Film ID:
NEFA 13050

TANKERS GALORE

1954

Visitor Tabs

Description

A social record of shipyard labour, this documentary follows the construction, launch and fitting out of the “London Prestige” tanker at the Furness Shipbuilding yards on the River Tees, Haverton Hill. A professional voice-over, rousing music and poetry inject a sense of heroism and romance.

Opens with British Board of Film Censors certificate.

Film titles and credits appear over a shot of a steel ship funnel blowing out steam.

Title: Exclusive Films Presents A Connaught Film Production Of “Tankers Galore”

Credits:
Photography by S.D. Onions. P. Hamilton
Sound Recorded by Charles Green A.M. Inst. B.E.
Edited by M. Shah D’Ayan
Special Effects Joe Noble
Processed by Denham Laboratories Ltd
Music by Haydn Wood and R.Vaughan Williams
With the New Concert Orchestra by arrangement with Boosey and Hawkes
Commentary spoken by John Fitchen
Poem “Sea Fever” by John Masefield
Spoken by Anthony Jacobs
With acknowledgements to London & Overseas Freighters Ltd.; Furness Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.; Silley Cox & Co. Ltd.
Written, Produced & Directed by Patrick Young

The film's opening scene is a seascape with a tanker sailing on the open sea. The camera zooms closer towards the tanker. Fades to black.

The scene shifts to boardroom offices. The camera pans from a ship model to a group of owners and shipbuilders gathered around a boardroom table, spread with engineering plans. A superimposed shot follows of shipbuilding plans thrown down one on top of the other, labelled “hydrostatic curves, docking plans, lines plans,” and so on. Close-up shot as large envelopes containing a multitude of ship engineering plans for the London Pride oil tanker are dropped onto the table. The voice-over describes this meeting as the first conference in the shipbuilding project. Two of the men sit at a corner of the table with ashtrays placed on top of the plans and map. The Director of a shipyard is offered a cigarette from a box and the other lights it. There is a brief shot of a finger pointing to plans. The Director signs the contract that agrees terms and delivery dates for the ship's production.

A shipyard worker uses an air punch to pound a rivet into place on part of a ship.

A general view across water shows the silhouette of the cranes and a chimney belching smoke at a vast shipyard complex, the Furness Shipbuilding Co. Ltd shipyards at Haverton Hill on the River Tees. The film cuts to an overhead shot of the shipyard, where construction scaffolding and cranes surround a tanker under construction at one of the building berths.

The shot fades to an interior view of the mould loft. Here the shapes, in blueprint form, are laid out in the actual size of the ship on the loft floor. They are “faired” or shaped to true lines, and used to construct wooden templates to make the steel ribs of the tanker. A single figure walks across the floor. Three men begin to nail together the full size wooden templates on the floor. There is a close-up of a nail hammered into the template. A male worker lays out more of the templates. Two men are placing the nailed together templates on the floor of the frame shop where there is a honeycombed steel floor to take retaining pegs. Another worker watches. A man marks an outline onto the floor with chalk using the templates as a guide.

Templates are then made in mild steel. A group of five men lay the thin steel guides to the outline and clip them in position with lengths of steel clips. Two men hammer the bars into holes in the floor. There is a medium close-up of one of the men in action swinging a large mallet. Next, there are low angle views of the honeycombed steel floor with rows of bar clips and a steel section. The furnace doors rise and the steel section moves into the furnace.

Railway wagons, loaded with the long straight bars used for the frames, arrive at the shipyard from the rolling mills. There is a close-up shot as the frames are drawn from the furnace. A man drags the frame along the shop floor with a rod, where it is placed along the outline formed by the steel bar and clips. A group of five men then bend the still hot frame into shape with their special tools. The men use mallets for the final shaping to outline. After the frame is cooled, the group remove the steel clips and move the frame to one side with their tools. There is a medium close up of two of the workers who beat the frame with sledgehammers to remove the scale caused by the heating. An overhead electric hoist or crane lifts the frame to one side, guided by two of the men, to make room for the next frame in the process.

There are various shots of other pre-fabrication areas of the shipyard (possibly plating shed), showing shaping, cutting and drilling of plates. A man stands at a large machine, holding a curved object in place as a mechanised plate moves along two rollers. Another man stands on a mechanised engineering machine that moves along the length of a steel ship plate. There is a close-up of the chisel attachment on the moving machine as it shaves the edging of a ship plate. A brief close-up shows a partial view of a worker who holds a small piece of ship plate beneath a machine punching holes. Various close-ups show a machine drilling holes in ship plate and frames.

General view of a shipyard slipway headed by a giant crane. The camera tilts up to the top of the crane. Next, there is an abstract shot directly beneath the crane, looking upwards, as it manoeuvres an object high above the berth. The camera pans along a row of large wooden blocks in position for the laying of the keel plates that are the foundation of the vessel. There is an overhead view of a large berth filled with a great number of keel plates, properly lined up for the fabrication of the tanker. There is a view down the berth of the rigged together keel plates that form a steel pathway towards river end.

Fade to a view of the staging platforms and scaffolding at the building berth, with several workers on a platform. On both sides of the keel, a vast expanse of steel plate is laid out and welded together. Looking down into the keel, a worker welds plates together. Ship platers work on the vast foundation of keel plates. Sparks fly as a welder works at the edge of a keel plate.

The progress of the ship build continues. The shot fades to an high angle view of the structure of scaffolding and the ship hold, divided into twenty-four tanks. The camera pans along the tanks erected on the bottom plate of the tanker. There is a close-up of the vessel’s rib sections. A welder attaches the steel plates that form the outer skin of the vessel. Various shots show the stern-frame in position and construction at the stern of the tanker.

The next scenes record the tops of the cargo tanks, which the voice-over describes as looking like a “gigantic ice tray.” Various shots show work on fitting the deck over the top of the cargo tanks.

Next, there is an high angle view down onto the ship with the river Tees industrial landscape in the background. A group of men guide a steel plate into position as work commences on the deck out.

The final stages of construction before the launch are depicted through multiple shots of individual workmen at machine workshops and the building berth. Shots include welders, riveters and drillers in action.

The London Prestige tanker nears completion before the launch. A crane swings its load towards the tanker. An elevated view shows the silhouette of the tanker and multiple cranes at the shipyard, looking towards a foggy river landscape. A giant crane structure moves away from the tanker. A tracking shot from the River Tees looks toward the tanker in berth at waterfront shipyard landscape of cranes. The base of the stern and propeller rest on the slipway in the foreground, with crane towers seen at another berth in the background. The camera tilts upwards to show the “London Prestige” painted sign and a shipbuilder’s flag at the top of the tanker’s stern. The camera pans along the full length of the giant tanker.

A clock reads seven. Overhead shots record workers crossing the shipyard on the morning of the launch day.

Two men work beneath the tanker fitting drag chains. One worker removes timbers beneath the hull, using a hammer and wedge.

There are various shots of the crowds of workers and guests gathering along the edges of the berth and in the shipyard for the launch. There is a shot from a high vantage point of the launch platform where the owners, shipyard management and invited guests wait for launching ceremony.

A worker checks the hydraulic launching mechanism.

The film cuts back to the launch platform, where a mechanical lever breaks a bottle against the steel prow. The tanker rests for a brief moment in the berth. It begins to move away from the launching platform. Some shipyard workers lean over the prow deck of the London Prestige as it moves down the slipway, stern first.

A shot from deck looks down at the shipyard as the ship pulls away, with launch platform and assembled workers far below, fabrication sheds in the background.

There is an elevated shot of the tanker as it slides into the River Tees. There is a low angle shot from the river of the tanker sailing past. From the deck of the moving tanker, we look down at the slipway. Several shots show the tanker as it leaves the slipway and hits the water. We see the lengths of drag chains attached to the vessel, released and pulled down the slipway of the empty berth as they arrest the progress of the tanker. There is a panning shot from the empty berth to the adjacent quays where several shipyard workers are watching the launch.

Various shots of the London Prestige tanker and tugboats in the River Tees follow. The tugboats help to secure the vessel and tow it to the fitting-out basin. The tanker is manoeuvred into the bay by winches and moves between two other large ships.

A group of young boys watch from the dockside in several shots. The camera tilts down the prow of the ship to the water as it rests in the bay.

There is a (murky) overhead view into the stern at the bottom of the ship where a brazier burns and a single worker prepares the engine bed plates for the installation of the engine. Tilt down from the stern deck, where workers are busy, to the propeller resting in water. Pan along the length of the tanker to illustrate its superstructure. Giant cranes stand at the fitting-out bay quaysides. Another shot records the length of the tanker.

A riveter uses an air punch to rivet the ship’s plates. A medium close overhead view into the stern follows where a worker heats rivets in an open brazier, turns, tosses the white hot rivet with tongs to the holder-upper on deck. He picks up the rivet with tongs. We cut to various shots of a riveter kneeling on deck operating a pneumatic riveter.

There are shots of welders in action on the bulkheads and steel fittings. A man works on the installation of the ship rails. There are close-ups of an individual and a group of welders, in goggles, working on the ship windows. A general oblique exterior view looking upwards towards the construction of cabins.

Next, there are a number of interior shots of officers’ and passengers’ state and recreation rooms on the London Splendour and London Royal tankers, including round tables in the dining rooms, which are unusual according to the voice-over.

The film cuts back to a shot of a crane, which swings the large winch machinery for anchors onto the deck of the tanker. Various shots record workers as they manoeuvre the giant cogs in place. A welder works on a metal pipe, watched by colleagues.

Two men stand on a tanker prow. The following sequence records work, operation and leisure time on a tanker. It includes aerial views of the London Pride at sea, close-ups of a tanker prow churning the water, an officer at the bridge wheel, shots of the engine room and machinery in action. Scenes feature interior shots of the captain and officers using a compass and other equipment to calculate navigation on charts. Indian waiters serve off duty officers at a dining table. Officers in a recreation room relax, drink beer, and smoke. There is a close-up of the funnel blowing steam out. A dock pilot boat arrives at the tanker. The pilot climbs aboard the tanker. Further shots of navigation follow. The pilot boat leaves. The anchor is dropped.

There is a general view of the tanker in a harbour with many other docked ships. The camera pans from the tanker to a general view of a dry dock and the British Crown oil tanker. A tugboat pulls away from a tanker. Water splashes through huge floodgates. On the dry-dock floor two men scrape the hull of a tanker. There are various shots of the massive anchor and chain being lowered onto the dock floor.

An officer checks the navigational equipment on the bridge. An overhead shot documents the removal of equipment on trucks at the dockside to the engine workshop. The dock crane towers above a vessel. London Pride puts out to sea once repaired. The previous aerial and churning water shots of the tanker are repeated.

The film returns to the London offices where owners and shipbuilders plan a new project.

A montage follows, which uses superimposed shots of workers, ships and shipyards. An elevated view of a tanker launched from the slipway to water follows. There are various shots of the testing of ship equipment during a trial voyage including wireless and engine room machinery.

Shipping company and shipyard owners shake hands after the exchange of final instalment cheque and titles in the offices of London & Overseas Freighters Ltd. The shipbuilder’s flag is hoisted down the ship flagpole and replaced with the new owner’s house flag. A small group of men watch the ceremony on ship. Tracking shot shows the London Splendour tanker towed up the River Thames.

There are shots of officers in the bridge and in the engine room. An officer shouts instructions through a megaphone from the deck.

Further shots of tankers on the river follow as the vessel is guided into berth. The anchor chain is released. There are shots of the tanker’s oil pipelines and discharge valves. Oil discharge pipes are hooked from the tanker and oil pumps through. A worker adjusts a valve amidst the pipes on the dockside. Fades to black.

Tug boats move the tanker back into the Thames midstream. A montage of previous shots are repeated that show an officer at the bridge wheel, shots of the engine room and machinery in action, officers plotting navigational course, various shots of the London Splendour at sea. The captain and his lieutenant examine maps.

Several shots show Indian deck crew cleaning the tanks of traces of the previous cargo. A high pressure cleaning hose and nozzle is lowered from top to bottom of the tank. Indian deck crew unscrew the tank lids to release explosive gases. The tank lids rest open on deck. Elevated shots document canvas wind sails erected over the tanks. General overhead shots of the deck activity follow. Oil residue is pumped out of the tank one hundred miles out at sea. Deck crew and an officer oversee seawater as it is pumped out of the tank when the vessel arrives at its loading port.

The next sequence features various shots of the engine room and the operation of the diesel engine. It includes close-ups of dials, and crew monitoring dials at the controls. There is a closing overhead shot over the stern of the vessel.

Officers gather to read, play darts and smoke in a recreation room. An engineer’s wife joins in the darts game. The sequence is intercut with night time shots across the ship deck and out to sea. Parts of the ship are silhouetted against the sky at dawn. A man is silhouetted on deck as he walks out amidst the rigging.

Title: The End (over final shot.)