Glasgow's Shipyards on Screen

Seawards 1960 11 detail

Shipbuilding is a spectacular topic for the big screen; the scale of the subject matter and its majestic associations, along with the technical accomplishments it represents makes for compelling watching. Over the decades the industry has often been captured on camera and films on the subject offer an enthralling insight into the once prominent industry and the communities that grew up around it.

Tales from the Shipyard

In spring 2011, GFT presented a rare season of films celebrating Britain’s rich shipbuilding heritage. Films included Michael Powell's 1934 drama Red Ensign, a story of romance on Clydeside, and on 8 March, the centenary of International Women's Day, there was a rare screening of Red Skirts on Clydeside, a documentary made by the Sheffield Film Co-op charting the 1915 rent strike by women in Govan.

Tales from the Shipyard: Glasgow also included the only film directed by legendary actor Sean Connery. The Bowler and The Bunnet was made for Scottish Television in 1967 and looks at the role of the unions within the industry in Scotland.

Scottish Screen Archive also restored dramatic footage from 1936 of the Queen Mary leaving the Clyde.

Seawards the Great Ships

Seawards the Great Ships (also part of Tales from the Shipyard: Glasgow), was Scotland’s first Oscar winning film. The 29 minute documentary, made in 1960, commemorates Scotland’s role as one of the most famous and prolific shipbuilders in the world. Through spectacular cinematography the film renders the majesty of its subject matter to the big screen.

Details of all the films screened can be found here.

Contract 736

Beyond the GFT's shipbuilding programme you can also discover the history of one of the most renowned and majestic of transatlantic ocean liners through STV’s documentary Contract 736, which looks at the building of the QE2. Constructed by John Brown and Company Ltd of Clydebank Glasgow, it was known simply as ship 736 until its launch on 20 September 1967 by Queen Elizabeth II.

Gerry Mooney, who remembers seeing the ship in construction on a school trip, recalls how on its launch the massive weight of the vessel (whose gross tonnage was in the region of 70,000) caused such a displacement that crowds who had gathered on the Southbank got soaked by the rising water.

Contract 736 charts the construction of the QE2 and its impact on the local shipbuilding community.

This Working Life: Tales from the Shipyards was a season of films in partnership with STV taking place during March 2011 at the GFT (watch more archive documentaries on the STV Player).