Tag Archives: film

The Apprentice Lighterman (1963)

The Apprentice Lighterman (1963) – a short film about the work of lightermen on the Thames five decades ago.

My thanks to Andrew Craig-Bennett for spotting and sharing this video on The Liquid Highway’s YouTube account.

Biddy the Hastings tub man on the British Pathé website

Biddy the Hastings tub man

Our friend Malcolm Woods spotted this little gem of a film showing Biddy the legendary Hastings tub man in action nearly a century ago – his tub and various cuttings and photos are still in the fisherman’s museum at Hastings, but this really brings his particular crazy way of making a living to life. Thanks Malcolm!


The Family Navy Prepares, 1948

The Family Navy Prepares


A promotional video about holidays on the Norfolk Broads made in 1948. Holidaymakers were allowed 100 miles-worth of fuel for engines but otherwise had to rely on the wind. which ‘still blows from all quarters, uncontrolled and free of tax’.

My thanks to BroadlandMemories on Twitter for the tip!

‘Build me straight’ 1963 Scottish documentary about the building of a fishing boat

[This has been pulled from YouTube but is still available from the Scottish Film Archive. My thanks to Iain McAllister of the Peggy Bawn Press for letting me know.]

Thanks to Hans Christian Rieck for pointing this one out.

The poem, by the way (isn’t the Internet wonderful!), the title comes from a poem by the American poet Longfellow, which turns up on the Poetry Foundation website among other places.

Poetry can be a complicated thing, and at a big distance in time its meaning can be lost if no-one explainsd it. So here’s a short quotation from the Poetry Foundation’s piece about Longfellow:

‘The Building of the Ship combines a tribute to the master builder who designed the ship with a love story linking the master’s daughter to the ‘fiery youth’ employed in its construction while making clear that the Union stood allegorically for the United States on the eve of secession. Fanny Kemble performed this poem in dramatic readings, bringing herself and audiences to tears in the memorable emotional crescendo of the last stanza with its invocation to an imperiled country that is nonetheless the best hope for the world: ‘Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State! / Sail on, O UNION, strong and great!’ President Abraham Lincoln, hearing these lines recited in the midst of the Civil War, is reported to have wept before remarking, ‘It is a wonderful gift to be able to stir men like that.’

Nowadays, of course, we tend to titter at ‘ship of state’ analogies and patriotic idealism, and instead of high hopes for the future, instead worry that our political leaders may be influenced a little too much by the rich and powerful. Such different times…

I also note that Longfellow clearly had an inkling about the aims of the ship designer – not too much tophamper, centre of gravity not too high, the importance of hull form in steering, and a stern designed to allow the water to close nicely aft…

(By the way – there’s a fairly recent post on this weblog about another famous nautical Longfellow piece, The Wreck of the Hesperus.)

The Building of the Ship

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘Build me straight, O worthy Master!
Stanch and strong, a goodly vessel,
That shall laugh at all disaster,
And with wave and whirlwind wrestle!’

The merchant’s word
Delighted the Master heard;
For his heart was in his work, and the heart
Giveth grace unto every Art.
A quiet smile played round his lips,
As the eddies and dimples of the tide
Play round the bows of ships,
That steadily at anchor ride.
And with a voice that was full of glee, Continue reading

Short film: Where Broadland meets the Sea

Where Broadland meets the Sea

Here’s a present from the wonderful Broadland Memories website – this morning they tweeted this fabulous little 15-minute film about Oulton Water and Lowestoft in the late 1950s.

I must say I particularly like the terrifying water-borne dodgems powered by electricity brought down from chicken wire above… though I think we can see why they didn’t last into the modern age!

Robert Manry remembered

Robert Manry Tinkerbelle Atlantic crossing log

I’ve just learned about the Robert Manry Project, which exists to remember the life of sailor and journalist Robert Manry, who in 1965 sailed solo across the Atlantic in the 13ft 6in clinker-built dinghy-with-a-lid Tinkerbelle, in 78 days.

Manry went on to write a popular book, Tinkerbelle, about his demanding and sometimes terrifying trip. He was lucky to survive.

Through its website, the Project aims to collect reminiscences, and to produce a film – there’s a trailer on the website.

Perhaps the best bit, though, is Manry’s log of the voyage – a fascinating document, particularly if like me you have previously read his book.


Film of the original Nova Scotia schooner Bluenose sailing

The schooner Bluenose in flight…

A celebrated racer as well as working boat fishing the Grand Banks, she was launched at Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on March 26, 1921 and sank close the Haiti in 1946. Read all about her here.

Readers on my side of the pond may be interested to know that a replica, the Bluenose II, was built in the early 1960s, and is still afloat, between refits.