Steel Ships and Iron Men Reel History of Britain


Steel Ships and Iron Men

Melvyn Bragg reveals archive footage telling the history of modern Britain. A look back to the 1930s when Britain's shipyards were fighting to survive.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Steel Ships and Iron Men. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

Just over a century ago, the motion camera was invented,

0:00:030:00:07

and changed forever the way we recall our history.

0:00:070:00:11

For the first time, we could see life through the eyes of ordinary people.

0:00:110:00:16

Across this series, we'll bring these rare archive films back to life,

0:00:200:00:23

with the help of our vintage mobile cinema.

0:00:230:00:26

We'll be inviting people with a story to tell to step on board

0:00:290:00:33

and relive moments they thought were gone forever.

0:00:330:00:37

They'll see their relatives on screen for the first time,

0:00:400:00:43

come face-to-face with their younger selves,

0:00:430:00:46

and celebrate our amazing 20th century past.

0:00:460:00:49

This is the people's story, our story.

0:00:510:00:54

Our vintage mobile cinema was originally commissioned in 1967

0:01:190:01:24

to show training films to workers.

0:01:240:01:26

Today, it's been lovingly restored and loaded up with remarkable film footage,

0:01:260:01:31

preserved for us by the British Film Institute,

0:01:310:01:34

and other national and regional film archives.

0:01:340:01:37

In this series, we'll be travelling to towns and cities across the country,

0:01:370:01:42

and showing films from the 20th century that give us the Reel History Of Britain.

0:01:420:01:47

Today, we're pulling up in the 1930s,

0:01:540:01:57

to hear some personal stories about working in Britain's great shipyards,

0:01:570:02:02

which were once the wonder of the industrial world.

0:02:020:02:05

This is the River Clyde on a raw morning in Glasgow.

0:02:150:02:19

For decades, it was Glasgow's workshop and lifeline,

0:02:190:02:22

and never more than in the 1930s, when many of the world's most famous

0:02:220:02:26

and luxurious liners were launched from its banks around here.

0:02:260:02:30

Coming up, a glimpse of what life was like

0:02:350:02:38

for a young Clydebank shipbuilder.

0:02:380:02:40

It was booming with industry, shipbuilding, everything.

0:02:400:02:46

And then all of a sudden, nothing.

0:02:460:02:49

I travel up 150 feet

0:02:490:02:52

for a bird's-eye view of a once-thriving shipyard.

0:02:520:02:56

Down here, right below here, in 1920,

0:02:560:02:59

there were 10,000 people at work on this one yard.

0:02:590:03:02

Not on the Clyde as a whole, just on this one yard.

0:03:020:03:05

And the courageous story of the unemployed shipyard workers of Jarrow.

0:03:050:03:10

They destroyed the infrastructure. They pulled the cranes down,

0:03:100:03:14

they took the machinery away,

0:03:140:03:16

so there was no way you could come back from that.

0:03:160:03:19

As I walk around today, it's hard to imagine that Clydebank

0:03:290:03:33

was once a shipbuilding powerhouse.

0:03:330:03:35

At one time, it was home to 38 shipyards,

0:03:350:03:38

which employed over 100,000 workers.

0:03:380:03:42

With so many men leaving work at the same time,

0:03:440:03:48

the shipyards had to stagger their clocking-off times

0:03:480:03:51

to avoid horrendous congestion on public transport.

0:03:510:03:54

When a ship was "Clyde built", it meant something.

0:03:560:03:59

It was a hallmark of excellence,

0:03:590:04:01

and some of the world's most famous ships,

0:04:010:04:03

such as the Queen Mary and the QE2, were launched from these banks.

0:04:030:04:08

At the dawn of the 20th century, Britain was the greatest ship-builder in the world.

0:04:200:04:25

The only way to transport goods, people and troops

0:04:250:04:28

around the globe was by sea.

0:04:280:04:30

In 1913, we produced 61% of the world's ships,

0:04:300:04:35

and employed more than half a million men to build them.

0:04:350:04:37

Battleships, merchant vessels and great ocean-liners

0:04:400:04:44

were launched down the slipways of 100 shipyards across the country,

0:04:440:04:48

in places like Glasgow, Newcastle, Belfast and Barrow-in-Furness.

0:04:480:04:54

During this boom time, a single yard could create up to 10,000 jobs,

0:04:560:05:00

but it was a noisy, dirty, dangerous trade

0:05:000:05:03

for those men who worked there.

0:05:030:05:05

FILM ANNOUNCER: 'In these yards, at the height of Clyde-side prosperity

0:05:050:05:09

'were built the Aquitania, the Lusitania,

0:05:090:05:12

'and one-fifth of all the ships that sail the seven seas.'

0:05:120:05:14

However, the 1930s were a period of decline for British shipbuilding.

0:05:140:05:20

Foreign competition, military cutbacks

0:05:200:05:22

and the Wall Street crash of 1929 created a dramatic fall in demand.

0:05:220:05:28

The close-knit shipyard communities that were once thriving

0:05:290:05:33

suffered heavy job losses and crippling unemployment.

0:05:330:05:36

By the end of the '30s, the fate of the shipyards was sealed.

0:05:360:05:41

My guests today are gathered on the former site of the famous

0:05:450:05:49

John Brown shipyard in Clydebank.

0:05:490:05:51

They've come from all over the country to share with us

0:05:520:05:55

their stories of Britain's once-mighty shipbuilding industry.

0:05:550:06:00

That was 1927...

0:06:000:06:01

They'll be showing us mementoes, photos

0:06:010:06:03

and telling tales of incredible hardship.

0:06:030:06:06

Some will be seeing the films we're about to screen for the very first time.

0:06:090:06:14

78-year-old Charlie Grozier was a young boy in the 1930s

0:06:210:06:25

and he grew up just a street away from the John Brown shipyard in Clydebank.

0:06:250:06:30

How will Charlie feel when we show him some rare archive film of the John Brown shipyard,

0:06:400:06:44

recorded at a time when his father worked there as an engineer?

0:06:440:06:49

When I saw that film, right away I'm going to say, "Oh, that's so-and-so."

0:06:490:06:53

I wanted to see if I could see my father in it.

0:06:530:06:55

You know, but it brings back memories.

0:06:550:06:58

As chief engineer,

0:07:010:07:02

Charlie's father helped to build the magnificent ocean liner RMS Queen Mary,

0:07:020:07:07

seen here launching from the banks of the Clyde in 1934.

0:07:070:07:11

A ship launch was a big event for the whole community,

0:07:110:07:14

and although he was a very small boy, Charlie remembers it vividly.

0:07:140:07:18

When the Queen Mary was launched,

0:07:210:07:23

where we're sitting just now, she was just one up,

0:07:230:07:28

and all the people were standing in the field there,

0:07:280:07:31

and the backwash came right over, and they were all soaked

0:07:310:07:36

from the knees downward,

0:07:360:07:38

and then when the drag chains stopped the ship,

0:07:380:07:41

she goes out and stops, and then the tugs take over

0:07:410:07:46

and bring her into the basin to finish and get completed in there.

0:07:460:07:51

Watching her namesake leave the slipway

0:07:520:07:54

was Queen Mary and her husband, King George V.

0:07:540:07:57

It amazes you, when you think about it.

0:07:590:08:02

If you throw a stone in the water, it sinks.

0:08:020:08:05

But if you put a big ship in, it floats.

0:08:050:08:09

The Queen Mary was over 80,000 tons and more than 1,000 feet in length.

0:08:120:08:17

She took nearly six years to complete,

0:08:170:08:19

and, at the time, was the largest and fastest passenger ship in the world.

0:08:190:08:25

In 1936, she set off on her maiden voyage.

0:08:250:08:28

It was an event Charlie will never forget.

0:08:280:08:31

She was a way up above the houses,

0:08:330:08:36

and you could look out and see it sitting there.

0:08:360:08:39

Great giant.

0:08:390:08:41

A funnel came level with the crane,

0:08:410:08:44

the Titan crane.

0:08:440:08:47

And you can imagine, you're talking about 150 feet up.

0:08:470:08:51

The Queen Mary was bound for New York,

0:08:510:08:53

and thanks to an advance in film technology,

0:08:530:08:56

she was captured by amateur film-maker James Blair,

0:08:560:08:59

and captured in vibrant colour.

0:08:590:09:01

I remember the Queen Mary sticking five times

0:09:010:09:06

going down the Clyde on her maiden voyage.

0:09:060:09:09

She was just a beautiful ship,

0:09:090:09:12

and you never imagined her being able to go down the Clyde, the size of her.

0:09:120:09:17

At the age of 14, Charlie followed his father's footsteps into the shipyard

0:09:250:09:31

and trained as a painter and decorator.

0:09:310:09:33

A ship the size of the Queen Mary would need about 13,000 gallons of paint,

0:09:330:09:39

and could take six months to apply a first coat.

0:09:390:09:42

Charlie remembers some of the dangerous working conditions

0:09:420:09:46

his colleagues endured.

0:09:460:09:48

When they were painting the ship outside, the hull,

0:09:480:09:52

and the men above were working, they weren't supposed to throw anything over.

0:09:520:09:57

But you got folk that threw a pail of rubbish

0:09:570:10:01

or something like that, and occasionally it would hit the painter

0:10:010:10:05

and he'd nothing to hang onto.

0:10:050:10:07

He's just sitting in a rope, a plank, painting it,

0:10:070:10:11

standing up,

0:10:110:10:13

and it would hit him, he'd fall into the basin.

0:10:130:10:16

If he couldn't swim, you'd to dive in and get him!

0:10:160:10:20

Shipbuilding was an industry that shaped the lives

0:10:200:10:24

of British communities and cities throughout the last century.

0:10:240:10:27

Charlie remembers the devastating effects of its decline.

0:10:270:10:31

It was booming with industry, shipbuilding, everything.

0:10:310:10:37

And then all of a sudden, nothing.

0:10:370:10:40

It's just a depression,

0:10:400:10:42

and there's nothing much for any young person leaving school.

0:10:420:10:46

Well, you never thought that shipbuilding would stop

0:10:460:10:52

on the Clyde, and you never thought John Browns would be away.

0:10:520:10:57

Charlie's memories of his early life are as clear as ever.

0:10:580:11:02

It's as if there's a camera in there going round and round,

0:11:020:11:07

and I can sit there and write the whole story

0:11:070:11:11

as if it happened last night.

0:11:110:11:13

I'm back in John Browns. I'm 14. I'm painting ships.

0:11:130:11:17

That's your memory, and that's gonna live with you until the day you die.

0:11:170:11:22

It was great hearing Charlie's childhood memories of the Queen Mary.

0:11:300:11:34

I'm now off to the very spot from which she was launched.

0:11:340:11:38

Those lines down there, very short, rather inconsequential,

0:11:410:11:45

those lines are where the great ships Queen Elizabeth

0:11:450:11:49

and Queen Mary were launched.

0:11:490:11:51

From the shipyards once existing behind us, down they came here,

0:11:510:11:54

into the Clyde, out to the mouth of the Clyde, and round the world.

0:11:540:11:59

To find out more about the history of Glasgow's shipbuilding industry,

0:11:590:12:03

I'm heading to the other side of the now-demolished John Brown shipyard

0:12:030:12:07

for a closer look at the famous Titan crane.

0:12:070:12:10

It was once used to hoist heavy machinery up onto the ships.

0:12:120:12:16

But today, it's used to lift tourists up to one of the most impressive views of Glasgow.

0:12:160:12:22

-Look at that.

-Yeah, terrific.

-Spectacular.

0:12:220:12:25

Travelling with me 150 feet to the top

0:12:250:12:28

is the author and shipbuilding historian Anthony Burton.

0:12:280:12:32

Why did the ship-building industry grow so big here?

0:12:320:12:35

Because they had all the main ingredients that they needed.

0:12:350:12:38

It was the age of the iron ship, not the wooden ship.

0:12:380:12:41

Here, they'd got the coal, they'd got the iron, they'd got all the raw ingredients.

0:12:410:12:45

That's why London failed, it was too far away from everything.

0:12:450:12:49

So if you've got everything at hand, it's just that much cheaper,

0:12:490:12:52

that much easier and much more profitable.

0:12:520:12:54

What sort of conditions did people endure while they were making ships?

0:12:540:13:00

They were all built out in the open, for a start,

0:13:000:13:02

and if you think we're talking about people like riveters, for example,

0:13:020:13:06

one of the things they had was they all went deaf.

0:13:060:13:09

Something like the Queen Mary had ten million rivets in it,

0:13:090:13:13

which had to be hammered into the hull.

0:13:130:13:16

If you imagine that in an iron box, the noise was absolutely horrendous.

0:13:160:13:21

And the platers, a ship isn't straight-sided,

0:13:220:13:25

it's curved like that,

0:13:250:13:27

and they were on little platforms, suspended, and they had no safety equipment at all.

0:13:270:13:31

The safety hat was a flat cap.

0:13:310:13:34

They had no industrial boots, which are compulsory nowadays.

0:13:340:13:37

When you think of the sheer numbers involved in this industry,

0:13:370:13:41

where we're standing, down here, right below here in 1920,

0:13:410:13:46

there were 10,000 people at work on this one yard.

0:13:460:13:48

Not on the Clyde as a whole, just on this one yard.

0:13:480:13:51

From the top of the Titan, it's clear that very little remains

0:13:520:13:55

of Glasgow's once-prosperous shipbuilding industry.

0:13:550:13:59

You can still see down here, you can just see cranes in the distance,

0:13:590:14:02

and in fact that's one of the few working areas.

0:14:020:14:06

There's a little picture which I've got here,

0:14:060:14:08

you can see it's just ship after ship after ship after ship,

0:14:080:14:13

all being built on this river.

0:14:130:14:15

-Amazing, isn't it?

-Just ships, end-to-end.

0:14:150:14:20

All day on Reel History, shipbuilders and their families

0:14:210:14:24

have been sharing with me their stories of what it was like

0:14:240:14:27

to work in the great shipyards of Britain.

0:14:270:14:29

79-year-old David Fleming worked at the famous

0:14:310:14:35

Harland and Wolfe shipyard in Belfast.

0:14:350:14:38

His father also worked there

0:14:380:14:40

and helped build the most famous ship in the world.

0:14:400:14:43

-That's the Titanic.

-That's it. Yes, my father worked on that.

0:14:430:14:48

-There's 4 million rivets, I think, on it.

-4 million rivets?

0:14:480:14:51

That's a real collection.

0:14:510:14:52

On board our mobile cinema,

0:14:560:14:58

David's about to be taken on a journey back to a time

0:14:580:15:01

when all the male members of his family worked in the local shipyard.

0:15:010:15:06

What memories will it bring back for him?

0:15:100:15:12

I lived in a street called Island Street

0:15:150:15:17

and the shipyard was just behind us.

0:15:170:15:21

Two meadows, two railway lines and then Harland and Wolfe's.

0:15:210:15:25

So we could hear the clang of the riveting, day and night.

0:15:250:15:29

This rare film from 1910 shows the Harland and Wolfe shipyard

0:15:320:15:35

when David's father worked there.

0:15:350:15:37

At that time the Titanic was one year into construction

0:15:370:15:41

but no identifiable shots of the famous ship were recorded.

0:15:410:15:45

Instead we see her nearly-completed sister ship, the SS Olympic,

0:15:450:15:49

which was ready to launch.

0:15:490:15:51

What job did your father have in the shipyard?

0:15:510:15:54

He was just a red-leader. He red-leaded.

0:15:540:15:58

-And, er...

-What does that mean, red-leading?

0:15:580:16:00

Well, the ship had to have a protective coating against rust.

0:16:000:16:04

Red lead, an anti-corrosive paint, was very toxic

0:16:040:16:07

if the shipyard workers were exposed to it for long periods.

0:16:070:16:11

But David's father faced other dangers.

0:16:110:16:13

He was doing a bit of red-leading and he slipped and fell,

0:16:130:16:17

and he fractured his shoulder blades.

0:16:170:16:21

And, unfortunate, put him out of action.

0:16:210:16:23

That suggests it was a dangerous place to work, the shipyards.

0:16:230:16:27

Well, I would say there was hardly a ship built...

0:16:270:16:30

There was at least someone either badly maimed or killed.

0:16:300:16:36

I remember one man, when they were putting a bilge plate

0:16:360:16:39

underneath the ship, sling wires broke and the plate came down on him

0:16:390:16:45

and he was carried over to the first aid but,

0:16:450:16:49

by the time they got him there he was dead.

0:16:490:16:51

Despite those dangers, David followed his father and brothers

0:16:510:16:56

into the shipyard in 1947 as a 16-year-old apprentice.

0:16:560:16:58

-What was your particular job there?

-I was a plater.

0:17:000:17:03

And what did a plater do?

0:17:030:17:04

Well, a plater had to do most of the steelwork associated with the ship.

0:17:040:17:08

-REPORTER:

-'Every plate and girder that comes into the yard has its own place,

0:17:100:17:14

'not only in some part of that ship, but in the minds of the men who built her.'

0:17:140:17:18

There was platers who had to shape the ship round by the bows

0:17:180:17:23

and the stern.

0:17:230:17:25

During the long, cold winters, it wasn't uncommon for shipbuilders

0:17:250:17:29

to suffer from frostbite and the loss of digits

0:17:290:17:32

when handling ice-cold steel.

0:17:320:17:35

What did people who worked in the shipyards, what did they make of it?

0:17:350:17:39

Did they think work was too hard and they were being...?

0:17:390:17:42

I think men loved Harland and Wolfe.

0:17:420:17:44

There was a great comradeship.

0:17:440:17:46

It was a wonderful place to work, too, you know.

0:17:460:17:50

It goes without saying that the tough life of a shipbuilder

0:17:570:17:59

was a world away from the wealthy passengers who set sail

0:17:590:18:02

in the luxury liners they built.

0:18:020:18:04

It wasn't just men who gave their whole lives to shipbuilding.

0:18:040:18:09

Women were part of the workforce, too.

0:18:090:18:13

Maureen Masterson spent 42 years in the offices of Cammell Laird

0:18:130:18:16

at Birkenhead, famous for building Navy vessels and nuclear submarines.

0:18:160:18:22

This is the Freemantle Star. It was launched in 1959.

0:18:220:18:26

And that's before the launch,

0:18:270:18:29

and this is me, presenting the bouquet.

0:18:290:18:32

Shipbuilding was a family tradition for Maureen.

0:18:330:18:36

Now, what about these photographs here that you have?

0:18:360:18:39

That's one of my grandfather who worked for 60-odd years

0:18:400:18:46

in Cammell Laird, nearly 70 years.

0:18:460:18:48

At one time there was about 10,000 people working in Laird's.

0:18:480:18:52

Did people feel then that shipbuilding would last forever?

0:18:520:18:57

I think so, yes, cos I'd grown up with shipbuilding,

0:18:570:19:00

my grandfather worked there for a long time

0:19:000:19:03

and it was always in our blood, shipbuilding, and the town,

0:19:030:19:08

everybody had somebody worked in Cammell Laird's.

0:19:080:19:11

At the end, there was just a few people left and all the offices

0:19:110:19:16

were deserted, all the big sheds were deserted, you know.

0:19:160:19:20

There was nothing left there but a handful of people,

0:19:200:19:23

which was very sad after what it had been years ago.

0:19:230:19:27

On board our mobile cinema,

0:19:290:19:30

our films will bring Maureen face to face with the sort of conditions her grandfather

0:19:300:19:35

would have faced as a shipbuilder in the 1930s.

0:19:350:19:38

We used to live with my grandparents cos my father had died

0:19:460:19:51

when we were young and we used to go and meet the bus

0:19:510:19:55

when he came off the bus,

0:19:550:19:57

because nobody had cars, so all the buses used to come up

0:19:570:20:00

and all these men were sitting on the bus.

0:20:000:20:03

And they'd have their greasy overalls

0:20:030:20:05

and their cloth caps, you know.

0:20:050:20:07

You always remembered the smell of their clothes.

0:20:070:20:09

Maureen's grandfather, John McGrath, worked as a boilermaker

0:20:110:20:14

and then a welder at the Cammell Laird shipyard

0:20:140:20:16

during the glory days of shipbuilding.

0:20:160:20:20

Cos it was hot, they used to dive, when he was younger, off one of the cranes

0:20:200:20:24

and into the basin, which they wouldn't allow them to do now.

0:20:240:20:29

Maureen watches one of our films showing the launch

0:20:290:20:33

of the superliner RMS Queen Elizabeth at Clydebank in 1938.

0:20:330:20:38

It brings back memories of the excitement she felt every time

0:20:380:20:42

she saw a ship leave the Cammell Laird docks in Birkenhead.

0:20:420:20:45

I always remember seeing, you know, the big ship on the slipway and, um,

0:20:450:20:51

I remember everybody being excited

0:20:510:20:53

and then they have like a maroon goes off and when that goes off

0:20:530:20:57

it's sort of all quiet cos you know it's going to move,

0:20:570:21:00

and you wait there and it doesn't move, you know,

0:21:000:21:03

and you think it's not going to go

0:21:030:21:05

and then slowly it starts to move and everybody cheers.

0:21:050:21:08

And then you'd see it sail down and go into the Mersey

0:21:150:21:18

and then it's gone.

0:21:180:21:20

It always made me want to cry.

0:21:200:21:22

I think it's emotional because it's taken them so long to build this ship.

0:21:230:21:28

You could say that the launch of the Queen Elizabeth in 1938

0:21:360:21:40

was the last great hurrah for British shipbuilding.

0:21:400:21:43

Britain's shipyards failed to modernise after the First World War.

0:21:450:21:49

Demand for British-built plummeted

0:21:490:21:51

when other countries started to produce ships cheaper and faster.

0:21:510:21:56

The Government made a decision to buy and close 28 firms by 1937.

0:21:560:22:01

Thousands of shipbuilders up and down the country lost their jobs

0:22:010:22:05

and one of the hardest hit areas was in the north-east.

0:22:050:22:09

On board our mobile cinema is Tom Graham,

0:22:140:22:17

a retired shipbuilder from Gateshead in Tyne & Wear.

0:22:170:22:20

Tom's father-in-law was a shipyard labourer

0:22:260:22:29

and the last surviving Jarrow Crusader

0:22:290:22:31

who marched in protest against unemployment and poverty.

0:22:310:22:35

People in London, who had more than likely never been to Jarrow,

0:22:360:22:40

didn't know nothing about the people,

0:22:400:22:43

but just made a decision that there was an over-capacity in shipbuilding

0:22:430:22:47

so let's do away with Jarrow, they're disposable.

0:22:470:22:50

Jarrow was surplus to requirements.

0:22:500:22:53

When the Palmers shipyard closed down in 1935,

0:22:540:22:57

unemployment in the town of Jarrow reached an unthinkable 70%.

0:22:570:23:01

They destroyed the infrastructure.

0:23:040:23:06

They pulled the cranes down, they took the machinery away,

0:23:060:23:09

so there was no way you could come back from that.

0:23:090:23:12

So, when you get something like that done to you,

0:23:120:23:15

you get a kick in the teeth like that,

0:23:150:23:18

there's the pride and the resentment that had to build up.

0:23:180:23:22

They had to show the rest of the world and the country

0:23:220:23:26

what they were made of.

0:23:260:23:27

To highlight their plight, the shipbuilders and other unemployed men from Jarrow

0:23:290:23:34

decided to march to London in protest.

0:23:340:23:37

-NEWSREADER:

-'The Jarrow Petition to the Government for work for the thousands of unemployed

0:23:370:23:41

'in what is probably the hardest-hit town in Britain

0:23:410:23:44

'is being carried to London by the 200 members of the Jarrow Crusade.'

0:23:440:23:48

Tom's father-in-law, Cornelius Whalen, known as Con,

0:23:480:23:53

was one of those men.

0:23:530:23:54

When they first set out, um, he thought it was a bit of an adventure

0:23:540:24:01

but the more he went into it,

0:24:010:24:03

it dawned on him what they were doing it for.

0:24:030:24:06

They were carrying the banner for these people,

0:24:060:24:09

and there was responsibility on their shoulders to behave properly

0:24:090:24:14

on the march, to do it with dignity, which they did all the time.

0:24:140:24:20

Watching these newsreels of the Jarrow Crusaders sparks the hope

0:24:200:24:23

that Tom might spot Cornelius in among the marchers.

0:24:230:24:27

Seeing the film of the march, I was trying to scrutinise,

0:24:270:24:32

see if I could find Con, the father-in-law,

0:24:320:24:34

because in them days nobody...

0:24:340:24:38

They were that poor that nobody didn't have cameras,

0:24:380:24:40

so we don't have any photographs of him when he was a young lad.

0:24:400:24:43

Whether I would've recognised him at 27 I don't know

0:24:430:24:46

cos I never knew him till he was in his fifties.

0:24:460:24:49

It took the marchers a weary month to complete the 280-mile trek

0:24:490:24:52

to London, but along the way they gathered a considerable amount of public support.

0:24:520:24:59

They were very appreciative of the goodwill that was given to them

0:24:590:25:03

in food and things.

0:25:030:25:04

People in different places repaired their boots,

0:25:040:25:07

they fed them, they slept on school floors.

0:25:070:25:10

They said they were very appreciative of that and very respectful.

0:25:100:25:15

And, well, for a march to go that long, there was no misbehaviour

0:25:150:25:21

nor nothing. They all conducted their selves as gentlemen.

0:25:210:25:25

Sadly, the march and the petition of 12,000 signatures

0:25:250:25:28

failed to make any impact on Parliament

0:25:280:25:30

and there was no proposal to help the workers of Jarrow.

0:25:300:25:34

Cornelius passed away in 2003.

0:25:360:25:38

He was the last survivor of the pilgrimage that captured a nation's imagination.

0:25:380:25:42

To his family, he's a quiet hero and Tom remembers him fondly

0:25:420:25:47

when he looks at this photo taken from a newspaper.

0:25:470:25:50

He was about 88 at the time

0:25:500:25:52

and I think, when you look at that photograph,

0:25:520:25:56

you can still see the steely determination in his eye.

0:25:560:25:59

You can still... For all he was 80 when that photograph was taken,

0:25:590:26:04

his shoulders were back, the pride was there.

0:26:040:26:06

I think he grew a couple of inches when the picture was taken because of the pride.

0:26:060:26:11

And he knew what it meant and he knew why that picture was taken -

0:26:110:26:14

because he was the last of the marchers.

0:26:140:26:16

In 2002, as a tribute to Tom's father-in-law,

0:26:160:26:19

Jarrow Brewery named a beer after him, called Old Cornelius.

0:26:190:26:24

And not many people can claim that.

0:26:240:26:26

-Old Cornelius.

-He was the last of them.

0:26:270:26:30

-The last... Oh, really?

-Yes.

-Isn't that great?

0:26:300:26:33

-The last survivor of the Jarrow march. Con.

-Aye.

0:26:330:26:39

He didn't drink a lot.

0:26:400:26:42

A joiner's labourer from Jarrow, he gets a beer named after him

0:26:420:26:46

and he gets his obituary in the Times.

0:26:460:26:49

HE LAUGHS

0:26:490:26:50

How wonderful!

0:26:500:26:51

-That's good, isn't it?

-Cheers. THEY LAUGH

0:26:510:26:54

Tom worked at the one of Britain's last surviving shipyards,

0:26:590:27:02

Swan Hunter in North Tyneside.

0:27:020:27:05

In 1996 it closed for business after 130 years,

0:27:050:27:10

but left two of its iconic cranes standing until 2010...

0:27:100:27:13

EXPLOSIONS

0:27:130:27:17

..when they were blasted with dynamite.

0:27:190:27:22

A hundred years ago, British shipbuilders ruled the waves,

0:27:260:27:29

producing more ships than the rest of the world put together.

0:27:290:27:34

But by the 1980s

0:27:360:27:37

we accounted for less than 1% of the world's output.

0:27:370:27:41

Without those shipbuilders' dedication,

0:27:410:27:44

Britain would never have been the world leader it once was.

0:27:440:27:48

It was a harsh existence, but one their families can surely be proud of.

0:27:480:27:52

Their legacy is the world's greatest ships.

0:27:520:27:56

Time for us to set sail from the Clyde.

0:27:560:27:59

Next time on Reel History, we're in Leicestershire to remember

0:28:010:28:06

the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977.

0:28:060:28:08

We had the tables all set up, we had lots of games,

0:28:080:28:11

lots of music and lots of races.

0:28:110:28:14

You think you forget the things but, once you see the film

0:28:140:28:17

it all comes back to you about the day.

0:28:170:28:18

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:260:28:29

E-mail [email protected]

0:28:290:28:33

Melvyn Bragg, accompanied by a vintage mobile cinema, travels across the country to show incredible footage preserved by the British Film Institute and other national and regional film archives, and tell the history of modern Britain.

This episode comes from the site of the John Brown's shipyard in Clydebank, Glasgow and looks back to the 1930s when Britain's shipyards, once the wonder of the industrial world, were fighting to survive.

Charlie Grozier, who grew up just a street away from John Brown's, remembers being 12 years old and watching in awe as the ships his father worked on were launched. At the top of the Titan Crane, historian and shipbuilding expert Anthony Burton talks about the decline of shipyards across the country and Tom Graham explains the impact this collapse had on his home community along with thousands of others.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS