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Seawards The Great Ships (clip 1)

Scotland's First Oscar Winning film

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The Oscar-winning documentary of shipbuilding on the Clyde, directed by Hilary Harris from a treatment by John Grierson.

The film features scenes in the drawing offices, steel mills and shipyards the film depicts how the ships were constructed, launched and fitted out before starting out on voyages around the world. This clip introduces the subject matter and looks at the great variety of ships built on the Clyde in the early 1960s.

Questions & Activities


  • What different kinds of ship can you see?
  • How many kinds of ship are mentioned?
  • What sound is used to motivate the credit sequence?
  • What different kinds of ships are mentioned and what are they for?
  • What part does repetition play in supporting the message of the opening sequence?


Research the different types of ship and what they do.

Research shipbuilding on the Clyde. Examine the reasons why the Clyde became such a centre for shipbuilding and the reasons why it declined in the 1960s.

Export stills from the film and create a collage about shipbuilding.

Watch all four clips from the film. Study the camera angles, movements and rhythms of the shots during particular sequences. Then try to analyse the structure of the film and the different messages conveyed in each section.

Shipbuilding has long been a fascinating subject for artists. Compare images or clips from the film as well as the works of painters like Stanley Spencer or Malcolm Lowry. Create your own artwork inspired by this subject matter.

Create a presentation about shipbuilding using text and images.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-000-269-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 2230
Date 1960
Genre Documentary, Sponsored
School Subject Geography, Business Studies, Computing Science, Economics, Art and Design, English
Subject Matter Rivers and Coasts
Who Central Office of Information (sponsor), Clyde Shipbuilders' Association (sponsor), Films of Scotland (sponsor), Hilary Harris (director), John Grierson (writer), Templar Film Studios (production company)
Where Glasgow
Event Heavy Industry
Attributes Colour, Sound
Clip Length 6:30
Film Length 30:00