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Seawards the Great Ships (clip 2)

Scotland's First Oscar Winner

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The Oscar-winning documentary of shipbuilding on the Clyde, directed by Hilary Harris, treatment by John Grierson. Scenes in the drawing offices, steel mills and shipyards depict how the ships were designed and the steel was fabricated. Go to clip 3 of this film.

Questions & Activities


  • How does the filmmaker create a sense of momentum and crescendo using sound and editing?
  • How many different jobs and skills can you see in the film?
  • Would you want to work building a ship like this?
  • How does the filmmaker show the scale of the job?


What do you expect to find in an Oscar-winning film? Watch the film and discuss whether Seawards (which won the Oscar for best short film in 1961) meets your expectations.

Investigate how ships float. Experiment with bouyancy and density. What the heaviest object which you can make float?

Play a section of the film without showing the image. What do you imagine the film is about and why?

There are no women shown in the film. Find out how women were involved in shipbuilding from the 1940s to 1960 when the film was made.

Investigate the manufacturing processes used in building ships. Are great ships still being made? Where and what production techniques are used?

Why did shipbuilding in Glasgow go into decline and what was the effect on the communities involved?

Compare the use of composition in the film with the shipbuilding paintings of Stanley Spencer. Paint your own images of either shipbuilding or a different modern industry.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-000-271-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 2230
Date 1960
Genre Documentary, Sponsored
School Subject Media Studies, Technologies, Science, English, Gender Studies, Art and Design
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 River Clyde
Event Heavy Industry
Attributes Colour, Sound
Clip Length 7:20
Film Length 30:00