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The Ship from the Clyde (clip)

Poor industrial relations affect the building of the QE2 liner

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A documentary piece detailing the problems suffered by the Cunard Liner 'Queen Elizabeth II'. While it's initial troubles are narrated we see the ship on the water in the Clyde and at Southampton. We see onboard, on the decks and below in the engine room. Aerial shots help to show the scale of the vessel. Throughout the clip a variety of individuals associated with the project give their opinions as to the ship and it's problems. These include the shipbuilder John Rannie and Graham Strachan of John Brown Engineering. Cunard is represented by it's Chairman, Sir Basil Smallpiece, Chief Engineer Tom Kameen and Lord Mancroft. The Union official Gavin Reid offers his view on the failures of management in the project and this view is supported by some of the workers involved. Throughout the clip we see footage of the docks and at work and of shipyard workers carrying out construction. An impression is given of the size of the workforce and the specialisation involved.

Questions & Activities


  • Why was the QE2 built with public money?
  • What main reasons are given for the decline of Clyde Shipbuilding?
  • How many different elements of class distinction can you recognise in this film?
  • How many different film sequences can you spot in this film (e.g. film, newsreel, interview)?
  • What is the dominant style and overall tone of this documentary?
  • How is the 'hat' interlude relevant to the documentary?


Media Studies / Art and Design: Compare the style of documentary filmmaking show here with that of 'Seawards the Great Ships' (also in this collection). Analyse the different camera, sound and editing techniques used to underscore these two very different visions of Clyde shipbuilding.

History / Shipbuilding: What reasons are given for the decline of shipbuilding in this film? Research the different reasons for the decline of Clyde shipbuilding and what aspects of Clyde shipbuilding remain strong today.

History / Shipbuilding: There is a lot of pride in the people shown in this film. Discuss whether this pride is reflected in the style of the film and whether pride is depicted as a positive or negative force.

English / Journalism: Turn this nine and half minute clip into a retrospective newspaper article about the building of the QE2.

Social Studies: Social class lines are clearly drawn in this film. Can you identify the different strata and hypothesise as to how they may feel about their true role in the delays affect the ship.

Modern Studies / Politics / Economics: The film says that "fear of the sack" created the greatest workforce in the world. Research and then debate whether this is true and whether it is still reflected in today's society, e.g. strength of certain trade unions and "rewards for failure" in the banking and finance sector.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-000-383-C
Resource Rights Holder Courtesy of Scottish Television
Project Ref T0413
Date 1969
Genre Documentary, Tv Doc
School Subject Media Studies, Art and Design, History, English, Social Studies, Modern Studies, Politics, Economics
Subject Matter Shipbuilding, Journalism
Who Scottish Television (production company), Ted Williamson (director)
Where Clydebank, Firth of Clyde, Glasgow
Attributes Black and White, Sound
Clip Length 9:34
Film Length 36:05