DOWN TO THE SEA IN SHIPS 1x200ft (8mins approx.) Available from Derann

This is a Pathe Pictorial, Picturing This Colourful World short. It was certainly a surprise for me - either I’m getting old or I’m beginning to enjoy this sort of newsreel from our recent past. I found this thoroughly entertaining and can recommend it to all without hesitation.

The documentary opens with us English folk who apparently love to get in our boats and take them out to sea. Apparently Britannia “no longer rules the waves” but that doesn’t stop us taking to the sea at every opportunity and we see a group carrying a small craft out to the water at Torbay.

The scene then switches to Denmark and to the Danes whose fishermen spend much of their time fishing within the Arctic circle. Then to the old British colony of Bermuda where we are shown the historic ceremony whereupon the Governor is presented with a single peppercorn as payment for continued use of the State house - “An old tradition which Americans love most about the British.” The commentator actually states that Americans are masters at appreciating other peoples history. A brief tour of the island showing a half built cathedral which now lies in ruins and then onto the United States.

The Queen Mary has just arrived in a berth at Long Beach where she is intended to be transformed into a major tourist attraction. Strangely, whenever I’ve seen her there it never seems to be very busy. Nevertheless, there she remains a permanently docked palace and a representation of the luxury liner era now only carried on by the QE2 and a few other pretenders.

Onto Hong Kong where many of the boats are homes and some of the inhabitants have never stepped foot on dry land (I’m not sure I believe that part!). Hong Kong is home to one of the most exotic markets in Asia. In fact, some of the shops come to you on boats. An almost ancient world that is now meeting the West with two giant power stations being built by British firms providing work and housing for the locals. Apparently these fortunate people have been moved to “bright new modern flats”. They look just like concrete block high rises to me - no doubt they are slums now if indeed they are still standing.

The print is sharp and has good colour which looks a bit dupey in places. There is the odd mark on the master but doesn’t detract in the slightest. I was actually surprised at how good the print quality was considering the era of the material. The sound is pretty good too.

A most enjoyable, informative piece of nostalgia.

Print A/B Sound A John Clancy