Cat no. 409


Running time13:40 Colour Sound 1970 Harwich, Essex

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The history of the light vessel



The film opens with scenes of a ship aground at Mundesley, Norfolk, in 1969. There are scenes of a cross channel ferry in Harwich harbour and shots over Cromer showing the main landmarks of the town as well as the lighthouse. Returning to Harwich, there is film shot from the cabin of a pilot boat transferring the pilot to a ship at sea. There are brief shots of the Cork Light vessel and of a sailing barge.There is a close up shot of a document. The film tells the story of the first light vessels. There are stills of eighteenth century shipwrecks. The film tells the story of how the idea for a light vessel was patented by Robert Hambling of Kings Lynn. He established the first light vessel in the Thames Estuary in 1732. There are stills of early lights and of the vessels. At Winterton, Charlie Moll, a retired lightshipman, talks of his experiences aboard a lightship in the 1920s. He also talks of his days in the fishing industry. There are shots of drifters at Yarmouth and of the fisher girls at work gutting and packing the herring in barrels of salt.The next sequence shows the Galloper light vessel and describes the light ship and it's lanterns. There are interior shots showing the generators and the lamps. Crew members talk about their routine. There are shots of them and their living quarters. A relief vessel attends the Kentish Knock lightship. This is followed by scenes of a vessel setting out and transferring crew and supplies to the Shipwash. Pipes transfer oil and water. Coal is taken aboard and the crew change over. There is a Christmas trip to the Cork light vessel, taking aboard a turkey for the crews' Christmas lunch. There is film of the crew playing cards in their quarters. There is also film of the Sunk light vessel. (This is its name, not a description.)
The film shows a Lanby automatic lightbuoy in Harwich harbour. It cost ?160,000 and can operate for six months without attention. At the time it was intended that the lightbuoy would replace the Shambles light vessel, as was stated in the commentary, although it never did.Further shots of the shipwreck at Mundesley complete the film

Background Information:

The document shown is a fake. It was drawn by the film maker especially for the film.Charlie Moll also features in the film Here and There In East Anglia.

Featured People:

Charlie Moll, retired mariner and lightshipman.

Featured Organisations:

Trinity House

Featured Buildings:

Cromer pier; Cromer lighthouse

David Cleveland

David Cleveland

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