Steel Goes To Sea

About the film

From the laying of the keel through to the riveting of steel plates - teams of men work together to build and launch a steel ship.


  • Release year - 1941
  • Director - John E. Lewis
  • Production company - Merton Park Studios
  • Producer - Cecil Musk
  • Screenplay - Terence Egan Bishop
  • Cinematographer - J. Rodgers
  • Composer - William Alwyn
  • Editor - C. Beaumont
  • Sound recording - Al Rhind
  • Running time (minutes) - 15 mins 47 secs

Original description

The Building of a Ship

'Britain's shipbuilders build ships for service all over the world. No two ships are alike, each has its own 'character'. In the film a keel is laid, and from a tangle of steel plates and girders the hull takes shape. After weeks of skilled and patient work, the ship is launched and 'steel goes to sea'.'

(Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1942-43)

Did you know?

  • The shipyard in Steel Goes to Sea is the Burntisland Shipbuilding Company’s in Fife. The gentleman checking his watch before the ship’s launch was Wilfrid Ayre, managing director of the company.
  • The ship being built in the film is thought to be either the MV Dalhousie or the SS Ger-y-Bryn. Both ships were sunk by German vessels by April 1943.
  • Steel Goes to Sea states that the thousands of steel plates coming into the shipyard are tested by Lloyd’s before leaving the steelworks. Lloyd’s of London, a company specialising in maritime insurance at the time of production, is the topic of a another film in this collection - A.1. at Lloyd’s.
  • The British Council acknowledged that in the case of this film they had to “soft-pedal the war effort”, as they were debarred from making films about the war by the Ministry of Information at the time of production.

All films are subject to the Creative Commons licence guidelines.

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