A travelogue from 1956 narrated by the South Shields born actress Flora Robson, looking at the history, culture and industry of the Tyne Valley. It contrasts the Roman heritage and rural economy of the western settlements, including Hexham and Corbridge, with scenes of life and work in the Newcastle & Gateshead conurbation. The industrial settlements between Newcastle and the coast are discussed, with a particular emphasis on the shipbuilding industry.
Title: Inca Films
Title: A River Speaks
Credit: Produced & Directed by H.G. Casparius
Title: Narrated by Flora Robson
The film opens with a view of a hilly moor, the sun coming through the clouds.
A steam train travels through the Tyne Valley landscape. Trees and woodland can be seen alongside the riverbank where the North Tyne meets the South Tyne. Behind a line of trees along the banks of the River Tyne is Hexham Abbey and the town.
The scene changes to show the exterior of Hexham Abbey; pedestrians and traffic move along Beaumont Street and Market Place in front of the abbey. Pedestrians walk past a series of small shops along a narrow street. A number of cars are parked in the road. An old man walks his small dog past the cross in Market Place. Two women walk through an underpass into the sunlight of the street.
The River Tyne passes under Hexham Bridge with the leaves of a Willow tree drooping in the water.
A car travels along a country lane. The camera pans across a field with a farm house and the River Tyne in the near distance.
General view of the remains of the Roman town of Corbridge or Corstopitum. An illustration depicts Corbridge as a Roman town. Close-up of a Roman stone figure of a lion eating a sheep. The camera pans across the ruins of the Roman town. A man in the near distance is digging on the site. Several buildings on the edge of Corbridge can be seen as the River Tyne passes under Corbridge Bridge
General view of a field of wheat. A young boy wades through small rocky pools on the rivers edge. Three people sit on the hill overlooking the River Tyne as it flows downstream.
There are views of the electric pylons and cooling towers at Stella South power station near Blaydon, Gateshead.
The camera tilts down from the winding gear of a coal mine to two miners leading two pit ponies across a yard to the mines. next, a group of miners walk beside a conveyor belt. They stop and talk to another miner who is sitting by the conveyor. Shot of a seam of coal. Three miners push coal wagons along rail tracks. A miner uses a pickaxe to cut into a seam of coal. Another miner uses a large electric drill to get at the coal and a third digs out the coal from the seam with a shovel. The coal then moves along a conveyor belt out of the mine.
Back on the surface two miners lead the two pit ponies away from the mine.
The scene changes to a market where two men examine the plumage of a pigeon. There are a number of cages filled with pigeons in the background. A group of people are looking at the caged pigeons. A man in glasses takes a pigeon out of a cage to examine it. Two teenage boys, one of whom is examining a pigeon, talk with another man, probably a pigeon seller. A number of young boys look at the pigeons. A young boy holds a pigeon in his hands. Another strokes the wings of a pigeon. A small boy peers closely through the bars of a pigeon cage.
A field of flowers stretches in front of Castle Garth. The camera tilts upwards to show The Castle. A man in a trench coat with a case walks out of the shadows and up a series of stone steps onto Castle Garth. The Castle is directly in front of him.
A still of an historic engraving of Newcastle and the Tyne is intercut with views of the spires of St Nicolas and All Saint churches, cars and buses crossing the Tyne Bridge into Newcastle. A bus passes on Neville Street, which is busy with both traffic and pedestrians. The George Stephenson memorial, St Mary’s Church and Newcastle Central Railway Station appear in the background.
Traffic and pedestrians travel past Grey’s Monument and along Blackett Street as seen from Grey Street.
More traffic passes through the intersection of Grey Street and Market Street, with the Newcastle Theatre Royal to the right. A traffic warden directs traffic from the crossroads as a number of electric buses pass the Binns department store.
Another bus passes through the busy intersection of Northumberland Street and St Mary’s Place past the Church of St Thomas the Martyr.
General view down steep steps towards the Newcastle Quayside and the River Tyne. Two small boys in school blazers walk down the steps from Castle Garth. In the background, a coal train passes over a bridge.
There is a high angle view across the Newcastle rooftops, with All Saints Church and the McEwans Ale factory visible in the background.
Large crowds enjoy time at the Sunday market on Newcastle Quayside, near to the Swing Bridge. A man walks along the Quayside holding a tray of novelty masks. Another man in a feather hat is trying to sell canned goods from a stall next to a large crane. Stall holders are selling crockery and beaded necklaces to interested groups of women. A woman stall holder wraps a bunch of flowers. Another stall holder puts a record into a sleeve for a well dressed woman who is looking in her purse for the money. A group of people drink Sarsaparilla from a stall. The camera follows the crowds walking up and down the Quayside.
The film changes to show the exterior of Bettie Surtees house with the High Level Bridge in the background.
Back at Quayside market, a man sells nylon stockings to a crowd of women beside the Tyne Bridge. More women are seen looking at the stockings hanging from pegs. A woman smokes a cigarette while looking at the goods on another stall. A group of young girls look at a toy carousel on another stall. A young boy holds a toy clown. A group of children are playing a game where they toss a small ball onto a table. A small boy eats an ice-lolly. A large group of children gathers around a man who is holding a tray full of jumping beans. Two girls eat ice creams. Looking down from the Tyne Bridge crowds walk along Quayside amongst the stalls. A boat is moored on the Tyne.
High angle views of the High Level Bridge, the Swing Bridge and the Tyne Bridge follow.
The next sequence contains traveling shots from steam boat on the Tyne. Shot of the Tyne Bridge from below. A tramp steamer sails past. Two seagulls perch on a floating buoy. view of the factory of Clarke Chapman & Co. Ltd.
Shot of a field full of large steel marine turbines sited at the works. Two men are working on one of the turbines.
There are further traveling shots from the river of newly built houses on the top of a cliff, followed by the Spiller's Tyne Mill building on the bank. A tug boat sails alongside, with background view of shipyard cranes and docked ship.
Continuing to travel downstream, there are views of the Tyne shipyards including Vickers Armstrong and Swan Hunters, with many ships under construction at building berths or moored on the Tyne. A radar dish is sited on top of one large building.
The scene changes to show exterior views of Bede’s Monastery ruins at St Paul's Church, Jarrow.
There is a view looking down onto the river around Jarrow with the town in the background. A tramp steamer sails downstream past a number of shipyards and cranes.
A group of identical smaller steam ships are moored together.
Men work on a ship as it sits in dry dock at Smiths Docks, North Shields. A man rows across the Tyne in a small boat.
Shot of a royal emblem above the Customs House at North Shields. A large ship is moored at a quayside. In the distance the Tyne Ferry is heading back upstream.
The film fades to a view of Marsden Bay where people are walking on the beach, seagulls nest on Marsden Rock, and young boys walk beside the Marden Rock stack. Four young boys run past.
Next, there are shots of the crowded outdoor sea bathing pool and the beach at Tynemouth. A large wave crashes against the side of the bathing pool, splashing a group of children in bathing costumes. Children and adults swim in the pool while others sit on seats around the sides. The camera pans up to show children playing around a large fountain. In the background the tide crashes onto Tynemouth Beach. A young girl in a bathing costume walks around the fountain. Another girl is swimming in the pool with a rubber ring around her waist. Two young girls run beside the pool. A young boy dives into the pool from a slide. Another young girl holds and looks through a safety ring.
Looking down from the cliffs, people are walking on the beach below. A number of small fishing boats are moored on the beach, the ruins of Tynemouth Priory on the headland. Views of Tynemouth Priory and coast guard station. A number of small boys stand around the statue of Admiral Lord Collingwood and nearby cannon.
At the mouth of the Tyne, a number of vessels are at anchor or moored on nearby quaysides. A tramp steamer heads out to sea as another steamer comes into the river. A small ship sails out to sea past the northern pier of Tynemouth harbour. A large crane sits on the pier in the background.
The film ends with a panning shot from Tynemouth out into the harbour, with the piers and the mouth of the Tyne leading out to the open sea.
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