A new short film revisits the return of the SS Great Britain to Bristol in 1970.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ships “homecoming”, the film documents the 8,000-mile journey from the Falkland Islands to Bristol and was released on the exact day of its return to the UK, July 1.
The SS Great Britain was floated off a huge pontoon on July 1 , 1970 at Avonmouth and then, on July 5, travelled up the Avon to Bristol arriving its exact “birthplace”, where the boat still floats, on July 19.
“The rescue and homecoming project in 1970 really was a story of achieving success against-the-odds,” says Paul Chibeba, deputy creative director at the SS Great Britain.
“With this film, we’re featuring some of the people who made that audacious rescue happen. The two divers, Lyle and Stu, are just incredible people; and their first-person accounts looking back 50 years later on what they helped to achieve are really powerful.”
The five-minute long film, Falkland Islands to Bristol: an extraordinary journey, features first person accounts of the project, 50 years on and documents the optimism and “can-do” approach of the journey to bring the ship back to its home city.
“It’s great that a short film like this gets shared and watched so widely. It’s a powerful story to reflect on, full of optimism,” says Paul.
“The ship wouldn’t have survived another winter in the Falkland Islands. The salvage was the most ambitious ever undertaken.
“With recollections in the short film as well, they capture how Bristol has embraced the ship’s return and the continuing conservation journey over the last 50 years.”
The film was shot just before lockdown, with post-production taking place just after lockdown was enforced at the end of March.
The team behind the film also used the photography collection of Tony and Marion Morrison, photojournalists who documented the entire rescue. The release of the film coincides with the SS Great Britain’s outdoor photography exhibition.
“We’re thrilled with the short film,” says Paul. “We hope that the SS Great Britain continues to inspire the next generation of engineers and innovators.”
Main photo: SS Great Britain