Philip and Son was a major employer
Town's historic shipyard memories recorded
By BBC Spotlight's Louise Walter
A documentary has been made charting the story of Dartmouth's last industrial shipyard - Philip and Sons.
The yard was bombed during the Second World War
Recent Devonians might not be aware of the former shipyard, which is now owned by Noss Marina, the site is now a leisure marina.
But for almost a century and a half Philip and Son was a major employer in the town. Hundreds of men worked there, some gaining respected apprenticeships and training.
The yard built thousands of tonnes of historic naval vessels, lightships (essentially a lighthouse on a boat, for those who have never come across one) and even the round the world yacht of Chay Bly of British Steel.
Twenty employees were killed during World War Two, when the yard was hit by Luftwaffe bombs but the business did survive the war.
But issues with trades unions and the demise of the British shipbuilding industry eventually caused the yard to close its doors in the late 1990s.
The yard built many vessels
The documentary film - Philip and Son, A Living Memory - started out as an idea to record the memories of former shipbuilders.
Noss Marina Limited, the company which owns the site, decided to sponsor a film to preserve forever the heritage of the site.
Film makers Chris Watson and Phil Scoble were overwhelmed with people wanting to take part in the documentary.
Phil, a local newspaper reporter, co-produced the film.
"The response to the film has been extraordinary," he said.
"People taking part, people wanting to take part, wanting to provide information, people wanting to provide anything to help because they want the story of Philip and Son to be told."
He added: "For me it's been an absolute dream to interview these people."
Philip and Son closed in the late 1990s
Chris Watson, the director, agreed that sharing the memories of former workers had been a real privilege.
A Living Memory includes the recollections of many men and women who worked in the yard - from Bob Weedon who worked his way up from the shop floor to the board of directors, to Frank Little, who found the unrecognisable body of his brother in a workshop after the bomb had hit.
"In the end I had to cycle home and ask my mother what he'd been wearing…identify him that way…it was probably the worst day of my life."
The documentary has its premiere at the Flavel Centre in Dartmouth, and it's hoped there will be a repeat screening in the near future.
last updated: 03/03/2009 at 13:43