The Story Of Beverley’s Shipbuilding Powerhouse Hits The Big Screen

The Story Of Beverley's Shipbuilding Powerhouse Hits The Big Screen
The Story Of ’s Shipbuilding Powerhouse Hits The Big Screen

As preparations get underway for the Arctic Corsair to be re-berthed in Hull, the story of its builder, Cook, Welton & Gemmell of Beverley, is about to receive a big-screen preview showing at the town’s in August.

‘Trawling Through Time: The Story Of Cook, Welton & Gemmell, Shipbuilders’ is the culmination of the East Riding Archives project of the same name, sponsored by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The ‘Trawling Through Time’ project began in April last year, and since then a team of staff and 40 volunteers have been working on the company’s archive to help keep the story of Cook, Welton & Gemmell alive and bring it to mainstream audiences. As part of that agenda, the project has produced a tv documentary with freelance media professional, Lia Nici.

The small market town of Beverley, over nine miles up-river from Hull, seems an unlikely place for building ocean-going ships but it was from here that Cook, Welton & Gemmell became a global powerhouse, churning out vessels from its Grovehill shipyard, to be sent downriver to C D Holmes in Hull, where they were fitted out.

Between 1901 and 1963, it produced over 1300 ships, including fishing trawlers, tugs & minesweepers. These ships were used all over the world, with many wrecks now scattered across the globe, including the famous Viola trawler, which remains in South Georgia, awaiting a much hoped-for recovery and repatriation to East Yorkshire.

For many years, this company was a linchpin to the fishing industries of Hull and Grimsby in particular, also providing trawlers for other UK ports such as Fleetwood and Aberdeen, and exporting to international customers as far afield as Iceland and South Africa.

During the First and Second World Wars, a number of Cook, Welton & Gemmell ships were requisitioned by the Royal Navy, mostly to act as minesweepers, and the company was also commissioned by the Admiralty to construct purpose-built vessels.

Cook, Welton & Gemmell has since vanished and, where once people could have stood on the banks of the River Hull at Grovehill and been swamped by the wave of a launching ship as it descended ‘broadside on’ (sideways) into the river, or heard the constant hammer of the riveters, nowadays a builder of small boats is the sole remnant of shipbuilding in Beverley.

Before its broadcast on That’s TV Humber later this year, the preview screening of the programme will be shown at Parkway Cinema, Beverley on Friday 16th August at 7pm. Admission is £2 and includes a free popcorn and choice of soft drink.

A special guest presentation is being given by maritime historian Dr Robb Robinson as an introduction to the screening.

Project coordinator, Sam Bartle, said: “It’s a real treat for our hard-working volunteers that we’re able to put on this special screening of the ‘Trawling Through Time’ programme with the support of Lia Nici and Parkway Cinema. It’s also brilliant to see a community event like this on the listings alongside mainstream blockbusters like Spiderman, Toy Story 4, and The Lion King! It’s a celebration of Beverley’s industrial heritage and its global impact, so I’m hoping the community will join us to learn more about the company’s story.”

Councillor Shaun Horton, the portfolio holder for tourism, culture and leisure, added;

“This documentary is the culmination of an amazing project, and I would like to thank all our staff and all the volunteers who have put so much work into making it such a success.”

Tickets are available from the Box Office at Parkway, Beverley (01482) 968 090
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This article has 1 Comment

  1. Sounds like a good idea, my grandad and his brothers where all cooks working on the trawlers in th 50s, 60s and early seventies. As part of the Hessle Road comunity my grandma tried to keep grandad under control and hide his whisky, which he always found. However going back further my great grandad Joseph Worth trawled on sailing ships

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