This film is part of Free

Your Heritage: The River Tyne

A beautifully composed travelogue circles the River Tyne as the Cold War plays out on the world stage.

Documentary 1962 41 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for North East Film Archive


As the Cold War bristles with menace in the 60s, the youth at Kielder Workman’s Club celebrate free time with an American dance called the ‘Twist’. But it’s the Faustian pact with industry this brilliant travelogue focuses on first as it maps the path of the River Tyne. The sounds of heavy machinery and graft pitch us into Newcastle’s shipyards and collieries, whilst drugs spin off a machine called Bliss in Winthrop Laboratories’ production-slick war against pain.

Between 1962 and 1963 Tyne Tees Television broadcast superb documentaries on the rivers and coastline of the North East in a series called Your Heritage. This programme was the first part of a trilogy on the regional rivers, Tyne, Wear and Tees, accompanied by a playful, informative and occasionally pithy narrative, here spoken by cigarette-puffing presenter Mike Neville. Sprinkled with allusions to the Tyne’s polluted waters and to Cold War politics – the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred in October 1962 and this travelogue was broadcast two months later, on 6 December 1962 – the picture is not always pretty, but it is beautifully composed.