Premiere: Britain on Film: Coast and Sea, a celebration of life lived near, by and in the sea

There are only 100 tickets available so we advise visitors to buy tickets online in advance.


As part of it’s Museum Late season, The National Maritime Museum Cornwall is partnering with the ICO (Independent Cinema Office) to host the premiere screening of Britain on Film: Coast and Sea, a celebration of life lived near, by and in the sea. Revealing films that have never before been seen on the big screen – including a promotional tour of Newquay from 1935 –  this programme will delight anyone who feels the pull of the waves.

BFI Britain on Film Launch: Coast & Sea

Wednesday 17 May 2017

7.00 – 10.00pm (TBC)

Tickets: £6.00

Capacity: 100

7.00 – 7.30


Bar (Cafe)

7.30 – 9.00pm

Film screening in the Sunley Lecture Theatre

9.00 – 10.00pm

Cornwall Galleries open

Bar open



Britain on Film: Coast and Sea takes audiences around the country’s gorgeous, varied coast in films from 1901 to 1978. Within this nostalgic collection are several forays on the promenade at classic British holiday resorts including Weston-super-Mare, Morecambe and Skegness, a visit to Butlin’s in Brighton and 1930s surfing in Newquay. Learn about lifeboats via the RNLI’s brisk, engaging promo; the private life of seabirds in Julian Huxley’s pioneering, Oscar-winning short film, and explore the world of shipbuilding with the construction of the SS Olympic. A particular highlight is Claude Friese-Greene’s lush travelogue around the South West in wonderfully re-coloured footage from the 1920s.

The evening also offers the opportunity to explore the stories in museum’s Cornwall and the Sea gallery Here you can discover how Cornish people have made a living from the sea, how local craft were built and who sailed in them. Exhibits explore Falmouth’s role in global communication and trade, along with the development of Cornwall’s migratory links around the world. Witness the stories of dramatic rescues off the Cornish coast.

More about the films in the programme…

Playing on Beach (1903)

This Edwardian home movie is a simple snapshot of a family day out at the seaside: bucket-and-spading on Bognor beach.  One of the earliest surviving home movies in the world, this film is among the rarest treasures of British Cinema.

Cliff Climbing – The Egg Harvest of Flamborough Head (1908)

Gathering seabirds’ eggs on the coast was a traditional practice for farmers whose land adjoined the cliff edge, which gave them a legal right to supplement their income by selling eggs.

Miss Margaret Morris’ Merry Mermaids (1923)

A wonderful Topical Budget newsreel capturing fun and frolics on the beach at Harlech.

The Open Road (1926)

This extract from filmmaker Claude Friese-Greene’s 1920s travelogue captures several highlights of the South West, using modern digital technology to bring the full beauty of Friese-Greene’s photography to light.

The Private Life of the Gannets (1934)

The lonely seclusion of an island in the Irish Sea is intruded upon for this pioneering, Oscar-winning account of the lives of northern gannets.

Here is Newquay (1935)

Everybody’s going surfing in the heart of the Cornish Riviera. This 1930s promotional short may have been made before the town crowned itself Britain’s surf capital but that doesn’t stop these holidaymakers hitting the waves.

Mablethorpe 1940s (1948)

From the typical east coast beach hut to the simple joy of splashing in the sea, the unidentified filmmaker behind this extract has a knack for capturing the spontaneous and the candid.

Our Native Shore (1956)

The UK coastline was a busy workplace for this film’s sponsor, Esso. This extract explores the lives of some of these workers, including fishermen, ship-builders, lighthouse keepers and the brave lifeboat crews.

Shipshape (1947)

Shoreham-by-Sea is the setting for this brisk, engaging Royal National Lifeboat Institution promo that explains the need for continuous maintenance of lifeboats.

S.S. Olympic (1910)

SS Olympic was the sister ship of Titanic, and at the time of her launch on 20 October 1910 she was the largest vessel ever built. This film captures the sheer scale of endeavour involved in her building.

Dover, Spring 1947 (1947)

Dover made over: this quirky and pointed public information film reveals how the heavily-bombed and shelled Kent town was being replanned after the war.

Winter Holiday (1959)

Why not go on a winter holiday to Butlin’s in Brighton? This handsome Technicolor ad makes a good case for a trip, despite the blustery rooftop activities.

We Chose Skegness (1961)

This cheery Skegness promo tries to shoehorn in every possible attraction on offer: from Britain’s fourth longest pier to pubs and beauty contests.

Weston-super-Mare Holiday Report (1978)

Reporter Bob Warman visits Weston-super-Mare to talk to holidaymakers from across the Midlands. While most are happy with this traditional holiday destination, there are some reservations about the weather.

Panoramic View of Morecambe Sea Front (1901)

With their summer afternoon clarity, Mitchell and Kenyon’s images of Morecambe remain gorgeously fresh, from static shots of holidaymakers on the promenade to those filmed from a horse-drawn tram.