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Documentary record of Philips' yard

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: February 20, 2009

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THE 150-year-old history of the former Noss on Dart shipyard near Kingswear and the men who used to work there has been captured in a film documentary due to be premiered next week.

Much of the old Philips Boatyard beside the River Dart is set to disappear under a £175million redevelopment project which will involve building more than 100 homes and five star hotel across the 36 acre site.

But in its heyday it was industrial and maritime power house turning out thousands of tonnes of shipping each year for more than 100 years.

The yard which employed hundreds of local men, built lightships for Trinity House – and its fame bought in orders from the Admiralty, the Sultan of Zanzibar and Chay Blythe, who chose Philip and Son to build his record-breaking boat British Steel in 1970.

During the war the shipyard built 250 vessels as part of the war effort. The film includes eyewitness reports of the day the Noss works was bombed by the Luftwaffe in 1942 —an attack in which 20 men were killed.

But after years of declined the yard eventually closed nine years ago with the loss of just 18 jobs.

The site is now owned by a consortium of businessmen who massively ambitious re-development plans for the site and Noss Marina are being drawn up into a planning application due to go before South Hams Council some time next month.

The film project has been completely funded by Noss Marina Ltd and the proceeds from the sales of DVDs of the film will be used to help support both Dartmouth Caring and the Dartmouth museum which is undergoing a major revamp next year.

The idea for the oral history project came after Noss administration manager Lorraine met with members of Dartmouth Caring, who had been associated with Noss in the past and who were visiting the riverside site.

Lorraine and Dee Nut, the chairman of Dartmouth Caring, felt that their memories and the memories of others should be recorded in the context of the history of Philip and Son.

Totnes based film maker Chris Watson was brought in along with local journalist Phil Scoble who carried out the research involved and is a co-producer.

The film, called Philip and Son, A Living Memory, will be shown publicly for the first time at The Flavel Centre in Dartmouth on Monday to an audience which will include former workers at the yard.

The DVDs will be going on sale from the same day at £5 a time.

Mr Scoble said he felt the film is a testimony to business and community working together for a common goal which is beneficial to all.

"This film is unique because of the way it has been produced," he said. "We have worked to create a film that was accurate, interesting and sympathetic to the people who helped contribute towards it.

"Philip and Son had an unrivalled reputation for the quality of its workmanship and was vital to the local community. We have now created a brilliant and lasting document for future generations. As well as the film, the interviews we have conducted will remain accessible at their original length in Dartmouth Museum for all who wish to learn more."

Director Chris Watson said: "Given that the shipbuilding eventually ended this could be a sad tale but, with the brilliant help of the lovely folk we interviewed, we together have created a film that celebrates the positive aspects of life at the yard as well. We are all very proud to have worked on it."

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