Warships at Belfast

Warships at Belfast

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black and white


British Film Institute


British Film Institute

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British Film Institute

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This important film documents the use of the Royal Navy by the British Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, to curtail the militarisation of the Unionist cause. We see a naval rating signalling by semaphore to the 11 destroyers that lie in the distant waters. On the nearby harbour walls, two members of the Ulster Volunteers are seen watching proceedings intently by telescope.

This film was digitised as part of the BFI's Unlocking Film Heritage project


On the 24th and 25th of April 1914, 14,000 ‘Ulster Volunteers’, working under the cover of darkness, were involved in the smuggling of some 25,000 rifles, by boat, from the German empire into Larne, Donaghadee and Bangor. Alarmed by the rapid arming of the Unionists, Asquith - as we can see here - sent the Royal Navy to patrol the coasts of Antrim and Down and prevent any additional arms hauls being made. 

This film was digitised as part of the BFI's Unlocking Film Heritage Project  

Shot List

0:00-0:05 Intertitle, Warships at Belfast. Coastguards at Bangor Co. Down, signal to eleven destroyers. 0:05-0:29 Small crowd of people stand on pier looking in camera direction and out to sea, four destroyers can be seen as sailor uses maritime signal flags, people turn to look at the ships, pan across pier, more destroyers are seen and a Union Jack flutters atop a flagpole in center of frame. 0:30-0:34 Intertitle, The Ulster Volunteers on the watch. 0:35-0:51 Two men look out over the sea towards the ships, one looks through a telescope, ducking in the frame man with mustache looks towards camera, a third man is revealed to be sitting in front of telescope as the mustached man takes a turn looking through the telescope. 0:51 Film Ends.  




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