Day of talks and screenings to mark ship tragedy

A DAY of talks and film screenings is set to mark one of Newham’s worst tragedies.

Thirty eight people died at the public launch of the HMS Albion at the Thames Iron Works in Leamouth on June 21 1898.

The 13,000 ton battleship rumbled into the water and created a mini-tidal wave, causing a gangway to collapse and sweeping spectators in the river.

The Duchess of York - later Queen Mary - had earlier tried to break a champagne bottle on the steel hull three times, but it just bounced off.

Now the tragedy is due to be commemorated with a day-long event at the British Film Institute’s Southbank centre this Saturday.

Historian and Museum in Docklands founder Chris Ellison and National Maritime Museum curator John Graves will lay out the wider historical context and social significance of the events.

The event was recorded by early film makers and work survives from two figures, RW Paul and EP Prestwich.

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Prestwich filmed from a high altitude and Paul shot his footage from a boat while his fellow crew were allegedly rescuing people from the water.

When Paul’s film was exhibited soon after the disaster it became a source of bitter controversy.

BFI silent film curator Bryony Dixon will illuminate early film history and the key figures at the centre of this momentous event.

London filmmaker Patrick Keiller will consider why this event captured his interest and imagination and why he decided to include it in his acclaimed exhibition, The City of the Future.

Finally, a speaker from the British Board Film Censorship will consider the wider debate around film regulation that would begin over a decade later.

Tickets for the event, which will run from 11am to 4pm, are priced �5 and availble from the box office on (020) 7928 3232.

More information is available online at