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Construction film archive unearthed and put online

16 Aug 11 A remarkable treasure of civil engineering documentaries has been unearthed in the vaults of consultant Halcrow. It has now been made public online.

A 1964 film on planning the Channel Tunnel is among the find
A 1964 film on planning the Channel Tunnel is among the find

When Halcrow moved to its new corporate headquarters in London in 2010, among the treasures unearthed in the dusty basement of its old home at Vineyard House in Hammersmith were several films from the 1960s and ‘70s. They covered topics ranging from the 1964 site investigation for the Channel Tunnel to major projects in the Middle East.

In business for more than 140 years, Halcrow has worked on major engineering schemes around the globe. The films show some of the firm’s more recent projects, covering just the past 50 years.

Unsurprisingly, some are scratched and the colour has faded in most, though some of the colour loss has been corrected by digitising. The archive can now been viewed online on Halcrow’s website.

Included is the first of a five-part series produced by British Transport Films on behalf of London Transport on the building of the Victoria Line. The episode, entitled Over and Under: Operations at Oxford Circus 1962-64, describes the route of the new line, the planning stage and the problems that had to be overcome by the project team.

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Halcrow’s role in the development of the Gulf states is demonstrated in four films showing the construction of three major port projects in the 1970s – Port Rashid and Jebel Ali Port, Queen Elizabeth II inaugurates Port of Jebel Ali and the Port of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

Halcrow was also the consulting engineer on the construction of a new type of lighthouse on the Royal Sovereign Shoal near Eastbourne on the south coast of England. Back in 1972, a documentary was made on its design and construction.

There is also a technical film by the National Film Board of South Africa on the Orange Fish Tunnel as an example of how to build a tunnel using concrete.

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