Title ID 837Collection ID224
TitleThe Sea Has Many Voices
ThemePublic Services
KeywordsBoats Broadcasting Ships
LocalNorth Foreland Bremerhaven Portishead Cullercoats Margate Whitstable
RegionalKent Somerset Northumberland
NationalEngland United Kingdom Germany
ProductionGerald Holdsworth Limited
CameraPeter Povey; Bryan Langley
DirectorJohn Bennett
Commissioning bodyPost Office Telecommunications
EditorDavid Capey
WriterJohn Bennett
SoundAubrey Lewis
Format16mm Colour Sound
Duration24min. 34sec.
Copyright & AccessCopyright restrictions apply, contact Screen Archive South East for details


An educational film focussing on the work of the North Foreland coastal radio station, Kent. Through the use of fictional scenarios, the film demonstrates how radio communications with shipping operate and how the coastal radio stations, HM Coastguard, RNLI and RAF communicates when coordinating a rescue at sea.


The film opens with shots of a lighthouse and a soundtrack of radio broadcasts made between shipping and North Foreland Coastal Station. A relief map shows the locations of other coastal radio stations.

"The Sea Has Many Voices". Opening credits. Men on a beach loading fishing equipment into a dingy. A radio officer from North Foreland broadcasts a weather forecast. Shots of various ships and boats tuning in to the weather forecast. On board a boat, a young boy uses the radio telephone to talk to North Foreland. Shot of Bremerhaven Port and a Bremerhaven street scene with shipping office, sign: "United States Line". Inside the office, a couple talk in German. Shot of the London Ship Service telephone exchange. The boy seen earlier now talks to his mum on the phone. Shot of the North Foreland radio officer talking with a container ship called American Ace. He connects a call from the office in Bremerhaven to the American Ace. Shot of men fishing in a dingy out at sea. A couple in a sailing boat talk about the deteriorating weather. Radio officers at North Foreland reminisce about experiences at sea. Archive footage of a ship being blown up. The radio officer is now at home with his family as they telephone the Ship Telephone Service. The call is connected to Portishead Coastal Station. Shots of another member of the family at a post office sending a telegram. Shots of the telegram being sent, including a Telex machine and man sending a Morse code message using a Morse keyer. A man [Ian] in the wireless room on a container ship receives the call from his family and also the telegram. Radio officers at North Foreland talk about satellite communications. Shot of an oil rig as Cullercoats Coastal Station broadcasts a weather warning. Shots of shipping receiving weather warnings. The fishermen in the dingy talk about returning. The couple seen earlier in a sailing boat are now moored in a harbour talking to other sailors about radio telephones. Shot of two women on a beach in concerned conversation about the safe return of the fishermen. Shot of the fishermen trying to start the outboard motor. The women use a phone box to call the Coastguard. Margate Coastguard requests the launch of the Whitstable RNLI Lifeboat and the RAF Rescue helicopter. North Foreland, Thames and Hastings VHF stations broadcast a message about a fishing dinghy with three men on board. Shot of the dingy, a ship in the distance blasts its horn. The ship radios North Foreland to report the siting of the dingy. The ship blasts it horn again to signal to the dingy. North Foreland contacts RNLI and RAF with the location of the dingy. One man from the dingy is winched into the helicopter, and the other men are transferred into the lifeboat. North Foreland, Thames and Hastings stations broadcast that the dingy has been found. End credits and soundtrack of radio broadcasts.