RIVER TYNE

The River Tyne flows alongside the great, historic City of Newcastle upon Tyne and continues Eastwards before emptying into the North Sea between the piers at Tynemouth and South Shields.  For centuries it was the ‘lifeblood’ of its hinterland, both North and South of the river.  It became the source of immense wealth and world class engineering.  The shipbuilding industry along the Tyne created some of the biggest and best ships the world has ever seen.  Shipbuilding employed thousands of people, mainly men, strong and proud, many of whose ancestors preceded them in the industry.

As a young boy, I was privileged to watch the launching of Esso Northumbria (1969), which was built by Swan Hunter’s yard, on the North bank.  At the time it was the largest ship the world had ever seen and a source of immense local pride.  Other ships, of very many, built on the Tyne have included RMS Mauretania (Passenger liner, 1906), HMS Newcastle (Destroyer, 1975), HMS Ark Royal (Aircraft carrier, 1981), HMS Richmond (Frigate, 1993) and RMS Carpathia (1903) which rescued survivors of the ill-fated RMS Titanic.

The North East of England has produced some of the world’s finest engineers and scientists (Robert & George Stephenson, William Armstrong, Joseph Swan, et al) and the region could, at one time, be regarded as the ‘silicon valley’ of its day.  Tyneside and its near neighbour, Wearside and their environs were a major centre for both the shipping and coal-mining industries.  The City of Newcastle housed many of the associated administrative offices, which in turn has left us the legacy of numerous fine and architecturally significant buildings.  I have been fortunate to work in several of them and to have visited many more.

Sadly, the shipbuilding and mining industries have now all but disappeared from the North-East landscape – largely as a result of socially-destructive government policy – the effect of which has been to decimate many communities.

I am proud to trace my ancestry back to the great shipbuilders on the Tyne (as well as those in Scotland and N. Ireland) and that’s, perhaps, why I have an affinity with the river and all it represents.  My own career began with a shipping company based in Newcastle and which, in due course, became a casualty of the demise of the shipping industry.

I thought it might be of interest if I upload a few of my documentary photographs taken on and of the River Tyne.

It’s my intention to upload other images from my River Tyne project from time to time.

I hope you like them and I would welcome any comments or questions you might have.

River Tyne at NewcastleThis night-time view of the Tyne at Newcastle is much as it is today, with the Millenium Bridge seen on the left

River Tyne at Newcastle
This night-time view of the Tyne at Newcastle is much as it is today, with the Millennium Bridge (constructed 2000, opened 2001) seen on the left (see link below)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gateshead_Millennium_Bridge

HMS Newcastle berthed at NewcastleThis night-time image shows HMS Newcastle at the Spiller's Wharf, shortly before she was decommissioned in 2005.  She was subsequently scrapped in 2008.  The white building on the left (Spiller's Flour Mill) no longer exists.

HMS Newcastle
This night-time image shows HMS Newcastle berthed at the Spiller’s Wharf, shortly before she was decommissioned in 2005. She was subsequently scrapped in 2008. The large white building on the left (Spiller’s Flour Mill) no longer exists.

HMS Newcastle
The destroyer, HMS Newcastle, passing Tynemouth on her final voyage.      (September, 2004)

HMS NewcastleLeaving the River Tyne for the last time.  South Shields pier can be seen on the starboard side.

HMS Newcastle
Leaving the River Tyne for the last time. South Shields pier can be seen on the starboard side.

HMS Newcastle - Gun saluteA final salute to the River Tyne, where the ship was built.

HMS Newcastle – Gun salute
The smoke on the Port side is the final salute to the north bank of the River Tyne, where the ship was built.

Shipbuilding on the TyneOne of the shipbuilding yards on the Tyne.  Sadly, with limited exception, they have now been consigned to history.

Shipbuilding on the Tyne
One of the shipbuilding yards on the Tyne. Sadly, with limited exception, they have now been consigned to history.

Dereliction - Hawthorn, LeslieOne of the major shipbuilding yards on the south side of the Tyne was Hawthorn Leslie.  Now it's a page in history, as even the buildings have been demolished.

Dereliction – Hawthorn, Leslie
One of the major shipbuilding yards on the south side of the Tyne was Hawthorn Leslie. Now it’s just a page in history, as even these buildings, allowed to become derelict, have now been demolished.  The Hawthorn Leslie workforce built many fine ships including the aircraft carrier, HMS Triumph (launched 1944) and the Destroyer, HMS Kelly (launched 1938) , which was commanded by Lord Louis Mountbatten.  The Kelly was sunk during WW2 (May, 1941) and some of her crew killed in action are buried in nearby Hebburn cemetery.  There is also a memorial to those that lost their lives on HMS Kelly, which was erected by surviving crew members and employees of Hawthorn Leslie.

Tug on the Tyne (1)

Tug on the Tyne (1)

Tug on the Tyne (2)

Tug on the Tyne (2)

The Groyne, South ShieldsThe south side of the River Tyne's mouth has an unusual lighthouse structure known locally as The Groyne.  Strictly speaking, the groyne is actually the pier-like structure on which the lighthouse it stands.  It is an attractive, colourful and easily seen landmark.

The Groyne, South Shields
The south side of the River Tyne’s mouth has an unusual lighthouse structure known locally as The Groyne. Strictly speaking, the groyne is actually the pier-like structure on which the lighthouse stands. It is an attractive, colourful and easily seen landmark.  The many people seen in the image are there to watch HMS Newcastle leave the river for the last time.  Normally the location is sparsely populated.

Research / Survey vessel, Fugro Galaxy, passes the Groyne as it leaves the Port of Tyne

Research / Survey vessel, Fugro Galaxy, passes the Groyne as it leaves the Port of Tyne

2 thoughts on “RIVER TYNE

  1. I had often thought about Newcastle upon Tyne growing up because–and forgive me if you’re perhaps sick of hearing this–I was a big Sting fan, and he often talks of growing up near this river and watching those big ships being built. It’s a treat to see your photos of what the place looks like now, so thanks for that. Do you still live in this area?

    • Hi. I’m pleased you liked my River Tyne entry. Yes, I still live in the area (near Newcastle). Sting (Gordon Sumner) comes from Wallsend (ie. the town that marked the end of Hadrian’s Wall) and taught in the area before achieving fame. Others, like Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) and the Animals (Eric Burdon, Chas Chandler & Alan Price) also hail from the area. Many people from the Newcastle area have a strong affinity with two things – the river and football (soccer). If you ever get the chance to visit, I’d be happy to show you around. Best wishes, V.

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