Saturday, 15 May 2010

A Sad Day on the Tyne - and the Clyde

The following short video represents the end of yet another era - when the final cranes and the floating drydock from the River Tyne's last shipyard, Swan's at Wallsend, were shipped out to a new yard in India aboard the heavy lift ship Osprey. The floating drydock was shipped on the Osprey's deck with the cranes fixed to its deck.

The crane jib nearest Osprey's bow belongs to Swan Hunter's floating crane 'Titan III', once a very familiar sight along the Tyne when, like the Clyde, it was lined with shipyards, from Elswick to North Shields. Remarkably, there is also a part of Clyde shipbuilding on the departing vessel. The last crane - nearest Osprey's bridge - was originally built in early 1960s by the famous Glasgow structural engineering company Sir William Arrol & Co for the substantially modernised Clydeholm shipyard of Barclay Curle & Co at Whiteinch in Glasgow. Despite such large investments and modernisation the Clydeholm yard closed only 3-4 years later and the nearly new Arrol cranes were transferred to Swan Hunter's Neptune shipyard at Wallsend (Barclay Curle had been a subsidiary of Swan's since the 1920s). Remarkably, one of those cranes is now in its third shipyard - in India! Surely none of the Arrol workers that built it in the crane works at Nuneaton Street in the east end of Glasgow half a century ago could have predicted that it would have such a remarkable career. Undoubtedly Waverley sailed past this crane during its early years on the Clyde and again nearly 30 years later when the paddler made several visits to Tyneside in the early 1980s. I doubt that they will meet again!

Stuart Cameron