Although I never worked in Swans, who have been on the river for over 150 years, I
was born and brought up within the sight and sounds of the yard.
When I left school you had two options shipyard or coal mining. I chose to be a
I have seen some fantastic sights as ships are launched. Its now 2010 now and the
river has just had a visit from HMS Ark Royal, 25 years after her launch. I was down
at the yard when they laid her keel.
The Ark is as famous as the Mauretania, another famous Swans ship built in 1907, in
its day the most luxurious liner afloat, she held the Blue Ribband for the fastest
crossing from UK to USA for over 20 years.
When they said the cranes and all equipment were going to India I thought to myself
I must capture this for future generations to see what was once on this spot, and I
captured nearly everything. If I was away my friends done it for me. At the time it was
said it would take 6 months to do the job in fact it took over 3 years.
Everything was loaded onto a floating dock which was then loaded onto the heavy lift
vessel the Osprey.
I don't think there is anyone alive connected with the sea that has not heard of Swan
Hunters Shipbuilders, and would hear the words “Swans to close”. At the time of the
announcement of it closing after 150 years nothing seemed to be happening like the
previous S.O.S. campaign (Save Our Swans)
My friends And I who captured the cranes coming down are known as the
Swanssnappers. We were invited by the Discovery Museum to help them prepare an
exhibition all about Swans, to be called Swans of the Tyne.
It was an enormous task as the museum has all of Swans archives about ships,
submarines, floating docks built at their yards on the 3 rivers the Tyne, Tees and the
Wear. At the moment they are making a film and all the equipment is being stored in
the yard that once built ships.