Match the Weathervanes

See if you can identify the South Shields Weathervanes!


Story of the s.s. Glenroy Ship’s Bell

S.S. Glenroy by Robert Lloyd
S.S. Glenroy: Ship portrait by U.K. marine artist Robert Lloyd

S S Glenroy, built 1899 Wm Grey West Hartlepool,

Owners: Livingston & Conner,

Master: 1908-1914 John Frederick Hunter.

In 2003 in my early retirement from a career as a naval architect in shipbuilding and offshore construction, armed with only three old photographs of S S Glenroy from the family album, I decided to build a 1/96 (note the imperial scale!) model of the ship which had been my grandfather’s home and his life for 6 years.

Two years after he left deep sea with Livingston & Conner to join Stevie Clarke in 1914 in coasting colliers taking coal from Tyne to Thames, he learnt that Glenroy had been wrecked on 10th Feb 1916 on the coast of what was then French Algeria at a place called Les Falaises, in ballast from Malta to Bougie to pick up a cargo of ore.

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A Tale of Two Cities

…actually one city twice!

By TASC Member Brian Smith

City of Durban July 1969
City of Durban July 1969

In May 1968 I was appointed Second Engineer of the Ellerman Lines ‘City of Durban’, one of the so called ‘Big Four’ and spent the two following happy years sailing between the UK, South Africa and Mozambique. It was a ten week round voyage followed by three weeks or so leave and I completed eight consecutive voyages before leaving her for the very best reason of all – promotion. It was normal procedure that if you kept your nose clean and did a good job, your next move would mean a light tap on the shoulder – a chief’s job. She had to have at least two chief’s tickets on board for the passenger certificate, each of the four vessels carried 107 passengers and they were very popular and always sailed with a full complement and full cargoes too.

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A Not so Happy Christmas

A Christmas tale for the engineering fraternity.

Port of Longyearbyen
Port of Longyearbyen

In the Autumn of 1988, I was sailing as chief engineer on a bulk carrier which was British owned, registered in Gibraltar and managed from an office in London. I had been attached to her on and off since February 1987 and had sailed previously on two others of the same class, so you could say that I knew my way around. She was one of a group originally built for Jebsens about 1972 of 22000 tons and propelled by 18PC2V Pielstick diesels. This particular vessel had been sold and chartered back to Jebsens and was carrying Jebsen cargoes at the time.

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Oops! I Boobed!

City of Liverpool
City of Liverpool

In the Summer of 1976 I was appointed Chief Engineer of the ‘City of Liverpool’, she was built circa 1970 at the Robb – Caledon yard at Dundee and was propelled by a Doxford 76J7 engine of 17500 bhp. Both the ‘Liverpool’ and her sister the ‘Hull’ had their faults, some major and some minor. Firstly the Bridge Control system on both vessels was totally unreliable and was never used during my tenure. I believe it was a GEC system but don’t quote me on that, after all it is some thirty six years since I last sailed on them and this is all from memory – the only thing I can verify are the dates from my ‘Discharge Book’ – oh they were the days lads !. The next item which caused a little frustration was the machinery monitoring system which was a Decca Isis, it just didn’t like the Persian Gulf in the Summer season, as soon as you stuck your nose through the straits of Hormuz spurious alarms would appear but fortunately it seemed to settle down when it became accustomed to the heat. From what I remember the fault lay in the transducer cabinets which were subjected to the heat of the engine room, they were fitted with small fans which just circulated hot air. However this wee story is about a very minor fault I came across on the ‘Liverpool’, which caused some annoyance and some laughter as it turned out.

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Tyne Pilots: Buildings & Beacons

Trinity Tower

Trinity Tower erected 1810 at a cost of £2000 by the Master and Brethren of Trinity House Newcastle, as a watch tower for Shields Pilots.

The Coat of Arms Deus Debit Vela means God will give the sails.

It was purchased by South Shields Corporation in 1890 and used as a home for under gardeners in the park.

During World War II it was used by the Military and in 1946 became a Radar Training Station for South Shields Marine & Tech. College .

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Tyne Pilot Cobles


Before the advent of steam cutters, each pilot had his own coble, manned by himself and his apprentice. In these they cruised up and down the coast on the watch for ships bound for the harbour of Shields . This was commonly termed as ‘seeking’ and it was a common occurrence for cobles to sail as far south as Flamborough Head and in some cases Yarmouth Roads, when vessels were reported making for the Tyne.

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River Tyne Pilotage, a Short History

A Short History of River Tyne Pilotage by John Bone (Jr)

Just how far the Institution of Pilotage upon the River Tyne goes back, it is not possible to trace, but from early records we find it was originally confined exclusively to members of the Trinity House of Newcastle upon Tyne , which City for long held a stranglehold monopoly upon everything connected with the river. Pilotage was incorporated in a Charter granted by Henry VIII, on 5 th October 1536, but it is probable that Trinity House had control of pilotage prior to that date, as the oldest existing order book of the ‘House’ commencing in 1539, while making several references to pilotage dues termed ‘Loadmannage’ in those distant days, refers to still earlier entries in the ‘Owyld Lodmannage Bouk’ now lost.

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The Tyne Pilots

Tyne Pilots (latter half of the nineteenth century)
Tyne Pilots (latter half of the nineteenth century)

South Shields (Tyne) Sea Pilots of the latter half of the nineteenth century, were the real aristocracy of the river’s work force. These men could genuinely afford to dress well, and long retained their distinctive ‘stove pipe’ hats when afloat.

These they knew, with a knowledge born of generations of men who, with little other than skill, had brought countless ships to a safe anchorage, the work involved great responsibility and was fraught with many difficulties requiring coolness and ability. This they had in plenty as is witnessed by the innumerable sailors who daily entrusted them, without so much as second thoughts, with their lives.

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The River Tyne

In the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign, the River Tyne was a vastly different river to what it is today. In fact it was a tortuous stream, full of sand banks and curious currents, and possible to ford at Newcastle at low water.

Map of the River Tyne
Map of the River Tyne


At its mouth in spring tides, the harbour had sufficient water for vessels of 500 tons, but local records show that on August 26 th 1824 there was the lowest tide ever remembered on the Tyne, and three pilots, R. Burns Jnr., J. Harrison and W.Tully walked across, from the south to the north side on Tynemouth Bar, a circumstance believed never to have occurred before.

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