Yard’s tankards even made it Down Under

IN HOUSE...the ss John Readhead, built at the West Docks in Shields in 1880.
IN HOUSE...the ss John Readhead, built at the West Docks in Shields in 1880.

WELL, cheers seems a wholly appropriate response!

I’m going back here to the subject of the tankards that Readhead’s shipyard here in Shields gave out to mark their centenary. But who got them, was the question?

Well, quite a few folk, apparently – and we could be surprised at how far they’ve travelled.

A couple of people got in touch directly with reader John Bage who, you may recall, had recently acquired one of the tankards.

One correspondent had been given his, as a child, from a neighbour who had worked as a shipwright at Readheads.

Another had started serving his time at the yard, actually in 1965.

“The tankards were issued to all employees with five years’ service and guys like myself, who had two years’ service, were given the Readheads 1865-1965 book,” he says.

“My grandfather, who worked at Readheads, received a tankard, which luckily I inherited when he died.”

Several readers also got in touch with me, like Sheila Catley, whose father, Bill Bolton, worked in the joiners’ shop from about 1954 until 1974. “I remember him receiving a tankard for the centenary which we still have,” she says.

And Alan Jameson has one which was given to his father, Robert Jameson, engraved with his initials on one side.

“I can’t say when he was given it, but he was a plater in the yard,” says Alan. “He started at Readheads in 1919 and retired in 1970.”

Mike Wright also read the piece with interest.

“I have one of these in my possession, which I inherited from my father who was a naval architect with Readheads and then chief estimator until his death in 1968. I know of several of these items in the town and believe that large numbers were produced to pass on to customers and other contacts of the company. In fact, I believe there was a surplus because a colleague of my father’s had several boxed tankards in his cupboard at home!

“This allowed me to pass on a number of them to Antipodean friends who were studying at the marine college, therefore a number of these items will now be somewhere in Australia and New Zealand.”