A whale of a time was had at talk on long-gone industry

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IT’S one of the most iconic shipbuilding names associated with the Tyne.

But Palmer’s at Jarrow didn’t rise fully fledged from some industrial crucible.

No, the impetus for its foundation was the family’s wealth – which had its origins thousands of miles away in the frozen wastes of Greenland.

It was fascinating to hear more about this aspect of the famous yard in Tony Barrow’s talk on Greenlanders: Two Centuries of North East Whalers, given recently in the atmospheric setting of the North East Maritime Trust’s riverside workshops in Shields.

Yard founder Charles Palmer – who was born in King Street in the town – was the son of Captain George Palmer, who was one of the most successful whaling ship owners and skippers of his day.

It was also interesting to hear how, in the pre-gas era, whale oil illuminated much of Tyneside, when it was still a valuable commodity not subject to today’s ecological awareness.

Nice, too, to hear, recalled, the whale’s jawbone that formed the post of the old Jingling Gate at Claypath Lane in Shields.

If you ever get a chance to hear Tony’s talk, I thoroughly recommend it.