IF you can remember the BBC naval drama Warship, you’ll perhaps be more familiar with this ship than you thought.
She was the Leander-class frigate HMS Dido, one of the two that came to the Tyne during Naval Week in 1965, which I’ve been featuring recently.
She would go on to play the fictional frigate HMS Hero in the TV series.
This picture of her in the river, 50 years ago, comes from Dennis Maccoy, who was another of the Readhead’s apprentice draughtsmen who got up at the crack of dawn to see the ships come in.
Their look out was another vessel.
Says Dennis: “We took the opportunity to use the Hudson Light, which was then nearing completion at Readhead’s, as a vantage point, and arrived at work uncommonly early – about 5.30 on a pleasant, still morning, if my memory is correct – to photograph the initial arrival of the squadron.
“Various ships took local worthies for a ‘sea day’ during the week, giving the opportunity to observe the vessels’ return at a more civilised hour, when there were rather more people about.”
Dennis has been kind enough to let me have other photographs recalling the occasion, which we’ll have in the next few days.
“Almost as interesting as the ships is the North Shields background with the site clearance for the RoRo ferry terminal just beginning,” he says.
HMS Dido was laid down at Yarrow’s on the Clyde in 1959 and commissioned in 1963.
She was sold to the New Zealand Navy in the 1980s, becoming HMNZS Southland, and was eventually decommissioned and sent for scrap in the mid-1990s.