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Seeing the Esso Northumbria on the Tyne

On the deck of the Esso Northumbria, which was launched by Princess Anne.
On the deck of the Esso Northumbria, which was launched by Princess Anne.

When the giant 253,000-ton tanker Esso Northumbria sailed down the Tyne after her launch in 1969, it certainly left its mark on many South Tynesiders, judging by the reaction to this photo that we posted recently on Facebook.

Brian Carlberg said: “I was playing with a ball on the Dragon when a mind-numbingly loud deep horn boomed out filling the air. I looked over toward the river where it came from to see the entire north side obscured by this gigantic ship as it passed between the piers.”

Shirley Bardwell remembers “standing along the fence at the top of Palatine Street, (where we lived at the time), wtching this ginormous ship sail out the Tyne. People were using bikes to get from one end to the other. I’m not sure but I think we have a video of this ship.”

Paul Clark posted: “My dad took us down to see her leave and recorded it on cine film which I still have” while Brit Peacock told how “mam and dad took me down to the Groyne to watch her leave the Tyne.

“Never saw anything as big as her before, it was the first time I’d seen a crew member riding a bike along the deck.”

Colin Warkcup posted: “When it sailed out for the first time, the whole of South Tyneside was grid-locked by people wishing to see it pass.”

One of them was Heather Amar who said: “I saw it at the top of Mile End Road/River Drive with my mam” while Brian Arkley was “at the top of River Drive, where my grandparents lived” and Dave Smith recalled “seeing this as a kid”.

Susan Blackburn told how she “went with my dad to watch this ship launched at the shipyard” and Alex Llewellyn took to social media to say: “We lived in a flat on the seventh floor of Ellen Court, in Jarrow, and as she went past we had to look up at her. Great sight.”

Hugh Tulloch says: “I worked on the Esso Northumberland and the Esso Hibernia, and was at the launch of both. It was good days working at Swan Hunter in Wallsend.

James Scott reveals that he “worked at the Esso garage on Newcastle Road, and we got free sponges with Esso Northumbria written on them.”