Talks are set to be awash with fascinating facts

The King Edward VII Bridge which opened in 1906.
The King Edward VII Bridge which opened in 1906.

Our lovely river runs its silver course through what promises to be two fascinating talks in South Shields next week.

The first is on Tuesday, the 16th, when the North East Maritime Trust’s workshops in Wapping Street in the town welcome historian and TV presenter John Grundy, whose topic will be The Tyne: Queen of aal The Rivers.

His talk will start at 7.30pm and the evening will include a raffle and light refreshments. Tickets are £5 but they are strictly limited. If you’re interested, telephone Arthur Hamilton on 07914047263 or the Maritime Trust on 0191 4478814.

Then on the Wednesday, the Heritage Club at South Shields Library will be joining in the celebrations to honour the life of Harry Clasper, champion sculler and first North East sporting superstar.

Local playwright, Ed Waugh, will be on stage in the Library Theatre talking about Harry and, his new play. Hadaway Harry, written to mark the 170th anniversary of the World Rowing Champion’s title coming to the North East for the first time.

Ed, who has co-written, with Trevor Wood, plays such as Dirty Dusting and Waiting for Gateaux, says, “This is a brilliant story of a true working hero.”

Tickets for the talk, which begins at 2pm, are free and can be obtained from the reference 
department at the Central Library, or telephone 0191 424 7864.

Of course, you can’t talk about the Tyne without you talk about its bridges, and most people can reel off the litany of them: the Tyne Bridge, the High Level, the Millennium Bridge, the Redheugh, the Swing Bridge, the...oh, is it me or does the name of this one always trip less easily off the tongue?

This nice picture, from Kevin Blair, is of the King Edward VII Bridge, which was built for the North Eastern Railway Company to ease rail congestion on the High Level.

It was opened by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra in the summer of 1906, although it was still unfinished at the time and didn’t go into use until October that year.

This picture of it is from a card that was posted in the summer of 1907.

The opening wasn’t exactly a huge gala event. Apparently King Edward got out of the Royal train at the midway point on the bridge, pressed a button to release a cord across it, said a few words, then got back on the train and steamed 
off to Alnwick, to stay with the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland.