When the Thames visited the Tyne

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IT’S compulsive and I suppose a little bit hopeful, or at least it is for me.

I’m talking about the look eastwards when you’re crossing the river at Newcastle on the Metro.

The tug is just starting to lower her funnel to get under the Swing Bridge.

Kevin Blair

Sadly, the view today is of water untroubled by shipping.

Not like when this picture was taken, where the perspective is from the High Level Bridge.

This is a wonderful photograph from Kevin Blair, taken in about 1905.

The tug – called, ironically enough, the Thames – is towing a line of barges upriver.

Says Kevin: “Each barge seems to have someone on it operating the tiller.”

What would they have been carrying, do you think?

“The tug is just starting to lower her funnel to get under the Swing Bridge,” he says.

The tug herself is interesting. She had been built in 1866 by J & W Dudgeon, Cubitt Town, London, and was bought by the Tyne firm of tug owners Robert Redhead and Son, in 1903.

She was sold to French owners in 1922, and after that disappears from the records.

I love the sailing ship at the Quayside – the latter, by the way, having been extended just a few years before the date of this picture, to relieve congestion.

Proposals had included a new high-level landing stage, and sheds for handling merchandise.

I wonder if that’s what can be seen in the lower left corner?