South Shields' North East Maritime Trust to bring River Tyne alive with historic ships in celebration of heritage

Volunteers will be flying the flag for our maritime history with a programme of special events this weekend.

Thursday, 5th August 2021, 1:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th August 2021, 1:44 pm
The North East Maritime Trust in action at a previous event in 2019, when a 100-year old restored lifeboat was relaunched after renovation.

The North East Maritime Trust, a not-for-profit organisation working to restore the region’s historic working boats from its base in South Shields, is bringing history to life on the river with two days of celebrations on August 7 and 8.

The action is taking place on the River Tyne at Newcastle as part of NE1’s Summer in the City programme, and will be capped off by an opening of the Swing Bridge for the first time in three years.

Alec Renwick from North East Maritime Trust said: “We are very proud to have this opportunity to demonstrate what has been done with our historic vessels, the very professional work done by our membership volunteers and to see them on show on the Tyne is particularly rewarding.

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Work taking place at the North East Maritime Trust workshop in Wapping Street, South Shields.

"This region is steeped in maritime history which we believe needs to be celebrated, not forgotten, which is what the NEMT is all about.’

Tariq Albassam, director of operations at NE1, said: “The old fishing boats that will be taking part in the weekend’s commemorative parade have a lot of history and heritage.

"It will be great for people to see these boats and to talk to the team at the North East Maritime Trust to learn more about the vessels and the region’s colourful, maritime history and heritage.”

He added: "All the action can be enjoyed from the Quayside which has been transformed by NE1 for its Summer in the City programme – people can enjoy what’s happening on the water as well as all the colourful and dramatic installations and new seating on dry land.

“Seeing the Swing Bridge open will be the icing on the cake for the weekend’s celebrations. The bridge is a feat of engineering genius and its workings are incredibly intricate – it is great to be able to marry the maritime celebrations with a rare opening of the bridge.”

Twelve historic boats will sail into the Newcastle City Marina in the heart of Newcastle’s Quayside to take part in the celebrations and a ‘noisy’ river parade.

The celebrations will be matched on the Quayside with the organisation providing information and talking to the public about their work and the historic boats on the water while the band, The Keelers, play Northumberland sea shanties at Wesley Square from 2pm.

At 3pm on Saturday 7 August, five historic boats will sail from the NE1’s Newcastle City Marina into the middle of the river to perform a commemorative parade on the water sounding their horns and providing a noisy spectacle for spectators on the Quayside to enjoy.

The parade will sail round the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and up to the Swing Bridge lasting approximately 50 minutes.

Swing Bridge opening and tours

To commemorate the North East’s maritime history and to add something extra special for the day, the iconic and historic Swing Bridge will open at 3pm.

The Swing Bridge is steeped in history and is the subject of its own historic tours, another part of the NE1 Summer in the City programme.

Every Saturday for the next 10 weeks, the public will be able to book a place on the Swing Bridge Tour delivered by local historian, Alex Iles, of Iles Tours. The Swing Bridge tour will provide rare access to the engine rooms underneath the Swing Bridge and opportunity to see its intricate workings which are an important example of Newcastle’s engineering history and innovation.

Spaces are limited and need to be pre-booked – details can be found at

Historic boats on show

On both the Saturday and Sunday, the historic boats will berth at Newcastle City Marina offering the public the chance to view the vessels and talk to their owners - boat viewings can take place between 11am-2pm on Saturday and 11am–4pm on Sunday.

The Gateshead Millennium Bridge will tilt at 4.30pm on Sunday to allow the boats to leave in a noisy farewell procession.

Events timetable

Friday 6 August:

2.30pm – Gateshead Millennium Bridge will tilt allowing the historic vessels to start arriving at NE1 Newcastle City Marina

Saturday 7 August

11am-2pm - Public can gain access to view the boats on Newcastle City Marina

2pm – Musical sea-shanties performed at Wesley Square, Quayside

3pm – Noisy maritime parade on the River Tyne

3pm – Rare opening of the historic and iconic Swing Bridge

4pm – Musical sea-shanties performed at Wesley Square, Quayside

Sunday 8 August

11am- 4pm – Public can gain access to view the boats on Newcastle City Marina

4.30pm – Gateshead Millennium bridge will tilt allowing the vessels to leave – sounding horns as they sail back to South Shields.