South Tyneside College lowers flags in honour of seafaring Prince Philip, who officially opened the South Shields institution more than 50 years ago

The college where Prince Philip helped inspire generations of seafarers is lowering its flags in tribute after his sad passing aged 99.

Prince Philip made two visits to the college, 40 years apart.
Prince Philip made two visits to the college, 40 years apart.

The Duke of Edinburgh officially opened what was then South Shields Marine and Technical College on a visit to the North East in 1964.

And the seafaring Prince returned 41 years later, touring the world-leading South Shields Marine School, part of what was by then South Tyneside College, in 2005.

Bosses at South Tyneside College say lowering the centre’s flags – which fly at its entrance and rear – is a fitting way to honour the prince.

South Tyneside College, then South Shields Marine and Technical School, was officially opened by Prince Philip in March 1964.

Dr Lindsey Whiterod CBE, chief executive of Tyne Coast College, which operates the marine school and South Tyneside College, said Prince Philip’s visits had been inspirational.

“Prince Philip was a much-loved royal whose strong sense of public duty twice brought him to the modern day South Tyneside College,” she said.

“We will be forever thankful that he joined us for our official opening in 1964.

“Any royal visit is highly prestigious, but his attendance was a hugely significant moment in our history, and I’m sure there are many people who remember it fondly.

Dr Lindsey Whiterod CBE, chief executive of Tyne Coast College.

“His return visit in 2005 saw him spend time at South Shields Marine School, one of the world’s great maritime training centres.”

As a former Royal Navy officer, the marine facilities at the college will have been close to the Prince’s heart.

He joined the British Royal Navy in 1939, aged 18. From July 1939, he began corresponding with the then thirteen-year-old Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen, whom he had first met in 1934.

During the Second World War he served with distinction in the Mediterranean and Pacific Fleets.

Crowds in College Drive waiting for the arrival of the Duke of Edinburgh to officially open the South Shields Marine and Technical College in March 1964.

Dr Whiterod added: “Prince Philip is from a strong maritime background, and I’m sure his visit was particularly enjoyable and interesting for him.

“We are grateful that he was able to join us on these occasions and to get a glimpse of the best of South Tyneside.

“I am saddened to hear of his passing, and offer the condolences of everyone at South Shields Marine and School and Tyne Coast College.”

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The Duke was keen to find out more on his visit to the college in 2005.