Shipyard archives preserved for posterity

HARPAGUS ... was launched in 1957 by William Doxford & Sons Ltd.
HARPAGUS ... was launched in 1957 by William Doxford & Sons Ltd.

THOSE of us who witnessed successive North East shipyards being laid waste in the 1980s and 1990s feared at the time – or at least I did, I remember – that history was being destroyed as we watched.

So there is a sense of a phoenix rising from the ashes in all the efforts that have been made in recent years to collate documents, pull together and research photographic collections and, in short, restore the proud records of some of those great shipbuilding and repair concerns.

In that respect it’s good to hear that Tyne and Wear archivist Alan Hayward has just finished cataloguing the archive of Sir James Laing, shipbuilders, which he’s been blogging about online.

He has also been cataloguing the ship photographs of several Sunderland shipyards, including those of Laing’s and also JL Thompson & Sons Ltd.

It represents, among other things, wonderful images of ship launches and sea trials, photographs expected to be of interest not only to maritime researchers but also those with, perhaps, family connections to the yards.

A typical example would be a photograph taken in 1957 at the launch of the Harpagus by William Doxford & Sons Ltd.

Visit www.twmuseums.org.uk and click on Archives Blogs.