Aerial view of the shipyard of John Readhead & Sons

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When: 10 May 1963

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Aerial photograph of the shipyard of John Readhead & Sons Ltd, South Shields, 10 May 1963 (TWAM ref. 1061/1164).

This set celebrates the achievements of the shipyard of John Readhead & Sons. The firm has played a significant role in the North East’s illustrious shipbuilding history and the development of South Shields.

The company began in 1865 when John Readhead, a shipyard manager, entered into business with J Softley at a small yard on the Lawe at South Shields. Following the dissolution of the partnership in 1872, it continued as John Readhead & Co on the same site until 1880 when the High West Yard was purchased. After Readhead’s four sons were taken into the business in 1888 the company traded as John Readhead & Sons becoming a limited company in 1908. In 1968 the company was absorbed by the Swan Hunter Group and in 1977 became part of the nationalised British Shipbuilders. In the same year the last vessel was launched and the site was sold off in 1984.

Readheads was prolific and built over 600 ships from 1865 to 1968, including 87 vessels for the Hain Steamship Company Ltd and over forty for the Strick Line Ltd. The shipyard also built four ships for the Prince Line, founded by Sir James Knott. The firm built vessels, which were involved in the major conflicts of the Twentieth Century. During the First World War they built patrol vessels and ‘x’ lighters (motor landing craft used in the Gallipoli campaign) for the Admiralty. During the Second World War the firm built tankers for the Normandy Landings.

(Copyright) We're happy for you to share this digital image within the spirit of The Commons. Please cite 'Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums' when reusing. Certain restrictions on high quality reproductions and commercial use of the original physical version apply though; if you're unsure please email [email protected].


Owner: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 16483
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    optimal chicken

    • 10/Dec/2015 13:13:03

    For a moment I thought it was the River Blyth! A fascinating image though and shows what an important river the Tyne was back then. (it still is) If we'd seen the other side of the river it would be buried beneath staithes loading coal for export. Here's what the above yard looks like now. It's beneath the plus in the centre. (courtesy of Flash Earth) Thanks for sharing.

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    • 07/Jan/2018 23:40:15

    You can see the coveyor and loading gantry for the iron ore trains to Consett on the other side of the dock gates. There aren't many other pictures of it that I'm aware of.