Passenger liner 'Berengaria' on the River Tyne

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When: 01 January 1921

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A view of the passenger liner 'Berengaria' under tow on the River Tyne (TWAM ref. 1027). She was owned by Cunard and in 1921 was sent with ‘Aquitania’ to the Walker Naval Yard of Armstrong Whitworth, where both were converted from coal to oil burning engines and various minor repairs were carried out.

This set of images celebrates the achievements of the Naval Yard at High Walker. The Yard was established by Sir W.G. Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd as a replacement for the firm’s Elswick Shipyard. The size of the Elswick yard and its location above Newcastle Swing Bridge meant that by the early twentieth century it had become unsuitable for building large warships. Shipbuilding operations started at the Naval Yard in 1913 and by the end of the First World War all shipbuilding at Elswick had ceased.

Between 1913 and 1928 the yard completed 37 warships, 29 merchant ships and 30 tankers. In April 1928, though, it was placed on a care and maintenance basis. The yard re-opened in 1930 to build the liner ‘Monarch of Bermuda’ but after her completion in November 1931 had to close again from lack or orders. In May 1934, however, the yard re-opened and went on to play an important role in the Second World War. During the War the yard delivered 72 ships including a battleship, a monitor, 4 aircraft-carriers, 3 cruisers, 22 destroyers, 15 submarines and numerous landing craft.

After the War the Naval Yard was busy with merchant shipping. Giant tankers and famous passenger liners, such as the ‘Empress of England’, were built at Walker. From 1953 onwards the Yard also started building warships again, including the County-class destroyer HMS Glamorgan, launched in 1964. Difficult times lay ahead, though, and in 1968 the shipyards on the Tyne were merged to form Swan Hunter and Tyne Shipbuilders. On 15 February 1980 the containership ‘Dunedin’ was the last vessel to be launched at the Naval Yard bringing to an end a proud shipbuilding history.

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Owner: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
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    Billy Embleton

    • 16/May/2016 18:28:15

    Built in Germany before WW1 as SS Imperator she was seized by the Allies as war reparation for the torpedoed RMS Lusitania.

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    Calgary Doug

    • 16/May/2016 18:59:45

    Those old ocean liners were beautiful ships especially compared to the cruise ships of today. My dad was one of the British Home Children who was sent to Canada at the age of 13. If I can find the name of the ship he sailed on perhaps you could find a photo of it. He was born in Newcastle so I think there's a chance the ship might have been built there. I remember the name of the ship started with the letter M.

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    Jorge Molina Herrera

    • 25/May/2016 20:12:18

    Hola, tu excelente fotografía fue vista en el grupo AQUELLOS MAGNÍFICOS NAVÍOS

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    Calgary Doug

    • 02/Jun/2016 10:33:35

    I found the information I was looking for. The name of the ship he came to Canada on was the Montrose which sailed out of Liverpool and docked in Quebec arriving on 30 June 1922. He was 13 years of age at the time and one of a group of 100 children.

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    Calgary Doug

    • 02/Jun/2016 10:37:05

    I looked up the ship on Wikipedia and found this. Montrose was sold to the Admiralty for use as a blockship at Dover.1 Breaking loose from her moorings during a gale, the liner drifted out and was wrecked on the Goodwin Sands on 20 December 1914. There seems to be some conflicting information here. Any help would be welcome.

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    Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

    • 02/Jun/2016 12:39:35

    [] There have been a few ships with the name 'Montrose'. I think the one you're after was a passenger ship built by Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company in Govan. She was launched in December 1920 and completed March 1922 for the Canadian Pacific Railway Company and was registered in Liverpool. Because she has no links to Tyne & Wear I'm afraid that we can't help you further but there's more information about the shipyard here Glasgow City Archives seem to hold most of the company's records so it might well be worth contacting them Best of luck.

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    Calgary Doug

    • 02/Jun/2016 16:31:30

    Thank you so much. My dad would never say much about his life before he came to Canada. It's not my nature to pry but I am curious. Thanks again.