View of the passenger liner 'Berengaria' heading out to sea after her conversion from coal to oil burning engines at the Walker Naval Yard, c1921 (TWAM ref. 1027).
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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