Last of the Swan Hunter cranes demolished
THE last visible reminder of Newcastle’s once-proud shipbuilding heritage disappeared in a cloud of dust when the final two Swan Hunter cranes were blown up yesterday.
Former workers watched the end of an era as Freddy Shepherd pressed the button to bring down the last of the shipyard’s cranes.
The blue and yellow structures have been on the site for about 80 years and have stood over a hive of activity that produced some of the greatest ships of the modern era.
But the thunderous explosion that echoed over Tyneside marked the change from the shipbuilding of the past to hopefully a bright future in renewable energies.
Already, work is well under way on the yards that will create many offshore wind turbines and hopefully bring activity back to the Tyne.
For now, though, the remaining ex-workers took a moment to reflect on the generations of Wallsend men who went to work on great ships such as the Mauritania, Carpathia, Ark Royal and Illustrious.
John Kilpatrick, 65, from Cullercoats, worked first in the general store in Swan Hunter, then as an apprentice welder then finally as a shipwright, from 1959 to 1964.
Watching the explosion yesterday morning, he said: “Tears were running from my eyes. It would be too upsetting to go into the yard. It’s an icon that has been destroyed.
“When you come down the coast road the first thing you see is the hammerhead. The history has finished – it’s very sad.”