Wallsend at Work
People and Industries Through the Years
Series: At Work
- Ken Hutchinson
15th July 2019
The Tyneside town of Wallsend has always looked to the sea for opportunities.Standing on the banks of the River Tyne, next door to the great city of Newcastle, it first became associated with shipbuilding in 1759 with the establishment of Hurry’s shipbuilders at Howdon and Willington Quay. Ropeworks and sailmakers were set up as well, and Hurry’s whaling ships going to the Greenland fisheries resulted in the creation of bone cleaning and blubber boiling industries at Howdon. The town’s industrial base began to diversify into chemicals from the mid-nineteenth century and the coal industry was also a major local employer, with the Rising Sun Colliery operating from 1900 until its closure in 1969.
Wallsend at Work explores the life of the town and its people, from pre-industrial beginnings through to the present day. In a fascinating series of photographs and illustrations it takes us through the rise of the shipbuilding industry and the town’s proud role as a builder of some of the greatest ships of the early twentieth century, the post-war decline of its main industries and the closure of Swan Hunter shipyard. It also takes us into the twenty-first century as Wallsend reinvents itself as a provider of service industries, as well as embracing new ‘clean’ technologies such as the building of offshore wind turbines.