Category Archives: General

Fred’s Shed

Has anyone has a picture of the shed without a boat in it?

Pleased to be able to confirm that NEMT has signed the lease for the boatyard next door (that used to be the premises of Fred Crowell, who has retired).
Once we get essential repairs done, it promises to be great asset, allowing us to bring boats up the slipway into the yard and increasing our capacity for workspace and restoration projects.

Dates for 2016

Photo – SSVLB

April 2: Re-enactment of a rescue by breeches buoy at the south pier near the South Shields Voluntary Life Brigade. This will involve one of our fishing vessels acting as a wrecked ship from which the rescue will be carried-out. Visit SSVLB website.


May – July Talks by Tony Barrow and Kelso Yuill.
August Bank Holiday Newcastle Old Boats gathering at the NE1 pontoon.
September Boatyard Bistro
September Heritage Open Days 8 – 11th

Tall Ships 2010

Rachel Douglas BK 231 in the lead followed by the recently restored coble “Royal DiademII” and “Favourite BK II”.  All three berthed in Hartlepool Marina, centre of the hub of celebrations for 2010 Tall Ships. The reception was tremendous with over whelming interest and enthusiasm  throughout our stay of four nights.

Sincere thanks goes to all our visitors for their interest and generosity and to Adam and Allen Henderson at Hartlepool Marina for being so accommodating and helpful.

Thanks also to the South Tyneside Community Area Forum for providing funds to cover the costs of taking the boats along so we could demonstrate and talk to so many of the public.

Click on following images to enlarge..

Favourite Refurbished


Fred Crowell fitting the Nameplate

DSC_0046_edited-1-680x1024Favourite has been in Fred Crowell’s boat shed for attention to a few defects and is back in prime condition, being launched again on 10th May. She has had attention to hull caulking, a damaged deck beam, a little new decking and repairs to her stem. Before leaving the slip a full external repaint was undertaken. A last little detail improvement has been the making and fitting of new nameboards by Fred. These followed the style of the boat’s builder, Walter Reekie.


Sovereign Saved

Sovereign in Royal Quays
Sovereign in Royal Quays

Members of NEMT have purchased Sovereign, which until February was the UK’s oldest working fishing boat. She was built in 1936 by Nobles of Fraserburgh and has been little altered since. Latterly she has been in the care of Keith Alexander who fished with her out of North Shields. Sovereign is a classic motor fishing boat of the middle of the twentieth century, a forty three footer with the beautiful hull shape developed for giving the manoeuvrability needed to work the ring net. The National Maritime Museum has placed her on the National Register of Historic Ships, certificate no.164.
At present Sovereign is berthed in St Peters alongside the restored fishing boats Rachel Douglas and Favourite but it is hoped that funds will soon be raised to get her onto the slipway for commencement of an authentic restoration.

Peggy is back in the Water

Sculling out of Stays
Sculling out of Stays

A Coble Restored
Old Northumbrian sailing coble “Peggy” has just been re-launched after extensive restoration work by Fred Crowell, Tyneside’s last wooden boatbuilder. Fred has been rebuilding the vessel over the last three months in his workshop next door to the North East Maritime Trust in Wapping Street, South Shields.
The 80 year old boat was saved by Mick Dawson (one of NEMT’s volunteers) and Fred Crowell, who has done much work on historic craft associated with the Trust, has replaced nearly half of the planking, much of the framing together with other difficult work on what was a very tired old boat.
Peggy was built in Amble in 1925 and worked as a fishing boat out of Seahouses, Beadnell and Amble before migrating to Hartlepool where Mick found her.
She joins the growing collection of regional historical working craft, being built up under the umbrella of the North East Maritime Trust.

Bringing boat back to former glory

The saving of the Lifeboat Henry Frederick Swan

WOODEN vessels, from collier brigs to pilot cobles, used to be the work horses of the Tyne. But over the years they have dwindled to almost nothing on the river.
But now a new South Tyneside-based group has committed itself to restoring what it believes is the neglected maritime heritage of this region, beginning with an historic lifeboat. JANIS BLOWER has been looking at the hopes and vision of the North East Maritime Trust. THESE days the Henry Frederick Swan looks as battered a survivor as the Tyne’s maritime traditions.
It could even be said to have fared better.
The new North East Maritime Trust (NEMT) makes no bones of its belief that preservation and promotion of this area’s marine heritage needs a serious boost.
Boat-building skills have almost disappeared, rare vessels are being scrapped, and there is insufficient educational support for passing on the record of our seafaring greatness to generations now coming along.
Even tourism doesn’t tap the wealth of our seagoing legacy effectively enough, they say.
Plus there is a shortage of vessels, local and traditional to the area, on the water, with no guarantee that those that are will still be there for future generations.
What kind of vessels
Well, think of cobles, fishing boats, lifeboats, the double-ended fishing coble known as a mule, to mention just a few: all those largely wooden-built workaday craft that used to fill rivers like the Tyne in profusion but which, somehow, we let slide away unnoticed.
Which is where the Henry Frederick Swan, recorded by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) as being the longest-serving lifeboat in the UK, comes in.
Nearly 90 years after she first came to the river, she has returned to the Tyne to be restored here at South Shields by the newly-formed trust, which hopes she will be only the first of many projects that will redress years of neglect of a great nautical tradition.
With the support of South Tyneside Council and the Barbour Trust, the NEMT has taken premises in Wapping Street on the riverside where the lifeboat will be restored to her former glory.
“I think that the basing of a restoration of a lifeboat in South Shields is particularly apt, given the history of William Wouldhave and Henry Greathead, and the fact that she was a Tynemouth lifeboat originally” said retired naval architect Robert Hunter.
Directors include such influential figures as Peter Weightman, chairman of the Tyne-Tweed Coble and Keelboat Society, and Alec Renwick, founder, chairman and director of Sunderland Maritime Heritage.
Individually, some of the trustees have already themselves acquired and renewed traditional fishing craft for display on the water.
But the trust’s work isn’t just about the end result: that is, a fully-restored vessel.
They also want to offer training opportunities to young people with an interest in wooden boat construction, care and restoration.
“We want to hear from people who are keen to get involved, and to participate as helpers,”
It won over other locations on the north-east coast because of its established maritime roots, say the trust, who were looking for a location where vessels could be maintained by people with traditional skills, and where those skills could be passed on to the next generation.
The trust also wants to build on the success, during the Mouth of the Tyne festival last year, of a Small Ships’ Regatta which was organised by the NEMT’s honorary secretary Alec Renwick and which brought more than 20 traditional sailing boats into the Tyne.
The NEMT is also interested in establishing a maritime centre on the river at South Shields, perhaps even with the construction of a replica collier brigantine.
Plus, a link has been established with the Roman fort of Arbeia which, one day, could lead to the construction of a replica Roman ship of the kind that served the fort when it was an important supply base for Hadrian’s Wall.
n If you are interested in becoming a Friend of the North East Maritime Trust, registration for annual membership costs 10, payable to NEMT Friends. Write to Robert Hunter, 2 Westoe Hall, Westoe Village, South Shields NE33 3EG.
* THE Henry Frederick Swan was built during the First World War at the Cowes yard of S E Saunders on the Isle of Wight.
She cost 6,901 to construct, and was a gift from the widow of Henry Frederick Swan who had been prominent in Tyne shipbuilding circles and was also chairman of the Tynemouth branch of the RNLI for many years.
She replaced the previous Tynemouth lifeboat Henry Vernon, which had been transferred to Sunderland where it remained in service until 1935.
The Henry Frederick Swan’s first recorded rescue was in the winter of 1920 when she went to the assistance of a steam trawler, the Current, that had run aground on the Black Middens.
In subsequent years the lifeboat, housed at Clifford’s Fort at North Shields, was called out many times, but it was her last call-out of that era on the Tyne station that was also the most tragic.
This was shortly before the Second World War when the Cullercoats lifeboat Richard Silver Oliver capsized while on exercise. Six of the 10 lifeboatmen aboard were lost.
The Henry Frederick Swan eventually passed into the reserve fleet in 1939, being replaced by the John Pyemont.
In 1941, however, an air raid destroyed both the RNLI and Tyne Lifeboat Society boathouses at North Shields, together with the boats John Pyemont and James Young that were inside them.
The Henry Frederick Swan consequently returned to service and during the war assisted several vessels, including the submarine Tuna when she ran aground south of St Mary’s Island in 1943.
Eventually the old lifeboat was replaced with a new one, the Tynesider, and was subsequently acquired by local Sea Scouts, passing into private ownership.

Maritime group wins vital cash

A PROJECT to conserve historic north east maritime vessels has received a “kick start” after winning vital grant aid.

The North East Maritime Trust, based in Wapping Street, South Shields, is among 116 schemes in the region sharing grants worth £684,591 in the latest round of the Lottery’s Awards for All programme. Awards for All is the small grants scheme administered