End of an era as name of former shipyard site changed

Swan Hunter
Swan Hunter

SWAN Hunter was founded in 1880 by George Burton Hunter who formed a partnership with the widow of Charles Sheridan Swan, the owner of another Wallsend shipbuilding business.

In 1903, it merged with Wigham Richardson at Neptune Works to bid for the prestigious contract to build the RMS Mauretania.

The most famous ocean going liner in the world was launched from Wallsend on September 20, 1906, and at the time held the record for the fastest Atlantic crossing.

Swan Hunter continued expanding and merging until it was nationalised in 1977.

During its nationalisation, the Royal Navy’s flagship HMS Ark Royal was built, entering service in 1985.

The company was privatised again in 1987, closing its Neptune Yard the following year, before going into receivership in 1993.

It was bought by Dutch millionaire Jaap Kroese, who continued to build and repair ships until the yard was closed in 2006, with the shipbuilding cranes and equipment being sold in 2007.

In its 130-year history, more than 1,600 ships and 400 vessels were built.

Among the other ships built were the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious, the King George V-class battleship, Type 42 destroyers HMS Newcastle and HMS York, Type 23 frigates HMS Northumberland, and Type 22 frigates HMS Sheffield.