We Made Ships

At the start of the 20th century, almost half of the world's ships were being made in the North East of England.  Along the four rivers of the Blyth, Tyne, Wear and Tees, many families relied on the shipbuilding and repair industry for their livelihood.

But by the start of this century only one yard, Swan Hunter on the Tyne, remained active.

Throughout the 20th century there were many changes to the way ships were built. Workers were at times very busy, but at other times there was little or no work. Despite these hardships, there are stories of comaraderie and community.

Who were the people who built those ships? What was it like to work in the busy shipyards? And what was it like for people to see the yards close and the rivers change forever?

Many historians have focused on why the shipyards closed.

We Made Ships brings together photographs, videos and oral histories so that we can begin to piece together what the shipyards were like for the people who worked there.

Four Rivers

People and Processes