Swan Hunters Shipyards

See also AP Appledore Shipyard - Disused

Swan Hunter, formerly known as "Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson", is one of the best known shipbuilding companies in the United Kingdom. Based in Wallsend, Tyne and Wear, the company was responsible for some of the greatest ships of the early 20th century — most famously, the RMS Mauretania which held the Blue Riband for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic, and the RMS Carpathia which rescued the survivors from the RMS Titanic.

As the name suggests, the company represented the combined forces of three powerful shipbuilding families: Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson.

Swan & Hunter was formed in 1880. In 1903, it merged with Wigham Richardson (founded by John Wigham Richardson as Neptune Works in 1860), specifically to bid for the prestigious contract to build the Mauretania on behalf of Cunard. Their bid was successful, and the new company, Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd, went on to build what was to become, in its day, the most famous ocean going liner in the world. RMS Mauretania was launched from Wallsend on Tyne on 20th September 1906 to the cheers of huge crowds. She left service in 1935.

The shipyard survived until 1993, then trading as "Swan Hunter", when it was forced to call in the receivers after the UK government awarded the contract for HMS Ocean to Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd in Barrow in Furness for a cut down price, which later turned out to be artificial. The final cost of the ship was more than £50 million in excess of Swan Hunter's quoted tender. The ship has been dogged with problems ever since as the UK government failed to recognise the depth of expertise within Swan Hunter.

Swan Hunter once owned the Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Company, which built the engines for some of its greatest ships. The company was an early manufacturer of Charles Algernon Parsons turbine engines, which enabled the Mauretania to achieve its great speed.

The current flagship of the Royal Navy, HMS Ark Royal was built at Swan Hunter, entering service in 1985.
Text taken from Wikipedia






May 2006

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August 2006

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April 2007

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Demolition Photos - March 2008

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Demolition Photos - May 2008

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Demolition Photos - September 2008

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Demolition Photos - November 2008



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Demolition Photos - November 2008






Demolition Photos - April 2009
Taken just before the cranes left for India.


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May 2010







February 2014











Dismantling of a crane at Swans. May 2007.





The last Swan Hunter's cranes are blown up. 4th June 2010.




More information:



More Abandoned Photography:

11 comments:

Angelus71 said...

It's sad to see it like that.

My Granddads, Uncles and Father, all worked in the yards. I thought I would have too, but it was starting to be closed down when I was leaving school back in the 80's.

ILuvNUFC said...

Yeh' I know what you mean. I was born within a couple of hundred yards of the place and my old man worked there for many years too.

Since my last visit most of the sheds have gone and the place seems eerie.

Anonymous said...

Ihave fond memories of The Shipyards of Swan Hunters,i worked for an outside contracter fitting sonar domes to naval ships in the large dry dock.We had our lunch in the big canteen very day,i was only a nipper at the time and working away fropm home a month at a time and it was a welcome relief to have a hot cooked meal instead of living on takeaways.On my last trip to Swans they had just lost the contract to build the navys lataest assault ship, this must of been approx 1992, and this virtually signed the death warrant for Swans, atleast that was the opinion that i got from all the workers in the yard at the time.
I was sure that we would not be returning to Swans ,and i was right.
I still have my red Swan Hunters safety hat,and wear it at work when i need to, must be worth a few bob now.It is very sad to see the demolition pics on this sight.The sweat of so many generations of men shoulld not be forgotten,is there a plaque of some sort to remember the great days of the ship builders that were Swans.
Bigtay

ILuvNUFC said...

Thanks for the memories.

I'm sure a token plaque will be placed on the site when it is regenerated but I don't remember seeing anything like that at the moment.

Paul said...

That is a very nice collection of photos of Swan Hunters in it's final days, and as such a pretty important archive, thankyou for that.
However time moves on and there are signs of a revival of industry on the Tyne.
There is the wind turbine factory being built on the Neptune site - as photographed elswhere on this website.
And along the river a work is starting on a major offshore order which will see the Hadrian yard take on 1000 workers.
You can never keep the Tyne down for long !
And even old Swans is soon to see some new activity with oil rig recycling work being brought there.
Not quite the Supertankers and Aircraft carriers builds of the past but better than nothing !

ILuvNUFC said...

Thanks.

It's great to see the old sites coming back to life again.

Arthur Reed said...

Hi I was born in Hunter st 1941 have been in Austraila since 1962 visited wallsend sept 2011 very sad that ther was nothing left to see of the old street in fact it has all changed all my memories of the area have gone it seems that it was never there but of those that lived there how can we forget the mad rush of men running up Swans bank at 5.15 pm I well rember it as I used to stsnd there selling the evening chronicle for a penny happney great memories thank you for your great site these are the thing that keep ex pats going thanks again Arthur Reed in Whyalla sth Australia

ILuvNUFC said...

Thanks. Did you also see this page RMS Mauretania at Swan Hunters?

Samson ( Electrain ) said...

Hi Samson, It was a grate place in its day, a lot of good men and their families worked at Swans and other yards on the Tyne, Lots of ships big and small, its hard to think its gone, good luck to all who worked there.

Andy Crossland said...

Hello all,

I am trying to get the lyrics of "Taking on men" by Jez Lowe. Great song... about the shipyards.

about 40 seconds in he sings about "from ???swan shouts??? to Neptune". Neptune I think is Neptune yard but for the life of me I cannot place the first word. Does anyone have a clue?

Can be listened to here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hByIrvn1zMs

Thank you in advance!

Anonymous said...

I served my time at Swans during the supertanker era,sad to see it gone.Went back during the Solitaire period,it was sad to see it mostly mothballed then.

Haven't been back to geordieland for around 20 yrs now as I have lived in Australia for the last 36 yrs.

Must be due a visit to home for a bottle of broon