South Shields Local History Group

Under Construction

Ship Models

Model of 1st class torpedo boats TB 21 and TB 22, 1908

Between 1908 and 1910 R. & W. Hawthorn, Leslie & Co. Ltd. built four 1st class torpedo boats, and three were also built a little further down river at the Jarrow works of Palmers Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd.

This model represents the torpedo boats TB 21 and TB 22, built at Hawthorn Leslie’s Hebburn Shipbuilding Yard in 1908. 36 vessels of this type were built by various shipyards in Britain during the years 1905-10. They were intended for coastal defense, and the first 12 were originally classed as ‘coastal destroyers’. The armament of this type of craft consisted of two 12-pounder 12 cwt guns and three 18-inch torpedo tubes, each on a separate turntable. The ships had a crew of 39.

Both TB 21 and TB 22 survived the First World War and were sold for breaking up in 1920.

TWCMS : B9703


Builder: John Readhead & Sons Ltd., South Shields
Engines: Readheads
Yard No. 7 (Government Series, 1915-20)
Launched: 5 September 1917
Completed: 1917
Built for: Royal Navy
Fate: Broken up at Dover, 1923
44 P (Patrol) boats were built between 1915 and 1917 under the Emergency War Programme. They were needed to relieve destroyers of patrol and escort work and submarine hunting. The design was simple so the boats could be built in shipyards unused to building warships. 19 P boats were built in North East, of which three were built in South Shields. P31, P47 and P48 were built by John Readhead & Sons Ltd. They were the fastest ships ever built at Readheads, capable of speeds in excess of 22 knots.

The P boats had a large rudder area and a hull that was strongly cut up aft to give rapid turning. A resemblance to large submarines was fostered to give the boats a chance to close the range and sink a German U-boat by ramming or gunfire. A low, sharply cut away funnel added to that impression.

The armament consisted of a single 4 inch gun, a 40 mm anti-aircraft gun, two 14 inch torpedo tubes and depth charges.

P48 served with the Dover Patrol from 29March 1918 until December 1918.

In May 1923 she was sold for breaking up by the Dover Ship Breaking Co., at Dover.

TWCMS : B9665

SS Langleebrook

Builder: Palmers Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd., Hebburn
Engines: Palmers
Yard No. 999
Launched: 15 January 1930
Completed: March 1930
Built for: Medomsley Steam Shipping Co. Ltd., Newcastle
Fate: Broken up in Japan, 1963
ss Langleebrook was a cargo ship built in Palmers’ Hebburn shipyard in 1930 for the Medomsley Steam Shipping Company. She was one of the last ships to be built by Palmers at Hebburn. Langleebrook had a long career that saw her tramping her way across the world, firstly under local ownership but later sold to Greek owners, N.G. Kyriakides, in 1948 and renamed Mary K. In 1952 she was sold to Japan where she ended her days as Eizan Maru in 1963, when she was broken up in Osaka.

TWCMS : B9640

MV Camellia

Builder: John Readhead & Sons Ltd., South Shields
Engines: Readheads
Yard No. 571
Launched: 21 October 1952
Completed: February 1953
Built for: Stag Line Ltd., North Shields
Fate: Broken up at Blyth, 1977

MV Camellia was a bulk carrier built by Readheads for the Stag Line Shipping Company of North Shields in 1953 (all Stag Line ships were given horticultural names).

In the late 1950s Stag Line management were very quick to recognise the potential of the St. Lawrence Seaway for deep sea ships. Camellia was chartered to load grain and was fitted with equipment for the St. Lawrence Seaway, entering the Seaway on 3 May 1959, just eight days after it had opened to commercial traffic.

Camellia was sold in 1972 after Stag Line acquired larger, more modern bulk carriers, including Zinnia which was built by Readheads in 1968. In 1977 Camellia returned to the North East for the last time, when she was broken up at Blyth.

Loan: James Fisher PLC
TWCMS : 2001.3723


HMS Kelly

Builder: R. & W. Hawthorn, Leslie & Co. Ltd., Hebburn
Engines: R. & W. Hawthorn, Leslie & Co. Ltd., St. Peter’s, Newcastle
Yard No. 615
Launched: 25 October 1938
Completed: 23 August 1939
Built for: Royal Navy
Fate: Sunk, 23 May 1941 (Battle of Crete)

HMS Kellyis one of South Tyneside’s most famous warships. Built at Hawthorn Leslie’s Hebburn shipyard in 1939, HMS Kelly was brought into service just 11 days before the start of the Second World War. She suffered a turbulent start to her career, surviving damage from sea mines, a collision with HMS Gurkha and, in May 1940, attack from E- boats and bombers in the Battle of Norway. On all of these occasions she survived. Her luck finally ran out in 1941 when she was sunk in the Mediterranean during the evacuation of Crete.

The Kelly has always been the source of immense local pride. It was widely acknowledged that it was the exceptional quality of the Kelly‘s design and the workmanship of those who built her that enabled her to survive as long as she did. The story of HMS Kelly was the inspiration behind the 1942 film, In Which We Serve starring Noel Coward and John Mills.

This model of HMS Kelly isn’t strictly accurate. But, we think that can be excused because its maker, Stuart Milligan, built the model while working as a pipefitter on an oil rig, with limited materials and few historical sources to work with. Stuart made the hull from small sections of copper tubing, which he cut and flattened out. As such, Stuart’s model follows a long tradition of sailor-made models and marine folk art.

TWCMS : 2001.3768


SS Homecliffe

Builder: John Readhead & Sons Ltd., South Shields
Engines: Readheads
Yard No. 461
Launched: 19 April 1920
Completed: July 1920
Built for: Cliffe Steamship Co. Ltd. (G.T. Readhead & Co., managers), South Shields
Fate: Scuttled (sunk deliberately) as part of Gooseberry No. 4 harbour at Normandy, France

SS Homecliffe was a cargo ship built by Readheads in 1920 for the Cliffe Steamship Company, a Readhead family owned and managed shipping company. The company was perhaps named after John Readhead’s house “Rockcliffe” in Westoe Village. Homecliffe and the other Cliffe ships were managed by George T. Readhead.

Homecliffe was sold to Bristol owners in 1934 and renamed Avon Valley. Then in 1944 she passed to the Ministry of War Transport before coming to an unusual end, being one of 55 old merchant ships sunk in June 1944 to form the “Gooseberry” breakwater which protected the Mulberry Harbours constructed after the D-Day landings.

Loan: Rodney Towers
TWCMS : B9627


HMS Transport Ferry No. 3016

Builder: R. & W. Hawthorn, Leslie & Co. Ltd., Hebburn
Engines: North Eastern Marine Ltd., Wallsend
Yard No. 678
Launched: 14 December 1944
Completed: 1945
Built for: Royal Navy
Fate: Broken up in Spain, 1980

The design for this vessel was developed to land large numbers of tanks on a beach during amphibious landings. This ship was designated LST (Landing Ship Tank) 3016 and she could carry between 18 and 30 tanks, dependent on their size. She could also carry a landing craft (LCT), as seen here (LCT 2188 was built by the Bison Shipbuilding Co. of North Tonawanda, New York in 1942). This builders model, with its contemporary label, HMS Transport Ferry No. 3016, suggests that her builders already knew that her role was changing. In 1947 she was renamed HMS Dieppe. She continued as a ro-ro (roll-on/roll-off) ferry until 1967 when she became a harbour accommodation ship. In 1980 she was sold for breaking in Santander, Spain.

TWCMS : 1997.378



Builder:J.T. Eltringham & Co., South Shields
Engines: George T. Grey, South Shields
Yard No. 249
Launched: 14 July 1904
Completed: August 1904
Built for: Adelaide Steam Tug Co. Ltd., Port Adelaide, Australia
Fate: Broken up in Australia, 1955

“Wato” means “take hold” in an aboriginal dialect.

A Shields Gazette report on the launch of Wato in July 1904 stated:

“The handsome screw salvage tug Wato was launched on Thursday from the Stone Quay Shipyard of Messrs. Jos. T. Eltringham & Co., at South Shields. The vessel has been built to the order of Messrs. The Adelaide Steam Tug Co. of South Australia, and is of the following dimensions: Length 132 ft., breadth 23 ft. 6 in., depth 13 ft. 3 in. The tug takes Lloyd’s highest class, and will also carry a Board of Trade certificate for the machinery. Excellent accommodation is provided for crew and officers, and there is also a spacious stateroom for the use of surveyors. The saloon is very handsomely panelled in light oak with rosewood seats and table, while excellent bathroom accommodation is provided on the main deck. There is a large bridge carrying the wheelhouse, boats, etc., and both it and the main deck are of teak. The main engines have been constructed by Mr. Geo. T. Grey, of the Holborn Engine Works, and are of the inverted triple expansion type, having cylinders 17 in., 28.5 in., and 46 in., by 30 in. stroke, steam being supplied by a large steel boiler, also constructed by Messrs. Eltringham, for a working pressure of 180 lbs per square inch. The auxiliary machinery, besides evaporator, feed heater, and filter, includes steam reversing gear, two large duplex horizontal pumps, steam windlass, steam steering gear, and steam towing winch. There is also a large centrifugal salvage pump capable of raising about 700 tons of water per hour. The vessel is lighted throughout by electricity, and carried a powerful search light projector. On leaving the ways the vessel was christened the Wato by Mrs. A.E. Farminer. The Wato is expected to leave for Australia in about a month.”

Wato departed the Tyne on 1 September 1904, bound for Port Adelaide, South Australia via the Suez Canal, commanded by a Captain Sinclair of Glasgow and a crew of 17 hands.

Between 1917 and 1921 Wato was requisitioned by the Admiralty and stationed at Gibraltar, employed as a minesweeper in the Mediterranean and in the towing of ammunition barges. She also saw service in the Second World War, being requisitioned as a rescue tug between 1941 and 1946, armed with two machine guns.

TWCMS : 2001.3688


Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums

Terry Ford

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