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Ballad of the Big Ships

In The Beginning
Ewan MacColl 1915 - 1989
Peggy Seeger 1935 -
Charles Parker 1919-1980
The Original Ballads
The Ballad of John Axon 1957
Song of a Road 1958
Singing the Fishing 1959
The Big Hewer 1960
The Body Blow 1961
On the Edge 1962
The Fight Game 1963
The Travelling People 1964
The New Radio Ballads
John Tams
The Song Of Steel
The Enemy That Lives Within
The Horn of the Hunter
Swings and Roundabouts
Thirty Years of Conflict
Ballad of the Big Ships

Monday 3rd April 2006 

Ballad Of The Big Ships

Shipyards of Tyne & Wear and Clyde.

The final programme in the 2006 Radio Ballads series examines the lives of shipbuilders from Tyne and Wear and the Clyde, two regions with a proud maritime history. Shipbuilding has been in the blood for generations on these rivers, although the heyday for both communities is well in the past. The men and women in The Ballad of the Big Ships talk about how building ships has driven their lives, their hopes, their humour and their culture.

Shipyard closures in the twentieth century took place during economic slumps and occurred in two phases, between 1909-1933 and 1960-1993. Early closures included Smiths Dock at North Shields in 1909, which became a ship repair yard, Armstrongs of Elswick in 1921, Richardson Duck of Stockton (1925), Priestman's of Sunderland (1933) and Palmers of Jarrow and Hebburn (1933). There were 28 North East closures in this period of which 14 were on the Tyne, 7 on the Wear, 6 on the Tees and 1 at Hartlepool. Six shipyards closed in the 1960s including W.Gray of Hartlepool (1961), Short Brothers of Sunderland (1964) and The Blyth Shipbuiding Company (1966). There were five closures in the region in the 1970s including the Furness yard at Haverton Hill, near Stockton, in 1979.

Only Remembered

Fading away like the stars in the morning

Losing their light in the glorious sun

Thus would we pass from this earth and its toiling

Only remembered for what we have done


Only the truth in the fife we have spoken

Only the seed that in life we have sown

These shall pass onwards when we are forgotten

Only remembered for what we have done


Who'll sing the anthem and who'll tell the story

Will the line hold will it scatter and run

Shall we at last be united in glory

Only remembered for what we have done


[traditional/John Tams] 

Tyneside Shipyard 1986 [click for larger image]


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