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Clelands Shipbuilding Yard

Willington Quay Wallsend 1867 - 1983

Everybody is smiling and happy,
Another ship on the slip ready to go.
This one is for Fred Everard shipping,
That is three for them in a row.

As she sits on the slipway runners,
Looking so wonderful grand and fine.
Soon she is ready to make way,
For the next keel in line.

Everything is all set and ready,
The launch is on green.
With lots of flags and pennants flying,
She is the best dressed ship to be seen.

The bottle of champagne is smashed,
She has been blessed ready for sea.
The launch is going so perfect,
Just as all knew it would be.

Sliding on the grease and grime,
Down in to the Tyne she will flow.
Drag chains bang rattle and crash,
Then the tugs their whistles do blow.

Now the years are rolling on,
Is this next keel for the last hull?
No one wants to really know,
For order books always seemed to be full.

Life has started to get dreary and dull,
Lads were paid off from here and there.
Welders, burners, all types of trades,
British shipbuilders just did not seem to care.

The rumours turned out to be right,
The closure of the yard is a must.
The lads are told do not even put up a fight,
For in no time Cleland’s yard will just be dust.

When they talk about the old yard,
The lads have happy thoughts and smiles.
For when it came to building the coasters,
Clelands was the best in the whole British Isles.

Editor’s note:
Clelands opened in 1867 when William Cleland, once a manager at T & W Smith of North Shields decided to set up on his own in Willington Quay. In 1967 the yard became part of Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. It closed in 1983.

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