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Smith’s Docks Co. Ltd. (1977)

Sometimes the ships would be two or three deep alongside the quay


Photograph of Smiths Dock, 1977

Smiths Dock, 1977

This photo of Smiths Dry Dock Company, based in North Shields, was taken about 1977 when the whole yard was still working.

The docks themselves were made up of, at the time, one large (No 8), two small (No 2 & No 6), and three medium (Nos 3, 4, & 5). The No 6 dock, I believe, was a floating dock that was once moored alongside but went down to the Teeside Yard belonging to Smiths Docks.

Now I was lucky enough to be around in the heydays of the fifties and sixties and can say that the whole place used to be buzzing like a beehive. In these times there was as many on night shift as on day shift, so the place was always banging and crashing, seven days a week.

Sometimes the ships would be two or three deep alongside the quay and when it came to do a dry docking, it was not unusual to have seven steam tugs working together making sure the docking went smooth without any hitches. This was always a great sight to watch from the top of our old wash-house roof.

The types of ships to be repaired were the likes of tankers, bulk carriers, general cargo, trampers, cargo liners etc. On top of this you had the ships which belonged to the likes of companies in Norway, Greece, Holland, Sweden, etc., etc.

Back in the late sixties, Smiths Docks bought Appleby Street and the surrounding streets of Dean Street, Wilson Street etc., with the idea of expanding the No 8 dock to accommodate the larger built vessels but sadly, this idea never got off the ground and was scrapped, which was a shame really.

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