Sale’s ship book

Two handwritten books containing the details of ships built by Swan Hunter between the 1960s and 1980s that were salvaged from a skip when the receivers were called into the yard are to be sold at auction.

Swan Hunter ships particular bookDave Gray, who worked at the Wallsend shipbuilder for 22 years and was employed by the receivers to help clear the site and offices in 1993, found the two books among the detritus destined for the rubbish tip. He fished them out and was given permission to keep them.

The books – a Ships Particular Book containing the details of 57 ships between 1973 and 1987, and Builder’s Certificate book containing 51 completed certificates between 1961 and 1974 – both have Tyne & Wear County Archives labels pasted inside. They will be auctioned as part of the Anderson & Garland Fine Art Sale in Newcastle on June 14 and 15.

Mr Gray said: “I found the books in a skip full of rubble, seats and desks. I saw the big heavy leather bound one first and pulled it out. The other was next to it and I thought they were of interest and too good to be thrown away.

“They are all hand-written in pen and ink and contain all the inventories about what was taken on the ships, their speeds, distances and weights.

“There is one ship on each page, with the date it was built and all the numbers relating to it. I think they’ll be interesting to people interested in maritime history.”

Mr Gray left the books in storage at his father’s house when he was divorced and recently rediscovered them when he was clearing his dad’s property.

The two books together have an estimated value of £100-£200.

Anderson and Garland auctioneer Fred Wyrley-Birch said, “They contain details of 57 ships in one and 51 in the other, including all the Russian ships built by Swan Hunter in the early 1970s. There is information about which stretch of the Tyne they were built on and who commissioned them.

“The books are really fascinating and we’re expecting a lot of interest from historians and people who are generally interested in ships, especially with the Tall Ships Race coming to Blyth later this summer.”

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