THE LEGEND OF THE MILLION TONNE TANKER
Ripyard Cuddling (Jack Davitt)
A group of yards along the Tyne,
Decided they, would all combine,
To pool their skills, And then, perhaps,
United, they would beat the Japs.
The early Spring of '98,
Saw all these brains behind one gate,
By August, their endeavour's won,
A tanker of a million ton.
This order set the Tyne alight,
The future now looked very bright,
And so they booked the City Hall,
To hold a Celebration Ball.
The 'Ball' was quite a grand affair,
And everyone one of note was there,
And members of the working class,
Rubbed shoulders with the real top brass.
A merry night was had by all,
At Swan's Amalgamation ball,
But all good things must end, it's true,
And there was still, a big job to do.
Production soon got under way,
And the keel was laid by 'Guy Fawkes Day',
A mighty keel of six inch plate,
It stretched from Swan's to Walkergate
The 'Longy Butts' were ten feet high,
And made the toughest Caulkers cry,
And Platers worked within the sheds,
On 'Tie-Plates' big as Wing Bulkheads.
The Stagers all wore parachutes,
And rubber suckers on their boots,
One Counter, name of Bobby Corbett,
Fell off the mast - he's still in orbit!
The journey to the After-Peak,
Took all of half, a working week.
And though the workers had to hike,
Each Gaffer had a Motorbike.
The Centre-Tanks were such a height,
The Upper Decks were out of sight.
And up among the Beams and Struts,
Two helicopters, checked the Butts.
Inside the Bulbous-Bow one day,
Two Foremen Welders lost their way,
I must report with deep regret,
For all I know they're still there yet.
The human mind could scarcely grip,
The magnitude of this great ship.
This miracle of Tyneside skill,
Was, for the Japs, a bitter pill.
It wasn't just the Japanese,
That Swan and Hunter failed to please,
Before the Launching Celebrations,
The Town would need some alterations.
The Council sat in grim debate,
And hammered out the Township's fate.
They talked all day of sweat and toil,
At night, they burned the midnight oil.
Across the map, they drew a mark,
From Carrville Road to Wallsend Park,
The Drag-Chains from this giant ship,
Would run right through this fated strip.
The Mayor arose, and sad of voice,
Said "Gentlemen, we have no choice,
Though we all love our dear old Town,
We'll have to pull, half of it down."
The "Memorial", and the Masonic Hall,
And Woolworths too, will have to fall,
"The Ship", "The Penny Wet", as well,
And even "Simpson's Grand Hotel".
The morning sky, the sun was greeting,
When Wallsend Council, left their meeting,
The Civic Heads were bowed with fears,
And Civic cheeks were wet with tears.
But, hope forever, springs eternal,
For there in that same mornings "Journal",
Was news that gladdened every eye,
And, in the next verse, I will tell you why.
The news on pages one, and two,
Came like a bolt, out of the blue.
The ship built by, the great combine,
Was two feet wider, than the Tyne.
The Council all began to sing,
The Mayor danced, a Highland Fling,
And passers-by turned round to stare,
As Civic 'duts' tossed in the air.
The Councils' cup, of joy was full,
But elsewhere hopes were very dull.
The heads of 'Swan and Hunter Group',
Were well and truly in the soup.
The brains assembled in their lair,
Sir John himself was in the Chair,
"The problem, gentlemen", - I quote,
"Is how to get our ship afloat"
They sat all day, and made their plans,
And ended with, a show of hands.
Their scheme, though born, of desperation,
Resolved, a tricky situ-ation.
On Monday, June, the twenty - third,
The most amazing Launch occurred,
They turned the berth the other way,
And launched the ship at Whitley Bay
It thundered past the "Rising Sun",
This giant of, a million ton,
"High Farm Estate", and "Biggs's Main"
Will never be, the same again.
No Architect could ever cure,
The damage done, to Shiremoor,
And all agreed, it was a pity,
The Drag-Chains wrecked, the "Spanish City"
The backwash, from when it hit the sea,
Drowned fifty pigs at Peterlee,
The BBC reported panic,
When giant crabs invaded Alnwick.
At last the giant Super-Tanker,
In sixty fathoms, lay at anchor,
A massive structure painted grey.
Lay brooding over, Whitley Bay.
Three shifts of Fitters, toiled like slaves,
As this great monster rode the waves,
Completing in one busy year,
The engines, and, the steering gear.
The happy day arrived at last,
When, pennants flying from the mast,
The giant ship got under way,
And left the shore, off Whitley Bay.
But trouble, seemed to dog this ship,
For early on, her maiden trip,
She turned to Port, just off Penzance,
And dislocated half of France.
Chirac, who seemed, a trifle vexed,
To Blair, he said, "Whatever next?"
"Your ship has caused great complications,
I'm off to tell, the United Nations".
A block vote by the Bamboo Curtain,
And the Tankers fate, was sealed for certain,
In spite of Tony Blair's vain pleas,
They banned her from the seven seas.
Mid scenes of grief, and deep emotion,
They anchored her in, the Arctic Ocean,
And there, in that far Northern clime,
She's doing penance for her crime.
Though Politicians fought her case,
They couldn't save the tankers face.
In spite of all their flowery words,
She's now a sanctuary for the birds.
Out there, beneath the Arctic skies,
A part of France's Coastline lies,
And traces too, you can be sure,
Of Biggs's Main and Shiremoor.