Songs from the Age of Steam

The Tyne Before 1851

Steamers were first used as tug boats on the Tyne. They enabled ships to go in an out regardless of weather or tide; they increased the size of the ships that could be brought in from 240 to 400 tons; and they increased the average number of passages made by each vessel from 8 to 13 per year

A south shields pilot writing as "Ben Mainmast," wrote 'A New song on the opening of the Newcastle and Shields Railway' {niri} which although inspired by the railway also described how steamers had transformed the traffic on the Tyne

All this greatly enriched the city of Newcastle and its hinterland and prompted the establishment of a steam ferry across the river. As happened in London, the little boats and their boatmen were the losers. The reduction of the fleet following the defeat of Napoleon caused great distress in the town and municipal work projects were undertaken in the area partly to provide relief for discharged soldiers and sailors . 'The Steam Ferry was written in anticipation of the ferry's arrival and records the arguments for and against the scheme.

But the complaints of the scullermen did not hinder the establishment of the steam ferry which began service in 1829


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