Overview of the Songs and Poems in this Category:

Most of the songs in this category were printed as broadsides¹ and  are concerned with the welfare of ordinary Tynesiders.

Main Themes and Motifs

- The impact of steamboats on river traffic and watermen¹ of all sorts.

- The impact of railways on river traffic and the wider economy of Tyneside.


1820-29   647
1830-39   054*; 273; 564

* The earliest and latest dates for this item extend across decades. See item more information.

Historical Background


The first Steamers on the Tyne were used as tug boats. The illustration above shows the first such tug - 'Perseverance' - towing a geordie² into Newcastle in 1818. Steamers 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 [i]

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 under-taken in the area partly to provide relief for discharged soldiers and sailors. Bar647~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 scullers¹ did not hinder the establishment of the steam ferry which began service in 1829 [ii]

From 1839 onwards railways competed with river boats for passenger traffic.


[i] Lewenhak, Sheila. Steamships and Shipbuilders in the Industrial Revolution. (London, Longman, 1978)
[ii] Lewenhak, Sheila.


3 across Articles in this Category: click a link

Steam Ferry

bar647: Dates 1827~1829|

Presents the arguments for and against the introduction of a steam ferry. [647Synopsis]

Newcastle & North Shields Railway

bar564b: Dates 1839~1839|

A sail maker laments the effect of the railway upon river boats.

Newcastle And Shields Railway

bar273b: Dates 1839~1839|

A Tyne river pilot anticipates the impact of steam boats and railways.

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