Wallsend, historically Wallsend on Tyne, is an area in North Tyneside, Tyne and Wear, North East of England. Historically part of Northumberland, Wallsend derives its name as the location of the end of Hadrian’s Wall. It has a population of 42,842 and lies 3 1⁄2 miles (5.6 kilometres) east of Newcastle City Centre. The population of the Wallsend ward of the North Tyneside Borough was at the 2011 census 10,304. Wallsend has a history of shipbuilding and was the home of the Wigham Richardson shipyard, which later amalgamated to form Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, probably best known for building the RMS Mauretania. This express liner held the Blue Riband, for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic, for 22 years.
Other famous ships included the RMS Carpathia which rescued the survivors from the Titanic in 1912, and the icebreaker Krasin (launched as Sviatogor) which rescued the Umberto Nobile expedition on Spitzbergen in 1928, when Roald Amundsen perished. The story is retold in the movie The Red Tent, starring Sean Connery and Peter Finch.
Charles Parsons launched his revolutionary Turbinia here in 1894, thus not only revolutionising the navies of the world, but also, through the large-scale production of affordable electricity, making a significant contribution to the modern age. He features in a BBC film called The Inventor of the Twentieth Century.
Wallsend ship repair dry docks, 1987
Russian novelist Yevgeny Zamyatin worked at Swan Hunter in 1916–17, and used it as background for his great anti-utopian work We which was a major influence on George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
WWII ships built here include HMS Sheffield and HMS Victorious which took part in the sinking of the Bismarck. Other ships built there include the new HMS Ark Royal in the 1980s.
The shipyard closed in 2007. The musical The Last Ship by Sting is set in the shipyard. The former Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Company Shipyard continues to operate, constructing offshore oil rigs and as a TV studio, productions from there include the hit ITV drama Vera starring Brenda Blethyn and Inspector George Gently starring Martin Shaw.