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July 2015

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Leven Cross
Leven Cross
Click on the image for more information and pictures of Leven Cross the biggest and most powerful tug to be built at Berwick.

 

 

Tugs

A variety of tugboats were built at Berwick following the revival of shipbuilding in 1950. Many would see service overseas.

Mamaal
Maamal, the first ever tug to be constructed at Berwick was built while the yard was still owned by William Weatherhead and Sons..
Photo© Berwick Advertiser

The first tug to be built at Berwick was a 53-ton vessel Maamal built for the Port of Aden Trust and launched in September 1951.  Contemporary accounts describe how with minutes to go before the launch ceremony workmen were still welding, hammering and painting while others were preparing the bogies.  Powered by a 250 h.p. Blackstone engine and propelled by a single four-bladed propellor, Maamal developed a steady static pull of 4.75 tons while on trials. 

A further six tugs were built during the 1950’s, almost all of them for overseas customers.  Felicidade left Berwick by trailer in August 1952 bound for Liverpool before being shipped to Recife, Brazil where it entered service with Wilson and Co.  The design followed conventional lines apart from the fact that headroom had to be restricted to allow the vessel to pass under low bridges when in service. Power was provided by a 120 h.p. four-cylinder direct reversing engine that provided a top speed of 8 knots.

 

 

Felicidade was built at Berwick for Wilsonand Company, Brazil.
Felicidade was built at Berwick for Wilson and Company, Brazil. Photo: © Ward-Philipson

British Guyana was the destination for an unnamed 48’ 6’’ long tug that also left Berwick by trailer in 1956. Ordered by Booker McConnell the vessel was designed for working on the Georgetown harbour estates sugar run.

Tug at the end of the Old Bridge.
Tug at corner of Hide Hill.
Over the years a number of vessels like this tug for British Guyana left Berwick by road for shipping elsewhere. These photographs were taken in 1956. The top picture is taken at the end of the Old Bridge. The bottom picture shows the trailer negotiating the corner at the top of Hide Hill. Both Photos: © Berwick Advertiser

In 1957 the yard built two bigger tugs that were destined for Sudan.  El Tigeel and El Kabir had an overall length of  74’ 10” and were powered by a Ruston Hornsby diesel engine capable of developing 313 b.h.p..  Both vessels were distinct in that they had a second elevated bridge designed to allow them to handle barges loaded to a considerable height with cotton.  The hulls were also riveted to allow easy repair at Port Sudan if necessary.

El Tigeel - one of two vessels built for the Port of Sudan Authority.
El Tigeel seen here in the Tweed Dock in 1957 with invited guests onboard.
Photo: © Berwick Advertiser

An unnamed 65” twin-screw diesel tug was constructed in 1958.  The final tug built during the 1950’s was the twin-screw Rolls-Royce-powered diesel vessel, Soldado Petrel, launched in February 1959.  Soldado Petrel would see service in the West Indies with Texaco Trinidad.

Soldado Petrel
Sodado Petrel on trials behind Berwick Pier in 1959. Photo: © Berwick Advertiser

The West Indies was also the destination for a fire tug, Erif (‘Fire’ spelt backwards), built for the Kingston Harbour Authorities in Jamaica in 1961.  This vessel was constructed during what was a ‘boom’ period for the yard following the success of Fairmile in winning orders for ‘Fair Isle’- class fishing vessels and luxury yachts.  Soon afterwards orders quickly dried up and there were large-scale lay-offs and fears for the future of the yard.  All that changed however when the yard was successful in winning orders to build two tugs, Triton and Thetis for the New Corinth Canal Company.  Seventy-three feet in length and powered by twin Crossley 362 h.p. engines both vessels had a static bollard pull of 12 tons and top speed of 11.5 knots.  Completed in November 1964 and February 1965 Triton and Thetis were both still in service on the Corinth Canal in 2007.

Triton

In 1963 fears for the future of the yard were eased when Fairmile was successful in winning orders for two tugs for the New Corinth Canal Company.


Thetis on the Tweed
Built for service on the Corinth Canal, Thetis, sister vessel to Triton seen here underway on the River Tweed. Thetis was launched by Lady Gault, wife of Sir James Gault a director of Fairmile in 1965.
Photo: © Bill Todd

Thetis pictured at work in Greece 40 years after being built by Fairmile Construction at Berwick upon Tweed.
Thetis pictured at work in Greece 40 years after being built by Fairmile Construction at Berwick upon Tweed.
Photo: © Nikos Thrylos

Another picture of Thetis this time taken in September 2007.
Another picture of Thetis this time taken in September 2007. Both Thetis and Triton have been re-engined. The original Crossleys have been replaced by twin Kelvin TASC-8 engines. Photo: © Nikos Thrylos

Leven Cross
Leven Cross, the biggest and most powerful tug to be built at Berwick. Photo:© Berwick Advertiser .

During the mid 1960’s five small river tugs of between 20 and 24  feet in length were built for Kadur province in India.  The final tug to be built at Berwick however, was also to be the biggest and most powerful.  Leven Cross, built for the Tees Towing Company (see picture below), was launched from the slip on the 16th October 1970.  At 93’ long and weighing 141 tons, Leven Cross developed 1,235 b.h.p. from two 6-cylinder Crossley CGL6 diesel engines.  In addition to towing, Leven Cross was also designed for fire fighting and at one point was was operated by Cleveland County Council Fire Brigade and known as Cleveland Enterprise.  Since then the former Leven Cross has undergone several further changes of name and ownership and in 2006 was Greek-owned and operating out of Piraeus as Agia Trias. In July 2012 the vessel changed hands once more and was based in Nigeria under the new name of Fendercare 7.

 

Leven Cross
Leven Cross in her original livery on the River Tees in December 1982. Photo:© Brian Fisher
Cleveland Enterpirise - Ex-Leven Cross
Cleveland Enterprise, Ex-Leven Cross, Seen here in the livery of Cleveland County Councl Fire Brigade.
Photo: © Michael Green

Agia Trias (the former Leven Cross). At some point during the vessels history the curved top of the funnel has been removed.
Agia Trias (the former Leven Cross) pictured at Perama, Greece in 2005. At some point during the vessels history the curved top of the funnel has been removed. Photo: © Nikos Thrylos

Agia Trias, the former Leven Cross, pictured at the Eastern end of the Corinth Canal in 2007.
Another fine picture of Agia Trias, the former Leven Cross, this time taken at the Eastern end of the Corinth Canal in 2007. Photo: © Tapio Karvonen
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