Tugs A variety of small tugs were built at Berwick following the revival of shipbuilding in 1950. Many would be destined for work service overseas. 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. British Guyana was the destination for an unnamed 48’ 6’’ long tug that also left Berwick by trailer in July 1956. Ordered by Booker McConnell the vessel was designed for working on the Georgetown harbour estates sugar run. The location of the yard meant a challenging start to the journey as the loaded trailer had to carefully negotiate tight bends at the end of the Old Bridge and at the top of Hide Hill before heading up Marygate and continuing southwards over the New Bridge as shown in the sequnece of photos below. Visible in the third picture of the sequence are the Berwick Advertiser Offices and the since demolished bus station. The bunting in the picture was erected for the visit to the town of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on 10th July 1956. 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. An unnamed 65” twin-screw diesel tug was constructed in 1958. The final tug built during this decade 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. 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. Also powered by twin Rolls-Royce diesel engines the vessel was Fairmile designed with input from Fife Armour London Ltd, 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 sparking fears for the future of the yard. All was to change 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 listed as under the ownership of the Company in 2021. 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 left), was launched from the slip on the 16th October 1970. At 93’ long and weighing 141 tons, Leven Cross developed 1,235 bhp. 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. This was followed by a further name changes to Africa Support 7 and Tamara Seriliemi. The vessel (IMO 7032911), was last located at Male Anchorage, Maldives in April 2020, by the ship tracking website, Marine Traffic. * Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 30th December 1960.
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 Felicidade was built at Berwick for Wilson and Company, Brazil. Photo: © Ward-Philipson
Soldado Petrel on trials behind Berwick Pier in 1959. Photo: © Berwick Advertiser El Tigeel seen here in the Tweed Dock in 1957 with invited guests onboard.Photo: © Berwick Advertiser 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 in Greece in 2005, 40 years after leaving Berwick. Photo: © Nikos Thrylos
Leven Cross pictured on the Tees in the original livery of the Tees Towing Company. Photo: © Brian Fisher
Bows and stern view of Triton, one of two tugs built for the Corinth Canal Company, pictured shortly before launch in 1964.


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