Life at the end of the road

October 24, 2012

274 ‘not out’ :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, South Shields, Trucks and plant — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 11:01 pm

I was kinda struggling with the title of tonight’s effort peeps and was seriously thinking of ‘2 on 4 off’ after the friggin fog horn that’s been driving me nuts for days. It may not seem like a big deal to you but I’ve passed 1400 posts now on this friggin blog and finding titles can be a bit of an issue. I know I promised to stop swearing some months ago but after almost three weeks of virtual abstinence I just ‘had a couple’ and am feeling quite ‘bolshie’.

I’d fully intended scribbling a few lines down last night as I was feeling particularly smug, not with myself in particular but with how we’d all performed on Tuesday at the fire fighting. In fact if anyone made any ‘cock ups’ it was yours truly as he executed a couple of wrong turns in the smoke filled rooms looking for the ‘casualty’. Still we got there in the end, in zero visibility up two sets of ladders with an unconscious pair of stuffed overalls Smile



Not bad when you consider that the combined age of our five man team was 274 years of age and the yoof of the group was forty Smile This is serious physical work peeps, through hatches, down ladders and all with BA on and in zero visibility.



That steel structure has many openings, rooms, ladders and stairs



and no matter how careful you listen it’s a whole new ‘ball game’ when full of smoke and heat.

Basa ???

The driech day that was Tuesday passed by pretty quickly and once more I headed home via to see how the ‘Spirit of the Tyne’ was doing.



Despite the weather she’d managed to acquire a little more paint Smile


and after a wee squint I headed for the ‘toon’ to find some bargains for my dinner.

Things have changed a little since 1914 Smile

The ‘bargain’ I picked up today at the ‘still fresh’ counter, was called basa and was deposited there by the man from the fish counter. Two lovely looking fish fillets for 85p!!!! ‘What’s basa’ says I to the man in the white hat, ‘it’s like cod’ says he. I didn’t have my glasses but should have known better for it was labelled , that will be the same Young’s that catch prawns in the Atlantic, send them to Thailand for processing and freezing before returning them to the UK and advertising them as ‘sustainable’ Sad smile Anyway they looked good and fried in butter with some boiled potatoes tasted amazing

It was only when I retrieved my glasses and checked out the ‘small print’ on the label which said ‘farmed in Vietnam’ that alarm bells started to ring Sad smile


Now you have to bare in mind that this is an American video produced by by someone with a vested interest in US catfish farming (basa was for a time marketed as catfish in the states and started the ‘catfish wars’) but it does make you think. Personally my opinion is that the USA deposited that much napalm and agent orange in this area that they’ve little room to take the moral high ground, but then I’m just a miserable old crusty. It was a very tasty, firm and nutritious bit of fish Smile

The ‘fire’

After my basa and spuds I got distracted, as one does, on the internet, and I can’t even remember how, but it did involve the Tyne pedestrian tunnel the Wallsend Slipway and Engineering company, and Swan Hunter .


For, residing in my house in Arnish on my living room door is this,


and on my kitchen door this. These two plaques being retrieved from the same shipwreck near my home in 1985 and 1986 in circumstances so bizarrely similar that you would not believe.



You can just see in this picture the brass letters (bottom centre) CHADW, they are from the cargo ship Chadwick built just a stones throw from here



Cargo Ship



CS Swan & Hunter


Yard Number:

1512grt, 980nrt, 250.0 x 35.0 x 18.0ft

C2cyl (32 & 62 x 36ins), 150nhp

Engines by:
Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Co Ltd, Wallsend

1 x Screw


Reg Number:


Robert B Avery & Co, London

Chadwick SS Co Ltd (R B Avery), London


02/07/1892: Wrecked at Clanneache, West Skye

On a voyage from Glasgow to St Petersburg with coal.

The letters now reside in my garden on Raasay along with various other bits of a fine ship that left Swan Hunter’s yard some 130 years ago.

This isn’t the Chadwick but the Plymothian that came out of the same yard a few months later and would have looked very similar

Anyway, all these trips down ‘memory lane’ had me in bed before any blogging could be done, not that I actually slept, for all night long I had the  ‘two seconds on and four seconds off’ of some friggin fog horn keeping me awake Sad smile



However, eventually dawn broke and I arose, got sorted and headed north through the murk to the for the last day of the fire fighting course.



All 274 years of us Smile



Now this is pretty serious sh1t chaps, that’s the outside of the ship Sad smile just imagine what it’s like inside there with a fire going Sad smile

008 010

Having been the first team in yesterday we were the last in today after three other groups, of course by the time we got it in there it was hotter but (fortunately, unfortunately) a burst fire hose had us out quicker, but not before we’d found the casualty.


OK, it didn’t go just as planned but fires never do, just like the instructors said, you can plan and drill as much as you want but something ‘unexpected’ will always happen and I think we all did OK Smile

Public transport

After feeling very smug and satisfied, not just with myself but with everyone on the course I headed home for a shower and late lunch. It was hardly a nice day day but I decided to go wandering to clear my head and take my mind off pressures back home. Now I’ve not used public transport since about 1970 so what I’d got planned was quite ambitious Smile


A trip to Jarrow on the ‘Metro’ and then a wander through the Tyne pedestrian tunnel



something that I’d never heard of until yesterday and it was built in 1951, years before the road tunnel. Not only that but it has the worlds longest and deepest wooden escalator.

030 033

OK, it doesn’t actually work but it’s still a fine piece of engineering Smile






and far better than the lift Smile well, that is until you have to climb up the other side Smile 


037 038

Some 900ft long it was constructed of cast iron pipes bolted together before being concreted and tiled.



It’s a testament to the engineers that built it that this is the only section where the tiles are missing and you can see the cast iron pipe, but to be honest I suspect that this has been done deliberately to asses the tunnels soundness. 


Once out of the historic tunnel that once carried 20,000 folk a day I turned west for the end of Hadrian’s wall and Swan Hunter, but to be honest it was a bit of a disappointment. Swan Hunter was gone and the Roman fort was closed Sad smile


Map picture


However, that’s what’s left of their dry docks and I caught the metro back to North Shields before hopping onto the ‘Pride of the Tyne’ and walking home Smile

Meanwhile back on the west coast

I meant to put these on last night but fell asleep care of the vodka and lack of fog horn

Fergusson's transport

Ferguson’s landing craft ‘Harvest Anne’ helping out the ‘Loch Striven’ by assisting in moving some 14 cement mixer loads for the new water treatment plant. Sounds like around 100 cubic meters of concrete to me.

Eyre sunset

The Moll and Cuilin’s from Eyre


Glamaig sunset

and a glorious sunset, something I’ve not seen in a while. Again, many thanks to George Rankine for reminding me of home.


  1. congratulations on your first foray onto the Metro … you’ll be whizzing round the area like a good’un in no time

    Comment by cazinatutu — October 24, 2012 @ 11:54 pm

  2. “In April 2007, Swan Hunter’s cranes, along with its floating dock and other equipment, were sold to Bharati Shipyards, India’s second largest private sector shipbuilder. The entire plant machinery and equipment from Swan Hunter was dismantled and transported to India over six months to be rebuilt at Bharati Shipyards.” —Wikipedia

    Comment by drgeo — October 25, 2012 @ 1:43 am

  3. Don’t envy the fire training, been in making videos of that and it was a nonsense where I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face with full torch let alone take pictures. Despite knowing the exit was directly behind me it was completely disorientating, when they threw some aviation fuel on the fire box ” theres some light!” I had an embarrasing accident that led to a change of trousers. Happy days 🙂

    Comment by Ron — October 25, 2012 @ 7:14 am

    • Morning Ron and welcome,

      when they threw some aviation fuel on the fire box ” theres some light!” I had an embarrasing accident that led to a change of trousers.

      Don’t feel so bad, when I went through it for the first time eight years ago I came away with singed ears 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 25, 2012 @ 7:18 am

  4. Morning, Paul

    Thanks for the pics of Raasay – I’ve been missing them, but not half as much, I guess, as you miss being able to take them.

    Hope the rest of the course goes well and that time passes to good effect.



    Comment by Sue — October 25, 2012 @ 7:17 am

  5. Hi Paul

    You are doing very well for being exiled in foreign lands. I experienced the same between 86 and 90 in Portsmouth being a highland lass from Inverness. Lonely!!

    Comment by Lynn R — October 25, 2012 @ 7:31 am

    • Four years Lynn!!! four weeks and I’m ready for slashing my wrists 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 26, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

  6. Well, learned something new today. Didn’t know about the pedestrian tunnel under the Tyne and really appreciated your photos of it. And the world’s longest escalator! I wish it was working. Nice to see photos of the crew looking so jolly!

    Comment by Carolyn — October 25, 2012 @ 9:35 am

    • Hi Carolyn, as soon as I read about it I just had to go and see it, a much underrated attraction if you ask me. Sadly I fear they will rip those beautiful wooden escalators out and fit modern ones 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 26, 2012 @ 8:18 pm

  7. Hope you get back to Hadrian’s wall for photos. Didn’t know it was possible to close a wall. Perhaps that’s why the Romans gave up trying to protect themselves—nobody honored the “closed” sign?

    Comment by drgeo — October 25, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

    • Will most definitely try and get over to the wall DrG.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 26, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

  8. paul, get yourself out and about before the rest of the world heritage site shuts down for the winter, the upper reaches of the wall and the views are rather good.

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — October 25, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

    • Hi Steve, Swan Hunter’s yard actually lies on top of the wall!!! I have actually been an a few sections in my ‘yoof’ but I was wanting to go out that way anyway and check out RAF Spadenham. Just keep getting distracted 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 26, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

      • get yourself up this way. we can take you to the back door, so to speak..

        Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — October 27, 2012 @ 7:36 am

  9. Glorious pic of the Cuillins. My fpu insists that ‘basa’ should always be prefaced by ‘gettaefu’ya’. I have no idea of what she speaks. snafu…

    Comment by Kingdomcat — October 25, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

    • Wondered where you’d been KC 🙂 ‘gettaefu’ya’. makes perfect sense to me and I’m from Lancashire 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 26, 2012 @ 8:11 pm

  10. Had basa ‘as a change’ and that was what it was,a change for the worse! Never again we say…
    Enjoying your pics and the interesting facts, almost want to take a holiday there !
    It is cold wet and miserable here, and a visit north is far overdue. Why is the new ferry so big..can the Raasay roads tolerate articulated trucks…are the frequency of the sailings to be reassessed ?
    All the best with the rest of your course.x

    Comment by SOTW — October 25, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

    • Hi She,

      my basa was quite tasty, it was the video that made me feel squeezy 🙂

      Why is the new ferry so big..can the Raasay roads tolerate articulated trucks…are the frequency of the sailings to be reassessed ?

      As to the size, well it does have a thirty year life span and if you go back only 15 years to when we had three sailings a day on a six car ferry a twelve car one would have seemed OTT. Well there has been two articulated trucks to Arnish and they would never have fitted on the old ferries. Frequency of sailings, well they are pretty much ‘set in stone’, though extra crew could mean more, certainly not less.

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 26, 2012 @ 8:04 pm

  11. Quote – ‘These two plaques being retrieved from the same shipwreck near my home in 1985 and 1986 in circumstances so bizarrely similar that you would not believe’ That’s not fair!! You can’t just leave it hanging…. What’s the story ??
    Not heard a foghorn for years :o( thought they all been switched off now that we have GPS?
    Cheers, H

    Comment by Heinz MacHeinz — October 26, 2012 @ 11:51 am

    • OK H, you asked for it 🙂

      It was May 1985 and I was diving the wreck of the good ship SS Chadwick on the west coast of Skye in the shadow of the 1000′ cliffs of An Cheanach. The tide was going like a train, so after the usual grub about with crowbar and hammer amongst the 1500 tons of wreckage I headed back to the anchor that was hooked into the wreck. Finding the anchor was kind of an essential part of the dive as I needed to decompress and a ‘midwater’ stop in that tide would have seen me surfacing several miles south and alone 😦 No problem though, the visibility was good and I knew my way about the wreck, found the anchor and set off up, about twenty feet back up the anchor line I looked down on to the clean white sand below me and saw the unmistakable golden hue of brass. Going back down wasn’t quite so easy against the tide and with air running low but I did it, returning with the “CS Swan & Hunter” plaque under my arm and a big smile on my face.

      It was off the main wreck on the clean sand all alone and had probably been covered for years as there was no growth on it, either that or some other diver had found it on the wreck took it up to his boat, cleaned it then dropped it back in the sea 🙂

      The following May saw me doing virtually the exact same thing with the engine manufacturers plaque, finished dive, on the way back up, looked down, saw plaque on sand!!!!!!! This time it wasn’t so much a smile as a glazed WTF expression.

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 26, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

  12. I’m tempted to print this off and pin it to the door of our fire station. I offered my services a couple of years ago—it’s a retained crew—but they weren’t keen because I’m on the wrong side of 40.

    Comment by Stonehead — October 26, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

    • You should try the Raasay fire brigade Stoney, they’ll take anyone 🙂 Bit of a trek to work right enough 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — October 27, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

      • I’ve got the pushbike handy. 😀

        Comment by Stonehead — October 30, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

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