Old apprenticeship registers discovered at Discovery Museum

As an archivist it’s always a great feeling when you receive an exciting new donation or you discover a fascinating document in your collections. I experienced that feeling earlier this week as I was working in the Discovery Museum loft with Colin, my colleague on the Sunderland shipbuilding archives project.

Colin and I were called in to look at various collections of documents held by the Museum because it was believed that they included a large number of shipyard records. Many of these were donated in large quantities in the late 1970s and 1980s and were stored so that they could one day be catalogued and made available for research. This role of rescuing items for the future is a common feature of the work of archivists and curators.

The work of sorting and appraising these documents was certainly worthwhile because we found interesting material relating to several Sunderland shipyards including Bartram & Sons Ltd and William Doxford & Sons Ltd. However, the most exciting finds relate to a Tyneside business, R. & W. Hawthorn Leslie & Co Ltd, an internationally renowned builder of ships, locomotives and marine engines. The company was created in 1886 by the amalgamation of two firms – the Newcastle upon Tyne engineers R. & W. Hawthorn (who had works at Forth Banks and St Peter’s) and the shipbuilding company A. Leslie & Co, based at Hebburn.

Aerial photograph of St Peter's Works, Newcastle upon Tyne taken by Turners (Photography) Ltd, 1957 (TWAM ref. 3396/18478J)

As we were sorting through various documents stored on a pallet we came across two old registers. The excitement built as we read the works ‘apprenticeship register’ on the spines and grew when we looked inside and discovered that they once belonged to an illustrious local firm.

The two Hawthorn Leslie apprenticeship registers (TWAM ref. DS.HL/2/106/1-2)

The registers date from 1877 to 1978 and contain details of the men and women who served apprenticeships at Hawthorn Leslie’s marine engineering works at St Peter’s in Newcastle upon Tyne. The earliest entries up to 1886 relate to the firm R. & W. Hawthorn before it merged with A. Leslie & Co. The information given includes: 

  • Name of apprentice
  • Parent’s name (usually the father)
  • Trade
  • Length of apprenticeship.
  • Date of indenture
  • Rates of pay
  • Date agreement expires
  • Home address


Pages from the earlier apprenticeship register (TWAM ref. DS.HL/2/106/1)

Detailed view of entries in apprenticeship register (TWAM ref. DS.HL/2/106/1)

I’m sure that this discovery will be of real interest to family historians and is a particularly exciting find because personnel records have often not survived well within the business records for Tyne & Wear.

The Archives already holds a large, well used collection of Hawthorn Leslie records and the apprentice registers are an exciting addition to it. The registers can be viewed in the Archives searchroom, although access restrictions may apply to entries from 1926 onwards. Details of our location and opening times can be found on our webpages.

93 Responses to Old apprenticeship registers discovered at Discovery Museum

  1. Maj-Gen E.J. YOUNSON says:

    My paternal grandfather, Ralph Gray Younson, was at various times a Foreman-Driller and then a Foreman-Plater at Palmers Hebburn, He originally was apprenticed at Sunderland. He had seven sons, John Oliver Younson, Ralph Younson, George Younson, Tom Younson, Ernest Younson (my father), Robert Younson and Colin Septimus Younson. All served in WW1. All except my father had engineering or shipyard careers. My daughter Frances Younson is an archivist at Cwmbran and has more information than I do. I will be very interested if any of the names I quote turn up in your searches. I have compiled apprentice lists for the Herts County Record office.

  2. Alan Hayward says:

    Thanks for your getting in touch about your ancestors. I’m afraid that relatively few records are known to survive for Palmers shipyard at Jarrow. General details of the records we hold can be found in the user guide to shipbuilding, outfitting, registration and repair on our website http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/archives/userguides/. If I come across any references to Younson family members as I catalogue the Sunderland shipbuilding records I will of course get in touch.

    • Dear Archivist,
      I would be very grateful for your help with my family history research.
      My grandfather and great grandfather worked in Palmers shipyard in Jarrow.My grandfather was killed in an accident at Palmers in 1930. Please could you advise where I might find any apprenticeship records or even newspaper articles about the accident? Thank you very much

      • Alan Hayward says:

        Dear Fiona,

        Thanks you getting in touch. I’m afraid that we don’t have any relevant personnel records for Palmers so we can’t help you there. It might be worthwhile for you to check the local newspapers, though. We don’t keep those but South Tyneside Local Studies Library should be able to help you. Contact details can be found on their website http://www.southtyneside.info/article/8862/Local-history-zone.

        Good luck with your research.


      • Brian Card says:

        Hello, I came across an old wooden marker with the name R.Youlson stamped on it, would you like it?

        • Alan Hayward says:

          Hi Brian,

          Thanks for getting in touch.

          I’m afraid that a wooden marker would be outside the collecting remit of the Archives. If you could give me a bit more information about it, though, I’d be glad to pass the details on to one of my Museum colleagues.

          Best wishes,


  3. Maj-Gen E.J. YOUNSON says:

    Thanks for your response.
    Regards, eric younson

  4. gilian rowland says:


    The 1901 census shows this family (gather lots families not only same
    surname but also parents!) but the child I seek is missing from this.
    Seek info on HENRY knows as harry born c1885 no one can find his birth
    (still working on that) nor the family in he 1891 census. have found his
    early life in Australia where he emigrated with his wife in 1911 – they have
    found him working as a carpenter but “stories are told of his engineering/
    carpentry work on large projects in the UK” – occurred to me thereforet hat perhaps he was an apprentice – are you able to check the records please?
    have no idea how they are filed ie by surname date etc. if born c1885
    perhaps age ten when started so between say 1895 and 1911
    If you can help in any way it would be wonderful. It is infuriating he is
    the only child I can’t find details of and need this info to trace his death
    and descendants in Australia. With thanks Jill Rowlalnd

  5. Alan Hayward says:

    Thank you very much for getting in touch. I’m afraid that owing to restrictions on staff time we can’t search our records free of charge. The demand is really huge! You are very welcome to visit us in person to examine the documents we hold and you can find details of our location and opening times on our website http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/archives/makingavisit/.

    I can appreciate, though, that a visit might not be possible – particularly if you live in Australia. We do have a paid research service, which you can use and details of this can also be found on our website http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/archives/researchservice/. Of course if I happen to stumble across any information about Henry Watson then I will contact you again myself.

    Best of luck with your research,


  6. Maureen Hurst says:

    My father George Henry Conway worked all his life, appart from when the yards were closed in the depression at Pickersgills, later Austin and Pickersgills at Southwick Sunderland. He was a Plater. His father Thomas Conway worked there also and was a rivetter. His father James Conway originally worked on the tyne and would have been apprenticed there about 1860 in 1881 he was living in Southwick and working in one of the shipyards there.Maybe Pickergills, I don’t lnow family legend says that he came to the Wear from the Tyne with Priestman, but in the book I have Priestman didn’t stary his yard in southwick until 1882 and I can’t find information about him having a yard on the Tyne. Other members of the family worked in the southwick yards.
    This is a most interesting website.

  7. Alan Hayward says:

    Thank you very much for your message and the kind words. By a happy coincidence, next month’s blog will focus on some of the personnel records we hold for Austin & Pickersgill and its two predecessors S.P. Austin & Sons and William Pickersgill & Sons. The blog should go live towards the end of April.

  8. John McCallum says:

    I served my apprenticeship at Hawthorn Leslies Engineers at St Peters, Newcastle from 1972 -76. I signed up under my stepfathers surname as John Johnson. I lived in Gateshead and went to Gateshead Boys Grammar School. I later taught part time at Gateshead tech where I had studied after.my first year at Hebburn.
    Presently MD of a Marine services company in Qatar. Good times and memories from my days at Hawthorns, have some old picks and still have my Indenture papers in the UK. Could let you copy them if required.

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Thanks for getting in touch. The Archives holds a lot of Hawthorn Leslie records and if you’re ever back in Newcastle you’d be very welcome to come along and take a trip down memory lane in our searchroom. I’m afraid that we don’t usually accept copies of documents but if you’d consider donating the originals then we’d be delighted to take a look at them.

  9. I served my apprenticeship at Hawthorn Leslie”s from 1956-1961 and worked in the erecting shop 8 west end until 1963, when I left to go to a better paid job with better working conditions at W.D.& H.O. Wills. For the last 2 years I have attended the Hawthorn”s re-union at the Heaton Meadowfield club in October each year.

    • MOIRA DAVIS says:

      How could the working conditions be better in a CIGARETTE FACTORY ?

      • malcolm hodgson says:

        I left Hawthorns for a better paid job, with shorter working hours that was 44 hrs/week at HL and 40 hrs/week at wills. My basic wage was higher and after 9 months, after training on packing machinery my basic wage was 75%higher. There was also a monthly bonus and every March an annual bonus was paid. the first annual bonus was 15% of my gross earnings. On site facilities were 1st class, A nursing sister was on everyday, doctor 3days/wk dentist 2days/wk optician 2days/wk chiropodist 1day/wk. It was warm all year round, tools were supplied also overalls. The factory was very clean we had official tea breaks, and you were NOT expected to smoke, but were still given 40 cigs each week. Sports facilities were second to none, That is just the basic reason why I left Hawthorns, where I could not see any long term future.

      • malcolm hodgson says:

        Also in those days cigarettes were not the pariah that they are now.

  10. Alan Hayward says:

    Thanks for your message. The Archives holds a lot of Hawthorn Leslie records and you’re very welcome to come and take a look by visiting our searchroom. Details of opening times and how to find us are shown on our website http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/tyne-and-wear-archives/visiting-us.html. If you could spread the word at the next Hawthorn Leslie reunion that would be great.

    Best wishes,


  11. Hi Alan, I will certainly put the word around to any ex Hawthorn Leslie employees I come into contact with. I still have my indentures and will drop them into the museum when I am next in Newcastle.

  12. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Malcolm,

    Thanks for your reply. It’s really thoughtful of you to offer to bring your indentures in. Because we already have the apprenticeship registers they probably wouldn’t add much to the collection. However, one area that’s often lacking is photographs of employees at work and play. If you or any former colleagues have photos of that sort (or any other interesting archives) we’d love to add them to our collections.

    Best wishes and thanks again.


  13. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Malcolm,

    Thanks for getting back to me. The photo of the apprentices football team sounds great. We don’t normally take copies of material but if you would ever consider donating the original we’d be delighted to accept it – we could always scan it and let you have a copy. I’ll completely understand, though, if you want to hold onto it – there must be plenty of happy memories attached to it!

    Best wishes.


  14. robert duff says:

    Served my apprentiship at Hawthorn Leslies from 167 to 1972
    Still have my original app. book stamped
    Apprentiship as a Painter and I am looking for anyone who was around at that time

  15. Alan Hayward says:

    Thanks for getting in touch. We dosn’t seem to hold apprenticeship registers for the shipyard, which is a real shame. I live in hope that they’ve survived somewhere and will turn up one day.

    By a happy coincidence I’ve just written a blog relating to Hawthorn Leslie, which should go live in a few days time. I’ll send you the link when it does.

    Best wishes,


  16. Alan Hayward says:

    Dear Robert,

    Just in case it’s of interest here a link to a set of images that Tyne & Wear Archives has released on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/twm_news/sets/72157635252478073/. It relates to the Hawthorn Leslie shipyard at Hebburn so maybe it will stir some happy memories.

    Best wishes,


  17. Tim Kae says:

    According to my family research to date, my paternal grandfather, Dominick O’Kane/Kane/Cain (b. Gateshead, 1866), worked at A. Leslie & Co. shipyard, first as a rivet boy from ca. 1877, then as an apprentice from about 1880 until about 1883/5. Dominick’s father, Bernard/Barney (b. ca 1828, Co. Derry, Ireland), and brother, Neil/Neal (b. ca. 1852, Co. Derry), also both worked at Leslie. Is it possible for any of your staff to review these or related documents for any record of the family?

    Tim Kane, Seattle, Washington, USA

  18. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for your message about your family’s ties to Leslie’s shipyard at Hebburn. I’m afraid that we don’t have any personnel records for the shipyard covering the period that you’re interested in. It’s possible that they haven’t survived but as an optimist I hope that they do and will one day find their way to the Archives.

    Best wishes,


  19. Barbara Sweeting says:

    My great grandfather John Hogg b,1848 worked at Hawthorn Leslies as did both his sons, William [Billy Hogg footballer, who played for Sunderland and Glasgow Rangers and was capped 3 times for England] and John[Jack, also played football for Southampton, Sheffield United, West Stanley among others]. Footballers had day jobs too in those days! My great grandfather actually died at work and there was an inquest in 1912. I will be interested to see any records when I am able to travel up to the museum, Barbara

  20. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Barbara,

    Thank you for your message. It sounds like you’ve got a very interesting family history. You’re very welcome to visit us to examine our Hawthorn Leslie records and you can find details of our location and opening times on our website http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/tyne-and-wear-archives/visiting-us.html.

    I’m afraid that we have relatively few personnel records for the firm. You can see a list of these and the other Hawthorn Leslie administrative records by searching our online catalogue http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/tyne-and-wear-archives/catalogue-amp-user-guides/catalogue.html entering DS.HL/2 in the RefNo field. I really hope you do get a chance to visit the Archives.

    Best wishes,


  21. Hi again Alan, if any of your readers are interested, Hawthorn Leslie”s reunion is on the 3rd October at the Heaton Meadowfield club at 7pm These are nearly all from the St.Peters works, Malcolm Hodgson

  22. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Malcolm,

    Thanks for letting me know – I’ll pass the news on to any former employees I come across. If you could mention the Archives at the reunion that would be great. We’re open to the public Tuesday to Friday and it would be great to get more people looking through the Hawthorn Leslie records. It’s a great collection.

    Best wishes,


    • Ann Scrivens formerly Laws says:

      Very interesting web site – I served my 4 year apprenticeship as a Tracer at Hawthorn Leslie (Engs.) St. Peters Works from 1957-1961. After family commitments, enlisted again from 1970-1978 being the last of the original apprentices left in the firm before amalgamation and ended up in the Drawing Office. Still have a few items of my work on the original linen.

      • Alan Hayward says:

        Hi Ann,

        Many thanks for getting in touch. I’m glad that you like our website. The Archives holds quite a few Hawthorn Leslie records so if you ever feel like taking a trip down memory lane do pop along. You can find details of our location and opening times here http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/tyne-and-wear-archives/visiting-us.html.

        Best wishes,


        • MOIRA DAVIS says:

          Hi, just read your post…i worked downstairs in the Accounts office from 1955 – 1961, my Uncle John Kasher also was an accountant in our office..Stew Kirkup..Billy Hawkins..Wynne Garvey..Mary McMullen..Betty and Gwen and Don in the cashiers do you remember any of them ? I was going out with Alan Graham from 1958-1961 when i left to go to George Angus along Walker Road…not a good move !!! I heard that he Emigrated to Canada in the late sixties…My Dad also worked in the Pattern Shop from late 1930 until they closed and merged with North Eastern Marine in Wallsend, lots of Happy Memories !!!!

  23. Hi again Alan, many thanks for dropping off the Hawthorn Leslie information sheets, I will take them on Thursday to let all there have a look. cheers for now Malcolm

  24. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Malcolm,

    You’re very welcome. I hope the reunion goes well.

    Best wishes,


  25. Hi,Alan the reunion went well although the numbers were down a bit. An old colleague of mine has 2 signs that were outside the gatehouse and I asked if he would let you have them, he says he will think about it,another said he had some pictures of the factory and he would try and make time to let you have a look at them cheers Malcolm

    • David John Hawkins says:

      I am very interested in attending the reunion and find out if there was a list of attendees from last year. I have just lost a good friend from the St Peters works on Saturday and going to his funeral next week.

      I was one the of last to leave St Peters and still have fond memories
      of my time there.

      Kind Regards
      David Hawkins

  26. Hi Alan,as I have only been going to the Hawthorn reunion for the last 2 years I do not have the email address of the organiser,but a colleague of mine says he can see no problem with you attending the reunion. It is being held on the 1st Thursday in October 2014 at the Meadowfield club in Heaton, just behind the Chillingham pub. I will get in touch nearer the date. by for now Malcolm

    • Kristin Abbott says:

      Hi Malcolm,

      I am not sure if you can help but I would like to get in contact with some ex-shipbuilders. Iam a professional dancer and choreographer based in Newcastle. Currently, I am working on a dance project in collaboration with the visual artist Alexander Millar. His paintings depict industrial scenes of shipyards and images of the working men of the North East. I am eager to get in touch with some ex-shipbuilders who worked in the shipyards here in Newcastle for this project.

      I wondered if you had any contact from ex-shipbuiders and if you could put me in touch with any of them. Ideally, I would like to get in touch with them as soon as possible so I can start work on this project.

      I would like to record their stories of working in the shipyards and also get them physically involved in the dance project.

      Any help would be much appreciated.

      Kristin Abbott

      • Alan Hayward says:

        Hi Kristin,

        I saw your message to Malcolm about your interesting project. I’ll try to circulate your message to a few contacts and if any are interested I’m sure they’ll contact you directly.

        Best wishes,


      • Hi Kristin,sorry about the delay,but the only ex-shipyard worker I know is not on the internet and is almost 83years of age.I will pass on your request when he returns from holiday.I know he worked at Walker Naval Yard,Wigham Richardson and Swan Hunters. I doubt if he will get involved in the dance project,but I will pass on your message. Bye for now Malcolm

  27. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Malcolm,

    Thank you very much for the invite. I’ll do my best to make it next year with a few items from the Hawthorn Leslie collection.

    Best wishes,


  28. Peter Montague-Fuller says:

    Hi Andrew
    Is there a J T Nicolson (born 1860) as one of the earliest apprentices at R&W Hawthorn? He was my great grandfather and ended up as the professor for engineering at Manchester University (the technical school).
    Many thanks

  29. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Peter,

    I’m afraid that owing to restrictions on staff time we can’t search the records we hold free of charge. I’ll contact you separately to explain the options.

    Best wishes,


  30. John G. Whitehead says:

    I served my apprenticeship at St Peters works 1945-1950 The names of my group intake were as follows-
    Bill Tulip
    Jack Flett
    John Lidell
    Jack Senior
    Bill Laws
    Norman Gibson
    Others I knew well but not in my group were
    as follows- Martin Knowles , Walter Brown, George Sams, Jim Bell, Brian Bambra, Peter Mavin. I wander how many are still with us after so many years!

    • Pauline (Arkle) Carr says:

      I remember Bill Tulip & Martin Knowles were friends of my brother Alf Thompson. Also John Wall & Bob Holmes. My brother joined the Merchant Navy and emigrated to British Columbia. He died in 1998. My father was Bill Arkle on the marking-off table. My cousin Fred McCourt was a draughtsman. I worked in the Correspondence Office in 1958.
      We all worked at the St. Peter’s Works. I remember Sports Days and Work Dances. I have been living in British Columbia Canada since 1970.
      Pauline Carr. (nee Arkle).

      • Alan Hayward says:

        Hi Pauline,

        Thanks for your comment. I hope your message attracts lots of responses from other former employees at the St Peter’s Works.

        Best wishes,


        • Pauline (Arkle) Carr says:

          Hi Alan, My father John William Arkle did paintings of the machine shops in Hawthorn Leslie (Engineers) Ltd. I could email a copy. He was a marker-off in 5 Shop. I had his story published in “Remember When” Issue 79 May 11/2010. There are numerous articles published in the “Evening Chronicle’ about him, still in the archives.
          Best wishes,
          Pauline Carr.

          • Alan Hayward says:

            Hi Pauline,

            I’d be delighted to see a copy of your father’s paintings. If you’re happy to e-mail a copy for my attention to info@twarchives.org.uk that would be great.

            Best wishes,


      • Stewart Adamson says:

        Hi Pauline
        I vaguely remember your name. I was an Office Boy in the Works Office from 1954 – 55 and remember Mr Jackson running the office. At one stage I worked with his son, Phil.
        I particularly recall Margaret Malloch; do you know what became of her as she was good friend during my time in the Works Office.
        Also, do you remember Andy Imrie?
        I note that you live in BC; I worked in New Westminster in the late 1970s and have many happy memories of God’s own Country and my Skiing trips to Whistler and Grouse!!

        Regards Stewart

    • Anthony Penner says:

      I was Norman Gibsons apprentice in the gauge box in 1979
      Peter Mavin was quality manager

  31. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for your message. Did you notice in the earlier comments that there’s an annual reunion of former employees of St Peters Works? I’m sure that they would make you welcome if you were able to attend.

    Best wishes,


  32. Kristin Abbott says:

    Dear Alan,

    I am not sure if you can help but I would like to get in contact with some ex-shipbuilders. Iam a professional dancer and choreographer based in Newcastle. Currently, I am working on a dance project in collaboration with the visual artist Alexander Millar. His paintings depict industrial scenes of shipyards and images of the working men of the North East. I am eager to get in touch with some ex-shipbuilders who worked in the shipyards here in Newcastle for this project.

    I wondered if you had any contact from ex-shipbuiders and if you could put me in touch with any of them.

    I would like to record their stories of working in the shipyards and also get them physically involved in the dance project.

    Any help would be much appreciated.


  33. Anthony Penner says:

    I served my time at Hawthorns from 1977 -81. I was in the gauge box when Norman Gibson was foreman and peter Mavin was manager, then 8WE erecting shop. Billy Graham was manager and Jimmy McLean was foreman, Happy days!!!

    • Colin Graham says:

      Hi Anthony I am Billy Grahams son and we are going through a few things of my Dads and have come across many photos of the ship engines made while my Dad was at Hawthorns and pictures which hung on his office wall of the whole st Peters yard and I think the original blue print of the erection of the buildings would love to share them with people it would mean something too. I Heard he was nicknamed the Sheriff !!!!!!

      • Alan Hayward says:

        Hi Colin,

        Thanks for your comment. It’s great that the blog has helped to bring people interested in St Peters Works together.

        Have you considered donating your Dad’s photographs to the Archives? If that’s something you’d consider then I’d be delighted to take a look. Donating them to a record office like Tyne & Wear Archives is a great way of preserving them and also sharing them with a much wider audience. If you’d like to discuss this privately you can always contact me by sending an e-mail to info@twarchives.org.uk.

        Best wishes,


      • Tony Penner says:

        You sent me that photo of Bills retirement after I met you at South Killinholme Power Station

  34. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Anthony,

    Thanks for your comments. It’s great that you have such happy memories of life at Hawthorn Leslie. We have a lot of records of the firm and if you ever fancy a trip down memory lane please do pop in. You can find details of our location and opening times on our website http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/tyne-and-wear-archives/visiting-us.html.

    Best wishes,


  35. Hi,Alan the Hawthorn Leslie re-union is in the meadowfield club at 7-30 on October 2nd. Hope you can make it

  36. Hi Alan,many thanks for the pictures of Hawthorn”s they brought back a few memories. The reunion went well but numbers were down,due to holidays and those who have passed away. Malcolm

  37. Ken Covell says:

    message for David Hawkins, I’m guessing thats Davy Hawkins, hope so, trust you are well and life has been good to you and your family. I also have fond memories of Hawthorns, crack with the lads was great, particularly the Erecting Shop. My apprenticeship (Indenture) was @ 72-76, left for a couple of years then came back, did the Clarke Hawthorns bit then finally left in 86.

  38. moira Davis {Thackray] says:

    Message for Colin Graham, your dad Billy,was he in the Pattern Shop, at HAWTHORN LESLIE ST PETERS WORKS, if so, he was an apprentice to my dad {Patternmaker} Norman Thackray, also his brother Alan was also my dad,s Apprentice,later moving into the drawing office after his apprenticeship ended at 21years of age.I started work in the Accounts office in 1955 and my uncle John Kasher was also in the Accounts office.The last reunion i attended your dad told me the sad news that Alan had died in Canada,he and i had been very close in the late 50,s so it was sad to hear that news.

    • Pauline (Arkle) Carr says:

      Hi Moira, I don’t know if you will remember me. I worked in the correspondence office in 1958.I have a photo of you & I with Laurie,Joe,Pat,June & Jean. I have been living in British Columbia,Canada for nearly 45 years! Did you keep in touch with any of the girls?
      Best wishes, Pauline (Arkle) Carr.

      • moira margaret davis says:

        Hi Pauline,how nice to hear from you,you are so lucky to be living in Canada,i keep in touch with Margaret West who was in the Typing Pool,we still send Xmas Cards, she is living in Switzerland,has been since she got married to the Sulzer Engineer. We are now living in Leeds to be close to our son and his wife,who are both Teachers in this area,thanks for getting in touch,would love to see the photo, best wishes Moira x

      • colin camp says:

        I worked with a Billy in the pattern shop at st peters works byker while I served my apprenticeship as a plater from 1979 1983 he was a really nice man he worked with his best friend.

    • winston norton says:

      I remember Norman, Billy a checker and Alan a draughtsman. I was a apprentice in the pattern shop started 1957 then the drawing office.

      Winston Norton

    • Anthony Penner says:

      No Colin Graham’s father was manager of the erecting shop.

  39. malcolm hodgson says:

    Hi Alan,the Hawthorn Leslie reunion is on Thursday 8th October at the Meadowfield club 7pm it would be nice if you could make it and bring a few of the mementos along with you. Hope you can make it. cheers Malcolm

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Hi Malcolm,

      I’ve just spotted your message. Our system used to automatically send me details of incoming blog comments but this seems to have stopped. I’m very sorry that I can’t make it this year but still hope to come along one year with a few historical items.

      All the best,


  40. Harry Oliver says:

    My Mother tells me that my grandfather who’s name was Isaac Bulmer living at Tantobie Co Durham was an apprentice droughtsman at Hawthorne Leslie at Newcastle upon Tyne .Please can anyone tell me how I can found out anything about his time at the company.
    Harry Oliver

  41. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Harry,

    Thanks for getting in touch. If your grandfather served his apprenticeship at the firm’s marine engineering works at St Peter’s, Newcastle upon Tyne between 1877 and 1978 then he should be listed in the apprenticeship registers mentioned in my blog. You’re very welcome to come and visit the Archives to search through them and details of our location and opening times are given on website https://twarchives.org.uk/visit-us.

    If visiting us isn’t practical then we could always search the records for you through our paid research service. You can find further details of that service at https://twmuseums.org.uk/collections/research.

    Best wishes,


  42. Lewis McDonald says:

    Hi I served my apprenticeship in swan hunters ship repair yard do you know where I can get my records from. It was 1973 to 1977

  43. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for getting in touch. The Archives does hold a lot of Swan Hunter records, although only a small quantity of these relate to employees – they mostly relate to the ships. You can see a list of the personnel records we hold by searching our online catalogue https://twarchives.org.uk/collection/catalogue entering DS.SWH/2 in the Refno field. If you find anything of interest in there, which you would like to follow-up please get in touch by sending an e-mail to archives@twmuseums.org.uk.

    If you do find something of interest, access to the records is likely to be restricted under the Data Protection Act 1998. However, we could search through the records for you using our paid research service https://twmuseums.org.uk/collections/research. I hope this is helpful.

    Best wishes,


  44. Tim Kane says:

    Sirs — My grandfather, Dominick Kane (aka: O’Kane/Cain) was born in Gateshead in 1866. His father was Bernard “Barney” Kane. According to his obituary in 1944, from about 1871 to 1882 worked as a rivet boy, then apprentice, then boilermaker at A. Leslie & Co. Shipyard in Hebburn, along with his dad and older brother, Neal/Neil, where they were laborers. I would greatly appreciate if you could look at these registers and see if you can find any record of Dominick or the family members. If so, I would greatly appreciate copies of all relevant pages and title page(s), and will happily reimburse any duplication and postage costs. Thank you very much.

  45. Alan Hayward says:

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for getting in touch.

    I’m afraid that the registers mentioned in the blog just relate to the marine engineering works at St Peter’s, Newcastle and don’t cover the Hebburn shipyard. I don’t know of any surviving apprenticeship registers for the shipyard but will certainly get in touch if any turn up in the future.

    Best wishes,


  46. Howard Bell says:

    of MESSRS, R & W Hawthorn Leslie & Co Ld
    Engineers Newcastle-on-Tyne
    Works Manager
    On attaining his Jubilee in the Employ of the Firm
    15th Augt 1900

  47. Howard Bell says:

    The notice prior to this is the wording on a brass plate on a old wooden boxed cutlery set presented to the Manager or the day in 1900, The cutlery is in great condition, Hardly used even if was ever used, it looks like it has 12 place setting plus everything to carve and serv. It belonged to my Father-in-law who has now passed away, so I am looking for a new home for this piece of history, but I don’t know were to start. Ant idea’s ?

    • Alan Hayward says:

      Hi Howard,

      Many thanks for getting in touch.

      I’m afraid that the Archives couldn’t accept the cutlery set because it’s outside our collecting remit. However, I’ll draw your messages to the attention to one of my colleagues at the Discovery Museum and I’m sure that he’ll get back to you about it soon – it sounds like a very nice item.

      Best wishes,


  48. Morris Graham says:

    Hi there

    Maybe you can’t help me, but my grandfather Gilbert “Skip” Graham worked as a plumber at Hawthorn Leslie for 50 years until he retired in about 1980. I understand he was known as Skip as he was the captain of the football team. Even my grandmother called him Skip all his life. I wonder, is there any record of my grandfather?

    Yours in anticipation

    Morris Graham

    • Morris Graham says:

      Sorry. My mother has just corrected me. Skip retired in about 1973.



      • Alan Hayward says:

        Hi Morris,

        Thanks for your messages about your grandfather.

        I’m afraid that relatively few personnel records survive for many of the shipyards and engineering works in Tyne & Wear. That’s why the discovery of apprenticeship registers for St Peter’s Works was so exciting. Sadly, I’m not aware of any records relating to the Hawthorn Leslie shipyard that might mention your grandfather. I’ll certainly get in touch, though, if I come across any.

        Best wishes,


  49. Andrew Reed says:

    My father was an apprentice at Hawthorn Leslie. I have his original signed Articles of Apprenticeship dated July 1, 1924 along with comments added at the successful completion of the apprenticeship. It is noted that in 1924 and 1925, he received 1st Prize and Scholarship for the Browne Memorial as well as Good Conduct Money.

    Is this something the museum would be interested in?

    Best regards

    Andrew Reed

  50. Doreen Perri says:

    Is there any way to trace which Shipbuilding Company in the Newcastle upon Tyne area provided the manpower for the Floating Cranes used in the Tyne during the Second WW please. I know that my late Father, Thomas William WELCH was an Electrician and worked for one of the Companies. Sadly I don’t know which one! My late Mum always said he worked “at Heppron Shipyards”. However, we all know there is no such place as Heppron – maybe, perhaps, she mean Hebburn?? Any idea on the Floating Docks? Please. I know it was dangerous work going out into the sea to sort the beleaguered ships struck by mines, and they floated out there at night in the dark! Thanks (I am in Canada and cannot visit the Archives personally).

  51. Pauline Carr says:

    Hi Stewart, I don’t remember you or Margaret but I remember Mr.Alan Bell would be your boss. I do remember Andy Imrie. He was an electrician who used to fix the bells.I worked for Mr.Jackson. Did you know John Lough & Alan Walker?
    I live in Coquitlam on top of a mountain in beautiful British Columbia.
    Regards, Pauline.

  52. Stewart Adamson says:

    Hi Pauline

    I do recall a Alan Walker, although I cannot remember in what context.

    I did work under Alan Bell but more directly with George Blechynden, Peter Mavin, Ben Crowdy and John Bulman. Other than Ben Crowdy who is still alive, and still in Newcastle, the others sadly died some time ago.

    I was initally an office boy in the Works Office but later in my apprenticeship I earned a place in the Drawing Office and opted to work in the Works Office. I left in 1961 at the ripe age of 22yrs to study at Durham University and thereafter followed a career initially in Warshipbuilding with Vosper thornycroft on the south coast and thereafter in the Offshore Oil Industry which took me to many places, including beautiful British Columbia.

    I so envy you living in BC!



  53. Pauline (Arkle) Carr says:

    Hi Stewart, thank you for your reply. I was in the correspondence office 1958-60 and left to work for solicitors in Newcastle. Mr.Jackson had encouraged me to take night school courses and when I passed exams he got a bonus for me the same as the apprentices.
    My father was Bill Arkle a marker-off and my brother & cousin both served apprenticeships. Hawthorn’s shaped our lives as my brother joined the Merchant Navy and came to Canada. My husband & I followed.
    You mentioned Durham University. My father studied art at King’s College and obtained a scholarship. He worked as an engineer & went to King’s evenings or days depending on his work shifts. I have drawings he did of the Machine Shop etc.
    Regards, Pauline.

  54. Martyn Ralph says:


    I came across this website and was very interested in the record of apprentices.
    I was seconded to the St Peter’s site in 1970, by my company, BP Tanker Company as part of my cadetship. Although I was treated like an in-house apprentice, I am doubtful my name will be on the record. I had an amazing time working on the erection of a very large Doxford engine and an even bigger Sulzer.

    I remember one of my fellow apprentices at the time being Les Temple and another with the surname Leslie. This was a very useful and enjoyable part of my career. I left BP Tanker Company and went to Sussex University, ending up as a Brewery Designer.

    Other interesting memories – getting the ferry to Wallsend or the Boneyard from Hebburn and the launch of the Esso Hibernia – “Get Carter” brings it all back.

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