John Laing (have not located an image of him) had a son named David, who had a short life indeed (c.1775-1796). In or about 1776, John was apprenticed at the North Sands yard of Mr. Wright, then the principal shipbuilder on North Sands. The U-55 crew then went below and closed the hatch and the boat got underway on the surface.
Philip had two daughters (May & Anne) who are not relevant to this Sunderland shipbuilding story, & also a son James who is most relevant, (Jan. In or about 1792, John went into business for himself at North Sands. A year later, John & his brother Philip, joined forces, a partnership which survived through 1818. 'Zyldijk'), 3 (Furness Withy), 4 (4 images Zijldijk & a plan), 5 (Miramar, link, you now must be registered to access). Werner sailed about two miles then submerged the U-55 with the forty-one survivors still on the casing of the boat. the submarine dived and threw everybody in the water without any means of saving themselves, as the majority of them had had their lifebelts taken off them." Having taken their lifebelts and destroyed their lifeboats he now decided to just drown the entire crew, a clear act of cruelty and outright willful murder, and this was not the first time he had done this.
During WW1, the yard built 18 vessels, of combined 109,924 tons. 15, 1917, King George V & Queen Mary visited the 'Sir James Laing & Sons' shipyard, to support the yard's shipbuilding efforts during World War I. There are a number of WWW references to the ship being at Madras & Calcutta in those years & a reference to its bringing 125 personnel from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to South Africa to serve in the Boer War. there really is no meaningful WWW data re the vessel. Engaged on the Cape Town, Durban (Natal), Colombo & Calcutta service. Castriotti (or Castrioti), of Piraeus, Greece, & (3 says 1905) renamed Chariclia.
Some famous images of the visit resulted, particularly one of the King bending down to speak with a very young rivet heater or paintpot lad - of about 8 years old - beside a furnace similar to that visible in the 'Joseph L. I find the data re the two 1917 'rivet heater' images to be confusing. One of the 'rivet heaters' was John Cassidy, I believe, but which of the 2 images shows him? but read on) image, of the 'Robert Thompson & Sons Limited' shipyard in the foreground & of the 'Sir James Laing & Sons Limited' shipyard across the river with the Ayres Quay area behind it. 4, 1890, it would appear - owing to an accident, the vessel was suddenly stopped in her course before getting clear of the 'ways'. 6, 1902, Captain Grimm in command, the vessel was wrecked at Punta Guionos, Costa Rica, while en route from Puget Sound, Washington, U. I read however that the vessel was generally on charter to the Natal Emigration Department to carry Indian labourers, at 6 a head, to work in the sugar plantations of Natal & Transvaal. The vessel was sold, in 1898, to 'Paul & Shellshear', also of London. In 1907, it was again sold to 'Domestini, Oeconomou & Co.', also of Piraeus, & in 1912 renamed Leonidas.
The anecdote puts the early shipbuilder history into some perspective, I truly think. It comes however from the 1929 edition of 'Port of Sunderland', published by the River Wear Commissioners. Built for 'Bullard King & Company, Limited' (Natal Direct Line), of London. Engaged on London to Durban, South Africa, service (& beyond, to Delagoa Bay & Beira in Mozambique). Presumably named after Umtata (now Mthathta), in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, which was the capital of the Transkei, & is now noted for its Nelson Mandela Museum (Nelson Mandela (1918/2013) was born & lived in retirement nearby - at Qunu). The idea that Germans out of sheer devilry pretended to save the men, only in order to let them perish, could not possibly occur to German sailors." In Holland the press mocked the Germans by publishing a pastoral letter which was read at Protestant churches in Germany, including the cathedral attended by the Kaiser.
I was interested to read (page #585, here, from that 1852 volume not now available for download) that John & Philip Laing 'were the first to introduce the novelty of a floating dock on our river. I read also that James Laing was the very first Sunderland shipbuilder to build in iron. The image appears here thanks to Tony Frost, who advises me that 'Laings' had in their history two dry docks, one of which (visible in the image) was opened on Jul. Per 1 [British India, Orissa, (2)], 2 (Miramar, link, you now must be registered to access). The letter was published next to the story about what happened to the men of the Belgium Prince.
'Robert Thompson', went out of business in 1930, so the image may date, in fact, from even earlier. Geoff Bethell, of New Zealand, advises that he has enlarged the image particularly in the centre top area where a bridge is faintly visible. Built for 'Hamburg-Calcutta-Linie', of Hamburg, Germany, (A. The vessel must have been later transferred or sold to 'Hamburg Pacific Dampfschiff Linie' (also A. Bad weather was encountered - & the vessel approached the 'One and a Half Degree Channel' thru the Maldives islands late & at night. on May 15, 1903, the ship, 76 miles off her course due to ocean currents, ran aground at Suvadiva Atoll, Maldive Islands.
Newcastle Libraries have kindly provided, on 'Flickr', a large series of images mainly Newcastle related. And can order a print via that page should you so wish. Activity increased during WW2, a period when it became of paramount importance that the WW2 shipping losses be replaced. (Efford) Beadon (1880/1916), grandfather of Eve Fisher (Clive's wife), was captain of Northerhay, at dates unknown, but probably to the time when the vessel was sold in 1909 to Italian owners. Built for 'Netherlands India Steam Navigation Company (Limited)', (i.e. I can find no WWW references to most of those matters, which is strange for a very late sailing ship, said to have indeed been the last sailing ship owned on the U. 100 Indians walked to the island through the surf at low tide - the Maldivians did agree to ferry the other 375 Indians ashore. Built for William Milburn & Co., of London, 'Milburn Line'. On May 24, 1892, while on her second voyage to Australia & en route from London to Sydney via the Cape of Good Hope with general cargo, the vessel ran aground on a reef & sank off the island of St. Salvage efforts failed & the vessel was declared a total loss. ('Furness') purchased the Rotterdam to Baltimore service & 7 of Neptune's vessels. Neptune became managed by Bolam and Swinhoe, of Newcastle, (maybe from 1904) & in 1910 Neptune was purchased by Furness.
Sunderland came under aerial attack by the Luftwaffe - four men killed in one air raid on the 'Laing' yard in 1940. 27, 1909, the vessel was sold for 2,500 to Tomaso Gazzolo, of Genoa, Italy, who may however be the manager rather than the owner (have seen references to 'Tomaso Gazzolo Fu A', with the 'A' likely meaning Angelo, managers, of Nervi, Genoa), & renamed Nostra Signora Assunta. 31, 1916, the vessel, en route from Genoa to Norfolk, Virginia, U. A., in ballast, was sunk by gunfire, by U-34, Kapitnleutnant Claus Rcker in command. He left the ship, indeed left sailing ships, to become Captain of Lorca, a steam vessel, & lost his life when that vessel was torpedoed by U-49, 200 miles W. 'Nederlandsch Indische Stoomvaart (or Stoomboot) Maatschappij') ('Netherlands'), of Batavia, (today Jakarta, Indonesia). long, facilities for 20 passengers in 1st or 2nd class. 20, 1916, (defensively armed), by U-39, eight miles NW by N of Cap Corbelin, Algeria. The location being isolated, the decision was made to send a 26 ft. Per 1 (Milburn Line), 2 (6th item Port Douglas), 3 (Port Douglas), 4 (Kaikoura), 5 (underwriter ref.), 6 (Miramar, link, you now must be registered to access). The cargo however is said to have been recovered by the enterprising locals. Per 1 (Neptune Steam Navigation, Venango), 2 (New York Times 1894 'snippet', 50% down), 3 (French data, Wilfred), 4 (Compagnie Gnrale Transatlantique, Wilfred), 5 (Miramar, link, you now must be registered to access). The vessel is not however included in the Furness fleet list here.
Rather to permit to a modern reader some understanding of the reality of the early days of Sunderland shipbuilding. Per 1, 2 & 3 (data), 4 (Miramar, link, you now must be registered to access). 131.4 metres long perpendicular to perpendicular, speed of 17 knots, signal letters HQSL, with capacity for 180 passengers. And that the vessel was broken up at Iquique, Chile, in 1926. di Navigazione Corrado', of Genoa, Italy, & renamed Laura Corrado. 30, 1941, the vessel was attacked by torpedo & gunfire by HMS Rorqual (N74), a Royal Navy Grampus class (a mine-laying class) submarine (sometimes referred to as Porpoise class). The third survivor was an American, 2nd Cook William Snell of Jacksonville Florida, he survived by hiding his lifebelt under his clothes.
The anecdote comes from a paper, written I think in the 1970s, by James A. Owned by 'Toyo Kisen Kabushiki Kaisha', (or maybe just 'Toyo Kisen Kaisha') of Tokyo, Japan. Per 2, the vessel was abandoned near Point Honda off the California coast on May 28, 1933 (Point Honda is N. There are no Lloyd's Register references to a vessel named Renaico at 'plimsollshipdata.org'. After the U-55 went under he also headed for the only place he could, the Belgian Prince. Armed British four masted steamer, 4,800 tons, leaking out of ballast tanks. 1: Dampfer mit Sprengpatrone versenkt; vor Foxglove bis 9 h vm getaucht.(Steamer sunk with scuttling charges, dove at 9 a.m.
Geoff indicates that he cannot spot any indication of another bridge behind the railway bridge. Per 1 (Miramar, link, you now must be registered to access). Gayner, of Sunderland, who I now see still owned the vessel in 1908/09 per Lloyd's Register ('LR'). 1910, the vessel was dismasted off La Plata, Argentina, & was towed in that condition into Pernambuco, now Recife, Brazil, ii) that in Mar. Kirsten), of Hamburg, since the vessel was sold by them, in 1898, to 'Deutsche Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft Kosmos' (DDG Kosmos), also of Hamburg. The nearest island was 2 miles distant & at dawn a scouting party went to the island & sought help from 4 Maldivians gathering coconuts. It also was engaged, however, in other areas, including the carriage of cotton & grain from New Orleans, likely to Manchester.