The period from the 1950's to the early 1970's was a boom time for the Port of Workington with the local steelworks struggling to keep up with demand for its products. This required a vast amont of iron ore which was brought into the port by the bulk carriers from places like Scandanavia, South Africa and Spain. The Norweigian company Sydvaranger had three ships running a regular shuttle service from the mines in Kirkenes to Workington. Varangmalm
The "Solway" (232 tons) formerly "Empire Ann" was built in 1943 for Townsend Ferries and was sold to United Steel Companies in 1948. She was sold on in 1975, with the collapse of the steel making industry, and eventually scrapped at Fleetwood in 1977 by Meyer, Newman & Co. Ltd.
She was laid up for a while so it was decided to use the tug crew, who were also in a quiet spell, to man her up so that they could use both hoppers with the dredger. Having not been used for sometime the mate told me to take an oil can and oil everything that was rusty, which i did. So off we went to collect our first load to dump a few miles out into the Solway Firth on the waste grounds. The release mechanism was activated and the doors in the bottom of the hold opened and the silt dropped out, so far so good. A large metal disc then had to be tightened against another one which then provided the grip to lift the doors back up, ...well that was the plan, but unfortunately an inexperienced hand in these matters had oiled the friction plates..because they were rusty! It was the mates fault entirely I reckon! but it only took a couple of hours to clean the oil off and everything was fine.
We, on the Solway, went into Cammel Lairds, Monks Ferry No 1 drydock for several days and while work got under way, the mate and myself spent many happy hours walking around the docks in Birkenhead looking at at the scores of ships from all over the world loading and unloading.
A sad view of the tug Solway towing Oldside on her final journey to the scrapyard in 1977. She was broken up at Barrow in Furness.
"Arabella" assisted by tug "Solway" and a Clyde Shipping Co tug on the bow.
Photographed in December 1970 is Houlder Bros. "Oregis" aground in the entrance channel while attempting to dock. This pic made the front page of the local paper at the time, reinforcing the old saying.."always take your camera with you!"
Another Houlder Bros. vessel is "Orelia" seen docking in 1969