Public artwork to honour Sunderland's female shipyard workers

Plans are in place to create a permanent tribute to the women who stepped into the breach to keep Sunderland's shipyards working in the war years.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 31st August 2018, 9:37 am
Updated Friday, 31st August 2018, 9:41 am

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Women scrapers at a Sunderland shipyard in July 1941
Women scrapers at a Sunderland shipyard in July 1941

A spot has been earmarked on the Vaux site, which is undergoing construction into leisure and retail space, for the artwork which will remember the 700 women who were employed in the yards at the height of WWII.

The creation of a permanent reminder to the women who played a pivotal role in Wearside’s war effort has long been a passion of city author Amanda Revell Walton who writes under the pseudonym Nancy Revell.

Amanda Revel Walton who writes as Nancy Walton with some of the Shipyard Girls series

Her research into the history of the women and their backbreaking efforts in the shipyards inspired her hugely successful fictional series of books, The Shipyard Girls, which have reached the Sunday Times Bestsellers list.

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After reading the publicity surrounding the novels, in which Amanda has proposed a memorial, Suzanne Brown from women’s group Soroptimist International Sunderland got in contact to say they would like to fund the artwork. After consultation with Vaux site developers Siglion, plans are in the pipeline to unveil the piece next year.

Amanda, who lives in Roker, said: “It’s wonderful that there will be an artwork looking over the River Wear, which will be a reflective space, to honour these women. I’ve been involved in the discussions with the Soroptimists and Siglion and we’re at the stage now where they’re consulting with young people from Sunderland schools and colleges about ideas. The next stage is to commission an artist who will design the piece.”

The fifth book in The Shipyard Girls series, Victory for the Shipyard Girls, will be released on September 6.

Victory for the Shipyard Girls is released on September 6, priced £6.99

Amanda said: “This book moves us on six months from the last instalment to 1942. As always with the books, behind the fictional story is the history of what happened in Sunderland at that time, such as air raids. With this book we really delve into the psyche and motivation of the characters and this squad of women who worked as welders at Thompsons.”

Speaking about the popularity of the books, she said: “I have to pinch myself sometimes. I think I’m lucky in the fact that a lot of the elements appeal to people, because there’s the historical aspect, but also the eclectic mix of women.”

•Amanda will be holding a book signing at Waterstones in The Bridges from noon to 2pm on Saturday, September 8.

•Victory for the Shipyard Girls by Nancy Revell is published on September 6, on Arrow Paperback Original, priced £6.99. Also available as an eBook.