New book honours the ‘forgotten’ female workers in Sunderland’s shipyards

Amanda Revell Walton who writes as Nancy Walton with all the Shipyard Girls series
Amanda Revell Walton who writes as Nancy Walton with all the Shipyard Girls series
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An author has released her fourth novel in a best-selling series which honours the women who stepped into the breach to keep Wearside’s shipyards working during the war.

Inspired by the 700 women who were employed in the yards at the height of WWII, Amanda Revell Walton set about creating her Shipyard Girls series which has captured the imaginations of readers.

Amanda Revell Walton

Amanda Revell Walton

Previous instalments have become bestsellers at Waterstones in Sunderland, as well as reaching the top 20 in the Sunday Times Bestsellers list.

Amanda, who writes under the pseudonym Nancy Revell, hopes the latest volume, Shipyard Girls in Love, which is released this week, will prove equally as popular.

The author, who pens her novels at her home in Roker, said: “This book picks up six months after we left the characters in the early 1940s and I like to think that with each book the readers get to know each character more.”

The books have proved so popular that Amanda has signed an eight-book deal for the series, which shines a light on an oft-forgotten group of women who played a vital role in the war effort.

An extract from the Sunderland Echo on November 10, 1942

An extract from the Sunderland Echo on November 10, 1942

Amanda, whose own family worked as platers in Sunderland’s once world-famous shipyards, said: “I was always adamant that the story be set in Sunderland and I think the publisher was intrigued by the idea of these women who worked in a predominantly male role, who not many people know about.”

Though the characters are fictional, the shipyards and places they inhabit, as well as the bombings they face, are based on fact.

As well as enlisting the help of Sunderland Antiquarian Society, Amanda, a former journalist, delves deep into the Echo archives during her research of the era.

She said: “The Echo archives have been invaluable and I always feature a character reading the Sunderland Echo in the books. Funnily enough, I set about creating these characters and have come across real women whose lives are similar and some of their stories you couldn’t even make up, it’s become a case of fiction mirroring real life.”

Women at work in the shipyards

Women at work in the shipyards

One of the real life women mentioned in the historical notes of the book is welder Florence Collard, who worked at Bartrams during the war, who Amanda discovered in the Echo archives. Florence was bombed out of her home in Portsmouth, came back to her hometown (Sunderland) and was then bombed out of her home here - and still went to work that afternoon.

•Shipyard Girls in Love is available on Arrow Paperback Original, £6.99, as well as on eBook. Amanda will be signing copies at Waterstones in the Bridges of Saturday, March 24, between noon and 2pm. Signed copies will also be available at Fulwell Post Office in Sea Road, who have long supported the author.

•We have five copies of Shipyard Girls in Love to give away. To be in with a chance of winning a copy, answer this question: which of these was a Sunderland shipyard?

A) Doxford

We have five copies of Shipyard Girls in Love to give away

We have five copies of Shipyard Girls in Love to give away

B) Barnes

C) Backhouse

Send your answer and contact details, including your address, to Shipyard Girls Competition, Katy Wheeler, Johnston Press North East, 2nd Floor, Alexander House, 1 Mandarin Road, Rainton Bridge Business Park, Houghton, DH4 5RA.

Alternatively, email your answer and contact details to Katy.Wheeler@jpress.co.uk. Closing date: April 3.