Shipyard Girls tour: Your chance to walk in the footsteps of Sunderland's Second World War industrial heroes
A special tour takes place this week which will give people the chance to walk in the footsteps of the Wearside women who played a pivotal role in the war effort.
As their husbands, sons and friends fought on the battlefields, hundreds of Wearside women took on the backbreaking work of the then town’s shipyards, which were one of the biggest shipbuilders in the world.
More than 700 women were employed in the yards at the height of the conflict, including 130 at Doxfords, and almost a thousand more found work in marine engineering shops.
Their hard work is honoured in the hugely-successful The Shipyard Girls series of books, penned by Roker author Amanda Revell Walton, who writes under the pen name Nancy Revell.
Although her characters are fictional, their stories are interwoven with real bombings and incidents, which Amanda painstakingly researches from historical documents and Sunderland Echo archives.
Now Sunderland-born Ian Mole, who works as a professional tour guide in London, will be returning to home turf to host a walking tour of locations featured in the books, which have been so successful they’ve featured on the Sunday Times Bestseller List.
Amanda, whose own family worked in the shipyards, said: “Ian asked if he could set up a tour and I said 'yes, of course!'. Whenever I do any talks people are always saying what a good idea it would be to have a walk/ tour around some of the places in the book. I've even had people volunteer to do them.
“I think a tour is a great way of celebrating the city's heritage and its past – and also a really interesting insight into how Sunderland has changed.”
She added: “I'm always amazed when I do research to look at photos of buildings that are no longer in existence, many of which were razed to the ground during bombing raids, and also to see buildings/ places which are still exactly as they were – the museum, our parks such as Mowbray Park, Backhouse Park, Roker Park, the sea front, Whitburn and Ashbrooke. It's a shame, though, that Tatham Street, which is where the Elliots live in my books, is so different and their house (number 34) which was where my mum Audrey Walton was brought up, is now a car park.”
Ian said: “We'll visit many of the places connected with the Shipyard Girls books as well as other sites associated with World War Two. The tour will be on foot all the way and should last around two and a quarter hours.”
*The Shipyard Girls Walking Tour takes place on Thursday August, 29 at 10.30am. It costs £10 and tickets are available on https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/the-official-shipyard-girls-tour