From the regional heyday of producing a quarter of the world’s ships in the opening decade of the twentieth century (Hudson 1989), Tyneside in north east England established a reputation for engineering innovation and manufacturing prowess. The ‘carboniferous capitalism’ of coal, iron and steel underpinned specialization and international technological leadership in heavy engineering in Britain’s imperial markets (Tomaney 2006). Industrial pioneers such as William Armstrong, Charles Parsons and George Stephenson in concert with skilled and unionized urban labour meant ‘Made in Tyneside’ was commercially meaningful and valuable (Middlebrook 1968). During the 1950s and 1960s, Historian Paul Kennedy described this time and place as:
A world of great noise and much dirt… [where] … There was a deep satisfaction about making things … among all of those that had supplied the services, whether it was the local bankers with credit; whether it was the local design firms. When a ship was launched at Swan Hunter [Wallsend, North Tyneside] all the kids at the local school went to see the thing our fathers had put together and when we looked down from the cross-wired fence, tried to find Uncle Mick, Uncle Jim or your dad, this notion of an integrated, productive community was quite astonishing.
(quoted in Chakrabortty 2011: 1)
Vessels, such as HMS York (Figure 1.1), were made in the ...