“Tyne Pride And Fall”: Chris Killip’s Photographs Of Britain’s Vanished Industrial Heartlands

Chris Killip’s photographs of shipbuilding on Tyneside show us hulking ships and industrial cranes as backdrops to everyday life in Wallsend and South Shields. The ship Tyne Pride, which he photographed in 1975, was the biggest ship ever built on the river, but also one of the last.

“Even then I had a sense that all this was not going to last,” he says, “though I had no idea how soon it would all be gone.”

In an early photograph, Tyne Pride looms over children playing in the street. Only two years later, another photograph shows the same street demolished, dramatic evidence of the industry’s decline. Other photographs capture the energy of the mid-1970s, with ships under construction and shipyard workers streaming out of the gates at the end of shift. Chris Killip (born 11 July 1946) has given this set of exhibition prints to Newcastle Laing Museum in honour of the shipyard workers of Tyneside.

“The working class get it in the neck basically, they’re the bottom of the pile,” says Chris Killip. “I wanted to record people’s lives because I valued them. I wanted them to be remembered. If you take a photograph of someone they are immortalised, they’re there forever. For me that was important, that you’re acknowledging people’s lives, and also contextualising people’s lives.”

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Wallsend Housing Looking East, 1975

End of Shift

Tyne Pride from a back lane, Wallsend, 1975

Demolished housing, Wallsend, August 1977

Tyne Pride at the end of the street, Wallsend

Shipyard workers looking at the Everett F Wells, Wallsend, 1977

Father and Son Watching a Parade, West End, Newcastle; UK, 1980

A Car Dumped on the Beach Has to Be Outmanoeuvred by the Seacoalers, Lynemouth, Northumberland, UK, 1982

Chris Killip, from the series ‘In Flagrante Two’- “True love wall, Gateshead, Tyneside” (1975)

Chris Killip, from the series ‘In Flagrante Two’- “May 5th 1981, North Shields, Tyneside” (1981)

Crabs and People, Skinningrove, North Yorkshire, 1981

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