Tyne Voyages

About Tyne Voyages

Tyne Voyages is a collection of stories by acclaimed writer Michael Chaplin. The stories aren’t made up, they are all true, and their extraordinary events really happened, just as the equally extraordinary people in them lived and breathed the sea air.

These stories are about journeys on water, the people who made them and the cargoes they carried with them. They begin 2000 years ago when early settlers at the mouth of the Tyne built tiny, flimsy boats and end with the mighty ships made of steel and powered by engines of the recent past and present. The journeys cover distances both long and short and encompass the globe and every continent on it. Some end in wealth and glory, others in ignominy and death. But they all form part, a very important part, of this distinctive place wedged between the waters, fresh and salt, of the Tyne and the North Sea.

There are a number of elements to the project, which has been curated by Matthew Jarratt, for you to enjoy.

  • In Market Place, located directly outside of The Word, you will find the ship names, dates, destinations, cargoes and people involved etched into the seating
  • Within The Word you can explore a trail of wooden pages that showcase the stories and reveal South Tyneside’s amazing seafaring heritage
  • Heading to the Rooftop Viewing Terrace of The Word will not only provide you with stunning views of the River Tyne which inspired the stories but you can view on a map just how these stories connect South Tyneside to the rest of the World
  • Search out one of the Delights located on Levels 1 and 2 and listen to Michael Chaplin as he retells the stories

Listen to one of Michael’s stories

Get a sneak peak, listen to one of Michael’s stories – Dead Penguins and Drunken Sailors.

A message from Michael Chaplin

A few years ago I became the Port of Tyne’s writer-in-residence and discovered a great story I later told in the book Tyne View and the stage play Tyne: the long, symbiotic relationship between the river and its people. Thus I came to understand that South Tyneside is different from its three cousins, the other Tyneside boroughs by the water: a place set apart.

It wasn’t just the constant salty breeze from off the sea, but the growing sense that the making of ships and the going to sea over many generations has shaped this community – defined its identity and soul – and does so still.

Collectively, the people of South Tyneside have, if you like, sea legs.

‘Make journeys. Attempt them.’

Years ago I came across this cryptic remark by the American playwright Tennessee Williams and pondered its meaning. In a way every human being on this planet undertakes a journey through her or his life, almost inevitably facing along the way difficulties, uncertainties and even dangers. Perhaps the reason we’ve always been fascinated by those who make real journeys across vast oceans is that their external struggles in some way reflect our own internal ones. That’s my theory anyway.

I hope you enjoy visiting The Word and reading these fascinating stories of South Tyneside’s remarkable past and present.

Prepare to be amazed! Prepare to be inspired!

The project received funding from Arts Council England, South Tyneside Council and Port of Tyne.

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