School of Engineering

Marine Technology Special Collection

Marine Technology Special Collection


The Marine Technology Special Collection, now accessible for the first time, is an important resource of unique historical maritime technical documents from the British shipbuilding and related industries.

It is a unique historical resource of marine technical documents from British shipbuilding, including the less well documented marine engine building, ship repairing, and shipbreaking industries. The Collection spans the mid-19th century to 2000, with an emphasis on North East England.

Newcastle University has made a significant contribution to this industrial heritage, and our work in Marine, Offshore and Subsea Technology is renowned throughout the world. For over a century, we have played a leading role in the teaching and research of the marine technologies including naval architecture, shipbuilding and marine engineering.

Thus the University, with its subject expertise, is well placed to help preserve and promote the north east of England and its vital contribution to the proud maritime heritage of Great Britain, for long the world’s leading shipbuilding nation.

The Collection owes its existence to a lifetime’s interest and dedicated collecting, storing, cataloguing, and fundraising by University staff Ian Buxton and Brian Newman.

The Collection is a member of:

  • the UK national organisation, the Archives Hub, membership number Find An Archive (formerly ARCHON) GB3369 (we are listed with a brief description only: no materials online)
  • Discovery, National Archive
Special Collection_01
Isle of Man 20 knot turbine steamer ‘Viking’ of 1905 in dry dock on the River Tyne

Historical Resorces

The Collection contains 318 linear metres of shelving (127 m company documents. 191 m technical publications) and British Shipbuilding Database (BSD) of 80,000 UK-built merchant ships. Please download further details about our Historical Resources.

The Collection’s strength is that many of the company documents and some of the database’s ship information are unique: and are supported by a wide range of associated technical publications in magazines, journals, textbooks, design rules, etc together with the subject expertise of our staff.

Finding Aids = Search our Collection

The Collection is only partially catalogued. Click at the top of our webpage on Search Collection

Opening hours and visiting

We welcome enquiries and visits from researchers and the general public, including individuals or groups for an informal tour and introduction to our range of resources.

Normally open on:

Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 11.00-15.00:

Other times may be arranged. Closed on public holidays.

All visits are by prior appointment only

Please contact us to discuss your needs and/or to arrange your visit for a day and time that the Collection is open and to ensure that the materials you intend to consult are available. Identification is required.

Our expert staff offer a free advice service for simple short enquiries only. Please download our example Enquiries Questions asked and questions searched for on the British Shipbuilding Database. Requests for more detailed research services will be considered case-by-case on a fee-paying basis.

Please download our Guidance for Visitors including handling, copying, photographing of materials, copyright and our form Copying Declaration for Visitors for Visitors.

Donors and Funding 

Newcastle University’s Marine Technology Special Collection has been made possible thanks to generous support from Alumni and others. Please download Donors and Funding.


We welcome applications from people with a keen interest in marine technology historical research, together with industrial work experience, or appropriate qualifications to work with us as volunteers to assist with cataloguing and developing our Special Collection.

How to Contact and Find Us

Contact and location

Our Collection is housed in the campus and city map on Newcastle University’s central campus.

The Marine Technology Special Collection
Newcastle University 
Armstrong Building (Room 3.32)
Queen Victoria Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 3522 (MTSC) or +44 (0) 191 208 6718 (Enquiries, School of Engineering, Armstrong Building)

Armstrong Building is number 22  on the map.

Armstrong Building

Search Collection

Search our Collection

The Collection does not yet have an online catalogue. Please use the finding aids shown below. They are mostly a brief introduction to the subjects and holdings in the Collection.

Catalogue (revised 11 June 2019) (Excel .xlsx: 1.46MB): The Catalogue lists details of company documents in the Collection which have been catalogued to date. It does not yet list any other materials such as technical publications (magazine and journals, textbooks, ship registers, etc).  SEE ALSO the topics listed below.
The Collection holds two main types of documents: company documents and technical publications.

Company documents

Many are unique, including:

Company records including correspondence, ledgers, minutes of meetings. Company publicity brochures and catalogues (not unique).

  • Photographs: of company activities and their ships.
  • Plans: layout plans of ships, yards, works, machinery, and equipment.
  • Trials: ship and marine engine trial records.
  • Letterheads of marine businesses are included in many of the above materials.

Most of these materials are from industrial companies of shipbuilding, shipbreaking (The Collection has the largest and most complete shipbreaking collection in the UK), ship repairing, and marine-engine building companies.

SEE ALSO Companies. Company histories. Marine Engineering. Shipbreaking. Shipbuilding. Ship repairing.

Technical publications

The Collection divides technical publications and shelves them by type, including:

The Collection has other finding aids, including:


Highlighting unique materials in the Marine Technology Special Collection.

Highlights of our Collection

A series of short reports are being written to highlight some of the unique materials in the Collection:

  • Mauretania (PDF: 3.7MB): a famous British passenger liner of 1907
  • Titanic and Olympic (PDF: 2.3MB): two of the most famous British passenger liners of ca. 1911