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 ARCHON GB3369.
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.
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.
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 Armstrong Building on Newcastle University’s central campus.
The Marine Technology Special Collection
Armstrong Building (Room 3.32)
Queen Victoria Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
Telephone: +44 (0)191 208 3522 (MTSC) or 6718
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 [new edition in preparation]: The Catalogue is 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:-
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), shiprepairing, and marine-engine building companies.
SEE ALSO Companies. Company histories. Marine Engineering. Shipbreaking. Shipbuilding. Ship repairing.
The Collection divides technical publications and shelves them by type, including:
- Periodicals: lists the Collections holdings including trade and industry magazines & research journals e.g. The Motor Ship, e.g. Trans RINA. Histories of each title with example pages are given in Periodicals Histories A, Periodicals Histories I, Periodicals Histories M, Periodicals Histories N, Periodicals Histories S, Periodicals Histories U.
- Books: mainly historical textbooks.
- Company Histories: books about the detailed history of individual companies.
- Statistical & Market Reports: e.g. LR World Fleet Statistics. Examples given in Statistical & Market Reports Examples
- Rules and Regulations: including national and international laws, design standards, etc. E.g. GB Department of Trade; IMO. SEE ALSO Classification Societies. Government.
- Ship Registers: ship register books are official lists “directories” of the world’s ships. Examples given in Ship Registers Examples. SEE ALSO Classification Societies. Trade Directories.
- Trade Directories: lists of companies and organisations with their facilities, services, products, staff, and addresses. Examples given in Trade Directories Examples. SEE ALSO Ship Registers.
- Bibliographies: lists of references and indexes on specific subjects.
- Biographies: books about the lives of individual famous people. SEE ALSO People.
- Dictionaries: including English and other languages, and translating dictionaries.
- Maps & Almanacs: Including maps, charts, & almanacs.
The Collection has other finding aids, including:
- British Shipbuilding Database: an authoritative and uniquely detailed database of 80,000 British-built ships of the 19th and 20th century. SEE ALSO Ships.
- Classification Societies: including ‘ship register books’ for ABS, CCS, BV, DNV, GL, LRS / LR, NKK, RI. SEE ALSO Rules & Regulations. Ship Registers.
- Companies: including shipbuilders, shipbreakers, shiprepairers, marine engine-builders:- British Shipbuilders. Hughes Bolckow. Middle Docks & Engineering. North Eastern Marine. Shipbreaking Industries Faslane. Swan Hunter. T. W. Ward of Sheffield. William Allan Scotia Engine Works. SEE ALSO Marine Engineering; Shipbreaking; Shipbuilding; Shiprepairing.
- Government: mainly Great Britain, Board of Trade. IMO (International Maritime Organisation). SEE ALSO Rules & Regulations.
- Learned Societies: professional trade associations for people such as naval architects. Including IMarE, NECIES, RINA
- Naval Architecture:
- People: specific famous people including naval architects Bocler, H.; Telfer, E. V. SEE ALSO Biographies.
- Shipping and Maritime:
- Ships: specific famous ships including Great Eastern; Majestic, Mauretania; Olympic; Turbinia. SEE ALSO British Shipbuilding Database.
Treasures of our Collection
A series of short reports are being written to highlight some of the unique materials in our Collection:
- Titanic and Olympic (PDF: 2.3MB): two of the most famous British passenger liners of ca. 1911