Readers solve the riddle of the pictures and the Irish connection.
The message with them read: "Hope these can be used. The date was 1957, at least that was what was written on the back of some of the pictures and shows the staff of Wimpey's working at Cargo Fleet. Found at a car boot sale, I don't need these back. Marcus" We asked our readers if they recognised these pictures and could say what was under construction and exactly where then please to let us know. We soon got answers from Peter Spence, John Williams, David Batch, John Wilson, John Richardson and Ed White. Peter wrote: I may be able to help to some extent with the mystery pictures as I worked at Smith's Dock from 1966 to 1977 as an electrician and at Cargo Fleet Works in 1980 to 1984. The large photo of the group with the derrick crane in the background was the 35-ton hammer head crane on the West Jetty (formerly the Admiralty Jetty). The roofs of the buildings are just visible and were on much higher ground than the jetty. They were the tinsmiths', the plumbers'/pipe fitters'/coppersmiths', the boiler shop, outside fitters' and auxiliary store (two buildings). These buildings and the jetty still exist as part of the offshore yard. The new entrance to the yard is actually just on the Cargo Fleet side of the divide. There was a ramp down to the jetty, which had a chain link fence on it which formed the divide.
The photo must have been taken on Cargo Fleet Wharf looking downriver. This was for the import of raw materials iron ore and coal. There was not much of a gap between the jetty and the wharf, The first photo of the men working inside looks like the inside of a retort or re-heating furnace as they are working with fire bricks and there is an "arch former" in the brickwork between the two men on the right.
The time scale must be about the late 1950s or early 60s because when I was at the dock, the wharf was in full operation. I wonder what the health and safety would say these days? No personal safety equipment, flat caps for the workers who often used them as gloves/mitts for handling hot items. Notice the foreman/manager was wearing a trilby.
What about the derrick crane! It was capable of lifting seven tons and must have weighed at least 10 tons plus and is stood on a pile of hardwood blocks with the legs supported by the concrete blocks. It was not fixed to anything other than by gravity and possibly some concrete blocks on the legs.
The last photo is only a guess but it could be part of the concrete foundation for the wharf as the wall behind is sheet piling, which was often used in deep excavations or to keep water out.
. ? WE also had a call from David Batch of Great Ayton who told us that he thinks that one of the pictures is the construction of the walking beam furnace at Cargo Fleet. Another of the pictures could be the construction of the foundations for the broad beam mill also at Cargo Fleet and the woman in white in the same photograph might be Sister Tate from the nurse ambulance for the site.
David worked at Cargo Fleet for many years but does not recognise any of the men in the pictures. He thinks that these photographs were taken by the contractors and show their own workforce involved with the construction of the mills and furnaces. The frequency of the Wimpey signs in these pictures seems to confirm this idea.
?The mystery pictures, which arrived from Northern Ireland and were published in our edition in September 2011