The breathtakingly huge main dry-dock of the Pallion Shipyard, Sunderland is one of largest structures I’ve experienced and a bittersweet reminder of when Sunderland was one of the largest shipbuilding towns in the world.
In the boom year of the early 1900s, the yards employed over 12,000 men, a third of the town’s adult population. When the shipbuilding industry was nationalised in 1977, British Shipbuilders took over most of the larger yards. But competition from Japan and Korea was intense, and the yards suffered from shrinking order books. Despite heavy investment in new technology and massive protest, Sunderland’s last shipyards were closed down in 1988.