Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

God Speed, We'll See You All Again

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

God Speed, We'll See You All Again

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jane Hall

It was 9.40am when the first Tall Ship came into view around the final bend of the Tyne at North Shields, and a huge cheer burst from the 5,000 spectators packed into Tynemouth Priory.

Like the other tens of thousands gathered on Tynemouth's Spanish Battery, Collingwood Monument and North Pier, they had no doubt been wondering what had possessed them to leave their warm homes and cars behind to huddle in the rain.

All that was forgotten as the Polish Dar Mlodziezy glided serenely towards the mouth of the Tyne, bidding a fond farewell to both the North-East and the crowds with a double blast of its foghorn.

With the wind in the wrong direction, the graceful giant could not hoist its sails inside the river and was forced to use its engines.

But the crowds didn't care as they shouted and waved back at the crew gathered on the deck.

All too quickly it had passed the piers and was heading out towards HMS Invincible, anchored offshore. So leaden was the sky that Invincible was at times barely visible as one battleship grey merged with another.

The day had dawned overcast, but with the sun trying to break through it gave some hope that the rain might hold off until the ships had been sent on their way. It was not to be. The first spots of rain fell at 8.30am. By 9am there was a steady stream.

As the umbrellas went up, those who had come unprepared for the vagaries of an English summer's day rushed to buy Tall Ships' macs from vendors outside the priory and in the Spanish Battery car park.

The first of the crowds had begun trickling into Tynemouth at 7am. By 9am the trickle was a raging torrent.

Tynemouth Front Street, its bunting fluttering damply in the breeze, was a sea of umbrellas as young and old alike rushed for vantage points.

The queue for tickets to English Heritage's special Tall Ships' Parade Party at the priory snaked for yards and the 5,000 allocated were sold out long before the first mast was sighted. …

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