Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Voyage of 1905 Revealed; Tony Henderson Dips into a Diary of a Young Man's Voyage of a Lifetime

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Voyage of 1905 Revealed; Tony Henderson Dips into a Diary of a Young Man's Voyage of a Lifetime

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson

LITTLE could Arthur McClelland have known that his 21st birthday present would be enjoyed more than a century later by as yet unborn generations.

The present was to be one of two passengers on the 1905 maiden voyage of the Sunderland-built cargo steamer SS Salient.

Leaving from South Shields with a cargo of Tyne coal, the ship travelled almost 8,000 miles to Genoa, Constantinople and Tsarist Russia, returning with grain from the Ukraine.

Arthur obligingly kept a diary and also took his own photographs, which he developed on board, with around 50 surviving.

His words and images portray not only life more than a century ago, but the everyday routine aboard a cargo ship and the excitement of discovering new lands and peoples.

It was a very different world then, and within a few years of Arthur's visit it was to change dramatically.

He describes Gallipoli as a "very old and quaint Turkish town".

Only a decade later Gallipoli would be a byword for military disaster and futile slaughter in the First World War.

Arthur also called at Odessa, and just two months later it was to play a key part in the 1905 Russian revolution following a mutiny by sailors in the port as portrayed in Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 film Battleship Potemkin.

Arthur kept his diary in a red leather notebook bought from R Ward and Sons in High Bridge, Newcastle.

It forms the basis for a new book, From Tyne to Tsar, published by the University of Sunderland Press at pounds 7.95. The other passenger was a much older man called Mr Cummings, who eventually had to be put ashore at Constantinople in ill health.

Arthur mixed well with the crew and seems to have been on good terms with the captain, George Nicholson, who had been a Durham Cathedral choirboy.

The diary begins with Arthur and most of the Salient's crew signing up at the shipping office at the Customs House in Mill Dam, South Shields, now an arts centre. The ship left the Tyne on March 10, reaching Genoa in Italy on March 25. As the Salient's cargo of coal was unloaded, the crew watched the German Kaiser's yacht Hohenzollern sailing out of the harbour to a gunfire salute. …

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