SILVERLAUREL, refrigerated cargo ship built 1938, Triple Steam Turbines, single screw, engines by Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Co. Ltd.  River Wear. Official Number: 167197.  built 1939,by J. L. Thompson & Sons Ltd., seen here shortly after launch, attended by the Wear tug HeppletonHall. Fate: Torpedoed by U.155 on passage Duala via Falmouth for Hull Info courtesy of National Archives. RK 



Eppleton Hall was built in 1914 by Hepple and Company of South Shields, for the Lambton and Hetton Collieries Ltd, and named after the house near Penshaw owned by the Hetton Coal Company. She was designed to tow seagoing colliers from sea to wharf side and back, primarily in the River Wear and to and from the River Tyne.[citation needed] For sailing ships this saved time, while for larger steam and motor vessels it saved navigation and pilotage costs. She was also used to tow newly built ships out to the North Sea.She is one of two survivors of a once-numerous type of steam powered paddle tug that began with the 1814 "Tyne Steam Boat", later named Perseverance. One of the last of her type built, Eppleton Hall was equipped with twin surface condensing side-lever engines of the "grasshopper" or "half-lever" type, totalling 500 indicated horsepower (370 kW), also built by Hepple & Company. Her speed was 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph), and her engines could function independently of each other to aid manoeuvrability, enabling her to turn inside her own length.The tug was operated from 1914 by the Lambton & Hetton Collieries Ltd which, merged with the Joicey Collieries in 1924 to form the Lambton, Hetton & Joicey Collieries Ltd. In November 1945, a little before the collieries themselves were nationalised and vested in the National Coal Board, the towage business was sold to France, Fenwick Tyne and Wear Ltd which, after refurbishment, operated her at Sunderland on the River Wear until 1964. In 1952, the tug was modified slightly to obtain a passenger certificate, so that she could transport officials from newly built ships after they had completed their sea trials.[In November 1964 France, Fenwick Tyne & Wear disposed of their last paddle tugs, Houghton (built in 1904, also by Hepple, for the Lambton Collieries, and which was scrapped) and Eppleton Hall. The latter was sold to the Seaham Harbour Dock Company, where she worked alongside Reliant.Sold to shipbreakers Clayton and Davie Ltd for scrap in 1967, she was left sitting on a mud bank in Dunston. As part of the scrapping process her wooden afterdeck and interior were destroyed by fire prior to being broken up. The tug remained there for two years, deck frames warped, wood burned or rotted, hull part flooded and engines rusty but intact.Mike