Historic paintings show when North East's ports were booming metropolis

19th Century images of North ports recalling powerhouse days fetch £35,000 in auction

Shipping in Sunderland harbour by John Wilson Carmichael

It was a time when North East shipping and ports were booming.

Fishing fleets and exports from coal to glass underpinned the region’s economy and fuelled the development of Newcastle and Sunderland.

The busy shipping scenes, allied with often dramatic seascapes, fascinated the artists of the day.

Now four paintings of this period in North East history have fetched more than £35,000 at auction.

At Anderson & Garland’s Newcastle sale yesterday, a depiction of fish boats at Newcastle Quayside in 1823 sold for £18,000.

The painting, by Thomas Miles Richardson Snr, shows the Quayside thick with boats and also portrays the old houses lining the river, many of which were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1854.

Tynemouth believed to have been painted around 1840 by John Wilson Carmichael

The painting is inscribed with the artist’s address of 4 Brunswick Place, Newcastle.

It is believed that the last time the painting was exhibited in public was at the Palace of Arts at the Great North Coast Exhibition of 1929 in Newcastle, which drew 4.3m visitors.

Richardson was the son of a Newcastle schoolmaster and was apprenticed to a cabinet maker.

But he became an accomplished landscape, marine and figure painter and exhibited at the Royal Academy.

He also played a key role in setting up the Northern Academy of Arts and the Newcastle Society of Artists.

The other three works are by John Wilson Carmichael.

His study of Tynemouth and shipping is thought to have been painted in 1840 and is marked “Painted for Miss Anderson, Jesmond.”

It fetched £8,400.

His view of shipping in Sunderland harbour sold for £6,000 and his study of Craster harbour in Northumberland in 1837 realised £3,500.

Fish boats at Newcastle Quay in 1823 by Thomas Miles Richardson Snr
Fish boats at Newcastle Quay in 1823 by Thomas Miles Richardson Snr

John Wilson Carmichael was the son of a Newcastle shipwright and went to sea as a boy.

He returned to an apprenticeship as a shipwright but went on to be one of the most admired painters in the region.

“At the time the North East had some of the busiest ports in the world,” said auctioneer John Anderson.

“Shipping was tied up all the way down the Tyne. It pulsed with maritime energy.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer