World-famous vessels, such as HMS Ark Royal, the Mauretania and the Carpathia, which rescued survivors from the Titanic, were built on the north bank of the River Tyne when shipbuilding was the area’s lifeblood.
Although the old industry is long gone, Shepherd Offshore is breathing fresh life into the land which once buzzed with the energy and activity of those historic yards.
When the company took possession of its now ultra-modern premises Neptune Energy Park (NEP) and Offshore Technology Park (OTP), which stand on former Swan Hunter shipyards, they were derelict.
But the firm has transformed the sites into world-class facilities which provide marine and specialist logistical support services to the offshore industries, working alongside the likes of Technip, Bridon, Subsea 7 and GE day to day, as well as global giants such as Chevron, BP, Shell and Apache.
Shepherd Offshore, established by former Newcastle United chairman Freddy Shepherd and his brother Bruce in 1987, is now expanding in North Tyneside with the acquisition of more than 100 acres of redeveloped prime waterside facilities and infrastructure.
The company has recently purchased another 10 acres of riverside real estate which strategically lies between NEP and the old Swan Hunter yard in Wallsend and includes the Grade II-listed Thermal Syndicate building.
As part of its strategy to support industry, the company is continually creating new capacity on the Tyne via responsible regeneration.
Although plans for the new land have not yet been finalised, it is set to be developed in the next few months and will be transformed into a first-class facility for subsea manufacturing.
Freddy Shepherd said: “From the outset it has been our quest to bring the old shipyards back into operation and create opportunities.
“It is our vision to continue with this activity, and to create more jobs for people on Tyneside.
“Shepherd Offshore is committed to making the Tyne the best in Europe for the oil and gas industry, and is one of the leading companies involved in the initiative.
“This year alone more than 100 ships have berthed at our two parks, and since we opened we have helped support the creation of around 2,000 jobs. To date we have spent £45m on NEP alone.”
NEP’s newest building which is now being built is the Neptune National Centre for Subsea and Offshore Engineering, the first of its kind in the UK.
Shepherd Offshore has partnered with Newcastle University to create the centre which is set to develop the subsea technologies of the future, and provide specialist training to students on Tyneside.
Also new to NEP is one of the largest crawler cranes in Europe which has been installed on the riverside after being shipped to Tyneside from Canada.
The crane, a Demag CC4800-111, will be able to support clients with lifts of up to 800 tonnes and has been assembled by highly-skilled Shepherd Offshore staff over a period of several weeks.
Bruce Shepherd said: “Due to the efficiency and lifting capability of the crane, we are confident of attracting new business from both local and international industries.
“This will make a huge difference to the services we are able to provide to our clients and will benefit the Tyne and the local economy.”
Shepherd Offshore bought NEP from North Tyneside Council and A&P Tyne in 2008 and it has since become a hive of activity, with its newest clients being global businesses including GE Innovation, Bridon, Fraser Hydraulic Power (FHP) and Subsea 7.
GE Innovation now has a new facility measuring 60,000sq ft on the site which it will use for pioneering research and development, while Bridon, a world-leader in the manufacture of wire and fibre rope, has acquired an even bigger building of 100,000sq ft.
Charles Shepherd, director of Shepherd Offshore, is keen to stress that at both parks the firm manages its clients’ projects from the point of conception right through to conclusion.
He said: “The service we offer is predominantly around mobilisation and demobilisation of vessels and material handling. We have a multitude of on-site storage available as well as fabrication facilities.
“We have the skillset as well as the resources and the facilities on-site to offer full turnkey service.
“Here at Shepherd Offshore we are not just looking to meet our clients’ standards, but the standards of their clients too; we are looking to exceed their expectations.”
For further information go to shepherdoffshore.com