Sense of doom replaced by hope

MARY FAGAN

Industrial Correspondent

The arrival of the Germans has finally relieved the sense of doom that has pervaded Wallsend since the demise of the Swan Hunter shipyard last year. For many of the sacked Swan Hunter shipyard workers, there was real hope that the region could become one of regeneration after two decades of decline as traditional industries bit the dust.

John Morrison, chairman of the North Shields Chamber of Commerce, said Siemens' decision would help the area back to the days before Swan's closure. "Any job news is good news as far as we are concerned and this is the best we could have hoped for. Hopefully, we can start going forward from here," he said.

William Oliver, 44, a father of two, was one of those facing a bleak future when he left the yard for the final time after 19 years' service in the electrical stores.

He said: "The closure of Swan Hunter hit everyone badly. A lot of lads, especially the older ones, were left wondering if they would ever work again. This news will act as a perfect pick-me-up. Wallsend has taken a hammering in recent years and this news has been long overdue."

The mood among local businesses was also one of cheer. Robbed of custom since Swan's closure, they are looking for a jump in trade from up to 2,000 newly employed and their families.

According to Dave Peverley, 42, a sandwich shop proprietor: "It is marvellous for this community to be chosen like this. It has not been easy in Wallsend since the closure of Swans - the place was killed off, but trade will surely start picking up again because it has been fairly flat for the last two years."

Winning the microchip factory is the latest phase in the transformation of the North-east of England, which in 15 years has seen its industrial identity totally changed. The region, once a cornerstone of the industrial revolution, has lost nearly all its heavy industry, which as recently as the mid-1970s employed a third of the working population.

Besides the loss of tens of thousands of shipbuilding jobs, the region has watched the decimation of its coal industry, which in 1947 employed 148,000 men. Now only one deep mine, Ellington, remains, operated by a workforce of a few hundred.

The image of dirty overalls, smokestacks, pit-heaps and shipyard cranes has been replaced by one of diversity.

Foreign investment has been an important part of the transformation, with more than 380 companies investing in the North-east and Cumbria.

They have pumped more than pounds 4bn into their projects, creating more than 32,000 new jobs and safeguarding over 21,000 more.

Although not the first Japanese firm to move into the region, Nissan led the dramatic change with its 1984 decision to set up its first UK car plant in Sunderland, where unemployment was high.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea