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Charles Johnstone

Reference 1793/1/1

In 1895, Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Limited introduced an in-house work publication called, The Shipyard .

Within the June 1922 edition an article, Our Portrait Gallery focuses on the personal story of night watchman, Charles Johnstone. It reveals that Johnstone was born in Mobile, Alabama in the USA and was a sailor from a young age. He joined the ship Magnolia, belonging to Wilson & Brian of South Shields and began his working life with Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Limited in 1895 as a stager. The article marks the 27 years of service by Johnstone, who only lost three nights work. Known to collegaues as, Black Charlie his character in the article is defined as cheery at all times, bright, faithful, and a man of principle.

Portrait of Charles Johnstone from 1922

  Charles Jonhstone in 1922



The 1901 census reveals Charles, then 40 years old, was married to Margaret (of Irish Descent) and the father of three children, Maggie (born in Scotland), Catherine and Alice (both born in Newcastle). The family lived in the Civil Parish of Byker and the ecclesiastical parish of St Anthony's. The spelling of Charles' surname is contradicted in the census, stating Johnson as opposed to Johnstone .

At the age of 75 years, Charles passed away on the 7th January 1936. A tribute in February's 1936 edition of The Shipyard exists as a mark of respect for Johnstone's long service and loyalty to the Wallsend shipyard. Poignantly, this year also saw the demise of Swan's most famous ship, the Maurentania .

This existing evidence of Charlie's life in the North East inspired Sheree Mack to write Voice from the Yard as part of Legacy's education project Eye on the Past.