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Shirley Copeland

Shirley was born in Wallsend at the GB Hunter Memorial Hospital on The Green in 1952.

Her father was a Commissionaire at Swan Hunter and the family lived in the ‘Big White House’ was at the top of Swan Hunter’s bank. Shirley talks about her memories of living in the “Big White House” and some of the launches at Swan Hunter.

Shirley was interviewed by Alex Magin on 24 November 2006. The interview took place at Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum and lasted for 33 minutes.

Shirley Copeland's Memories

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The launches, well, it was always lots of dignitaries and people coming down that were invited.  Sometimes the school children were invited to stand on the sides of the bank.  And depending on who was actually coming to launch the ship.  They would always come up and have a meal in this place called the Institution; it was like a restaurant for the white collar workers.  We knew the family quite well, I’m sure they were called Mr and Mrs Summerville and they were very friendly with my mum and dad, they ran the place.  So you would sometimes be in the background there where you wouldn’t be seen so you could see what was going on.  If the person who was launching the ship had say they would stay behind, obviously, they would come and have a meal at this place.

But I always just remember the crowds of people coming to these launches and it was such a big affair, y’know.  My dad was there right in the thick of it.  He met Princess Margaret and he met Lord Mountbatten and I’ve got some lovely photographs of him, not in there presence, but he was there, holding the book open for them to sign it which was a nice thing.  It’s lovely piece of history that I’ve got of my dad, y’know.