During the Second World War over 700 Sunderland women joined the ranks of the thousands of men in the shipbuilding industry; the shortage of skilled labour created by young men rushing off to fight was filled by women and girls as young as 15 who were trained as welders, crane drivers, electricians and riveters.
The Shipyard Girls, set in Sunderland in 1940, is a fictional story about women welders working at the North Sands yard of JL Thompson and Sons Ltd. The story concentrates on a group of female trainee welders, their families and relationships.
Although the novel has plenty of references to JLT and Sunderland and is obviously historically correct, thus making it of interest to those who can picture the area in which the story is set, I think it places too much emphasis on the romantic and personal relationships of the women. Perhaps a little more factual input on the women’s war work and a little less attention on their personal life would have made a more interesting read. That, of course, is my opinion and I enjoyed the book nonetheless. For those who are staying at Thistledowne and therefore in the area where the novel is set it will take you back to the Monkwearmouth riverside and Sunderland of the 1940s.