Sunderland’s Concrete Cruiser – SS Cretehawser

This is a 102 year old concrete steam tug called the SS Cretehawser and, in case you’ve not seen it before, resides on the muddy banks of the River Wear…

You have to rewind all the way back to 1919 when the Ministry of Shipping – the governing body of British ports, shipping and waterway placed an order with the Wear Concrete Building Company to build eight of these bizarre concrete steam tugs.

SS Cretehawser

The plan was to bring iron ore to Blighty from Northern Spain across the risky North Sea.

SS Cretehawser
SS Cretehawser on the River Wear

The company actually launched four of the heavy concrete tugs which were successful, albeit less manoeuvrable. Of the four, Creterock crashed into a trawler, Cretecable sank and Creterope was eventually dismantled.

SS Cretehawser

Larger than it looks, the SS Cretehawser could easily house 17 crew members and was successfully operational until around 1935 until it was utilised as an emergency breakwater.

SS Cretehawser

Cretehawser Details

Length: 125ft
Beam: 27ft 6”
Draught: 13ft 6”
Gross registered tonnage: 262 tons
Propulsion: Screw driven, 3-cylinder triple expansion 120 hp
Machinery: Central Marine Engine Works, West Hartlepool