Fred Gooch

Fred Gooch is one of Sunderlands shipyard people, with his picture on the Keel Square propellor.  He's also the SMH volunteer that manages the work on our large scale model of the HMS Venerable.  Using his skills gained over many years as a modelmaker for various shipbuilders he is working on completing the detailed topsides of the model.  Fred has made some wonderful, fully working parts of the ship such as it's steering mechanism, two double deck capstans and other features.  All these features are made as authentically as possible, following period plans. Here is Fred describing his background in his own words.


"In 1973 I started at Sunderland Shipbuilders as a Technical Clerk, later becoming an Assistant Buyer.  While at the shipyard I used to drink in Pallion WMC.  It was in here that me and a couple of friends discussed building the a model of a ship.  I would get the plans from the shipyard and we would each build a model.  As it turned out, I was the only one to do it".


"The first ship I built in 1977 was called Cedarbank, the first ship from Pallion's new covered yard, and the model was made in balsa wood.  My second model was also a Pallion ship called Craftsman, again made of balsa.  Both I think were not bad for my first attempt, but eventually they were shot to pieces and set on fire after I'd had a few".


"At one time most shipyards employed their own modelmakers.  However, these craftsmen were finished and their work was passed on to modelmaking companies.  An old modelmaker told me that most of these models used yellow pine for their hulls and luckily I could get this timber from Doxford Engine Works as it was used by their patternmakers.  I think my models improved a lot from using yellow pine together with the fact I worked next door to the design office who were both really helpful but could also be critical if I didn't get things right".


"By the time I was made redundant in 1988 I'd built about ten ships models, almost all of them were models of Sunderland built ships.  In November 1988 I got a job in Barrow-in-Furness as a modelmaker.  I was one of fifty-odd modelmakers building a 1:5 scale model of a Trident nuclear submarine.  The model was approximately 10ft in diameter and built entirely of perspex, the idea being to prove everything would fit in the actual submarine.  Nowadays, CAD replaces this kind of model.  After Barrow I continued to build model ships, but then having worked with perspex, I moved on to building churches, guitars, cranes and just about anything else, as long as it was made in Sunderland".


Fred at work and some of his fantastic models

A video from the Hylton Castle Project with a scale model which was built Fred.

© Sunderland Maritime Heritage, registered charity in England and Wales (1089465)