OT: Ship history help

(Cross-posted to uk.rec.waterways/uk.rec.engines.stationary)
My wife is researching my family's history, as well as her own, & has
come up with a snippet which I would like to pursue. We were brought up being told that William Hedley of Wylam, the railway locomotive pioneer, was a distant uncle. She is having trouble establishing the precise link. The one surviving aunt from my mother's generation says that her grandmother (a Hedley) was disowned by the family for marrying beneath her station (to a violinist), & knows no other details. One possible link my wife has found is a Hedley who was first mate of the steamship "Thomas Lea", which was in port in Kent during the 1881 census. I'm curious to find out more about this ship, but all I can find on line is that she was built at Palmers on the Tyne. She had a crew of fourteen, so must have been a fairly substantial vessel, so I imagine some other records exist somewhere. Has anyone here any knowledge of how to find that sort of thing? I would mainly like to find when build, type of ship, & who were the owners. William Hedley did become a coal owner after his locomotive exploits, and there is a suggestion that the Hedleys also became ship owners - so was the Thomas Lea a (large?) Tyne collier, perhaps?
Thanks in advance for any helpful suggestions
Cheers Tim
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Tim Leech wrote:

National Maritime Museum at Greenwich would have to be your best bet..
Cheers Tom
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Lloyds Register might also be worth a look.
Peter
-- Peter & Rita Forbes snipped-for-privacy@easynet.co.uk Engine pages for preservation info: http://www.oldengine.org/members/diesel
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The Genuki genealogy lists often carry references for maritime resources and a search through their archives will turn up many resources. regards Roland

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My sister-in-law's maiden name is Hedley... from Tyneside. Her dad was Henry (Harry), one of nine, mainly working in shipbuilding. As his father was also from a large family, we could related, distantly, by marriage.
--
David Long
Sankey Canal Restoration Society http://www.scars.org.uk /
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wrote:

Small world, innit? <g>
My family's branch of the Hedleys had migrated to Kent at some stage, whether or not that had anything to do with the Kent coalfields I have no idea (yet).
Cheers Tim
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I only worked (and went on strike) at Snowdown Colliery for a year in 1971/2... There were folk from all over the country down there - Geordies, Taffies, Lankies, Yorkies, Somerset men, Scots....
--
David Long
Sankey Canal Restoration Society http://www.scars.org.uk /
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