Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Blyth Shipbuilding and Dry Docks Co

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of 30 James Street, Liverpool

The site of the Blyth yard has been occupied by a number of different companies, and has produced a wide range of vessels; from small wooden sailing ships to cargo-liners to large tankers. [1]

1811 Shipbuilding began on this site on the south bank of the river Blyth. This area is known today as Wimborne Quay.

1840s The yard was purchased by Beaumont and Drummond.

1863 Hodgson and Soulsby took over from Beaumont and Drummond. Hodgson & Soulsby repaired and built small wooden sailing ships.

1880 The first two iron ships were built at Blyth for the Russian Government.

1883 The company was registered on 2 March. [2] The yard was turned into a limited liability company Blyth Shipbuilding & Dry Docks Co. Ltd. The fifth ship built by the yard was for Stephens and Mawson of Newcastle. Daniel Stephens was the senior partner and he eventually became Director and then Chairman of the Blyth Shipbuilding yard.

1896-1913 Seventeen cargo-liners and tramps were built by the yard during this period. Colliers were also built by the yard during this period.

1914 The seaplane carrier Ark Royal was purchased by the Admiralty and launched on 5th September. Ark Royal served throughout World War 1. After the war, she was converted into the depot ship Pegasus in 1923 and served as a catapult ship and accommodation during World War 2.

WWI The Blyth yard completed nine tramps and colliers, along with four torpedo boat destroyers and ten lighters for the Admiralty.

1920-25 The yard built seven colliers, four 'corrugated' tramps which were notable because they had two or three horizontal bulges running along the hull. These gave a better flow of water to the propeller, making the ship faster.

1924/5 The yard built a number of 'Arch-decker' colliers, designed by Ayre and Ballard. This design was different because the upper deck was arched from stern to stern. The longitudinal arch gave extra strength so that long, unobstructed holds as stringers and hold pillars were unnecessary. The yard manufactured seven of these types of vessel.

1925 Daniel Stephens died on 19th March aged 80. The yard closed in May due to the collapse of the freight market. A receiver was appointed.

1926 Robert Stanley Dalgleish, a Newcastle shipowner purchased the yard in November. The yard's name was changed to Cowpen Dry Docks and Shipbuilding Co. The yard was amalgamated with Ritson's Shipbuilding and Engineering Co

1930 After completing a number of ships, the yard closed.

1937 The yard was reactivated again in the summer of 1937 under the old Blyth name. The yard built a number of vessels for the Admiralty. These continued to be built until 1942 where five 'River' class frigates followed by seven 'Castle' class frigates were manufactured.

1947 The yard was now owned by Mollers (Hong Kong) Ltd. It had four berths and five dry docks. Turbine-driven cargo-liners were built for Moller's shipping subsidiary Lancashire Shipping Co.

1949 11 tankers were made and launched for a number of different companies.

1954 The main berth of the yard was extended to 550 feet in order to build larger tankers and ore carriers.

1961 Four coastal steamers were completed for Stephenson Clarke along with another for William Cory and Sons.

1961 Shipbuilders, ship repairers and dry dock owners. Also coppersmiths, electrical welders and brassfounders. 1,400 employees.

1966 A grab dredger and two hoppers were completed along with three trailing suction dredgers.

1967 The yard closed down and repair work and ship-breaking was then carried on by various companies in the dry-docks. The shipbuilding berths were demolished to make room for a paper and timber storage area for the Port of Blyth.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. British Shipbuilding Yards. 3 vols by Norman L. Middlemiss
  2. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908