Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Smiths Dock Co

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1907.
1907.
1907.
1910. Hopper dredger Priestman.
1911. Meyer's liquid fuel system.
1914. Meyer-Smith patent liquid fuel system.
1914.
c1950. Smith's Dock.
1950. Duke Street.
1951. Smith's Dock.
1950. Wellington Vaults
1959. Motor Oil Tanker "Amastra", 17,800 tons dead weight, for Shell Tankers.

Smith's Dock Co, often referred to simply as Smiths Dock, was a British shipbuilding company of High Docks, North Shields, and later of South Bank in Middlesbrough on the River Tees.

The company developed at North Shields from its predecessor T. and W. Smith who established a major drydock complex there in the late 19th. century. They also built ships under their own name between 1848 and 1890 after which they concentrated on repairs [1].

1899 The company was registered [2] as result of amalgamation of T. and W. Smith with the Bull Ring repair yards of Harry S. Edwards and Sons and Edwards Brothers.

1899 Public company.

1900 Building of ships resumed under the Smiths Dock name [3].

1907/8 The Smith's Dock Co shipyard and associated drydocks and repair facilities were developed on a completely new site fronting the River Tees at South Bank, a little way downstream from Middlesbrough, with steelworks to east and west [4].

1909/10 The last two vessels launched at North Shields were fitted out at the new South Bank yard in 1909-1910; the sequence of yard numbers began with 417 in continuity from the Tyneside yard [5].

1910 The Yard made its first dredger Priestman followed by twenty small trawlers and drifters, one whaler, two tugs, two barges and three coasters. [6]

1911 55 small trawlers, drifters and whalers were completed. The yard opened its first engine works and fitted its first engine.

1912 The yard began making whale-catchers along with minesweepers and coasters.

1914 Listed as dry-dock owners, engineers, shipbuilders, makers of steam trawlers, steam drifters and tugs. [7]

1914 Directory: Listed as Marine Engineers [8]

WWI The yard's output was 160 small ships.

1920-22 The yard began arc-welding along with riveting. Up to 1930 the yard mainly made colliers, tramps and cargo-liners.

1925 The Stockton yard that had belonged to Ropner and Son closed and was later occupied by Smiths Dock Co

1930 The yard entered The Depression with a number of orders on its books. It completed 13 vessels in 1930 and 1931.

1931 The Stockton yard of Smiths Dock Co was purchased by National Shipbuilders Security for closure and dismantling, together with 7 other yards [9].

1932 The worst year for the yard was 1932 when it was only able to launch one motor trawler.

1936 The "Flower" class corvette based on the design of the whale-catcher Southern Pride, made its debut. 19 were made by the yard and 200 by other yards.

1937 The old dry dock was acquired by John Readhead and Sons

1938 In the late 1930s the yard produced large oil carriers and tankers

WWII: Smiths Dock are most famous for preparing the design of the Flower class corvette, an anti-submarine convoy escort of WWII.

1940 A number of yard employees were killed when the French corvetter La Bastiase was lost at sea.

1940s The yard made a number of cargo ships, tramps, colliers and the last case-oil carrier.

1946-1962 The yard focussed on building tankers with 41 being built during this period.

1961 Ship builders and repairers. Specialising in building oil tankers, ore carriers, cargo vessels, trawlers and whalers, Canadian Lake vessels and timber carriers. Also install all types of turbines, diesel and steam reciprocating engines. 5,000 employees.

1965 The yard modified a number of oil exploration rigs, one of which Ocean Prince broke form its moorings due to high wind and blew down river for two miles colliding with tankers and bringing down power lines.

1966 The yard was sold to Swan Hunter with the yard becoming part of the Swan Hunter Group later in the same year.

1970s The yard started building partly refrigerated ships, and made a total of 15 such vessels in the 1970s. In the late 70s the yard was a member of British Shipbuilders, and the yard had a number of difficulties with ensuring its ships met contracted service speeds. It received penalty notices on late deliveries, some of which were refused by customers because of poor speed and malfunctioning equipment on board.

1977, the yard was incorporated into the nationalised group British Shipbuilders.

1980s The yard continued manufacturing large tankers and banana ships along with the very complex oil-rig tender / anchor handling tug / diving support ship British Argyll.

1987 The yard closed. Over 900 vessels had been built between 1910 and 1987. It has been used on and off by companies specialising in North Sea Oil work. The dry docks continue to be used.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Tees built ships [1]
  2. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  3. Tees built ships [2]
  4. Tees built ships [3]
  5. Tees built ships [4]
  6. British Shipbuilding Yards. 3 vols by Norman L. Middlemiss
  7. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  8. Kelly's Directory of Durham, 1914 p660
  9. The Times, 1 August 1931