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John Punshon Denton operated a shipbuilding firm at West Hartlepool between 1839 – 1863
J. P. Denton began in business as a ship repairer.
1839 Denton took over a shipyard at Middleton, previously used by Parkin and Richardson. He started to build wooden sailing ships. His first was the Petrel. He also kept the ship-repairing business. Since most cargo was sent around the country by ship at that time, there were always wooden vessels in need of repair.
1860 Denton's built a ship for William Gray, who ran a profitable drapery business in Hartlepool.
1863 Ships were beginning to be built out of iron. Denton's final wooden ship was the Blanche, named after one of William Gray's daughters. Denton formed a partnership with Gray. Following the launch of Blanche in 1863 the company name was changed to Denton, Gray and Co. They modernised and extended their shipyard, and then began to build iron ships. Their first ship Dalhousie (later renamed the Sepia) was launched on 23rd January 1864.
1865 Denton, Gray and Co joined with shipbuilders Richardson, Duck and Co of Stockton, and marine engine builders T. Richardson and Sons. The new partnership was called Richardson, Denton, Duck and Co. Business was not good, however, and the new firm only lasted until September 1866. After this all the firms went back to their original ownership and names.
1867/8 Denton, Gray and Co expanded into larger premises, including taking over Blumer's neighbouring shipyard in 1868. This allowed them to increase their business in repairing and over-hauling ships as well as shipbuilding.
1871 The partnership ended with Denton's death. By this time the two men had gone to court over which of their sons should be allowed in the firm as partners. Since they had not signed formal contracts when they started in business, the courts were unable to reach a decision.
1872 Denton, Gray and Co, ship builders, West Hartlepool.
1874 Eventually Denton's sons left the firm, and William Gray took full control as William Gray and Co.