Blyth Dry Docks and Shipbuilding.

Blyth Dry Docks and Shipbuilding.

Postby magoonigal » Thu Sep 13, 2012 11:32 pm

The following is an attempt at detailing the History of Blyth Dry Docks and Shipbuilding. Its taken from a number of different sources and guess what? They all say something different!

SHIPBUILDERS OF BLYTH.

In 1805 Blyth boasted SIX Boat Builder’s:-

1) Manners and Bates.
2) Debord and Morrison.
3) Clark and Taylor.
4) Bowman and Drummond.
5) Wright and Co.
And
6) Davison.

In 1863 Soulsby and Hodgson bought Bowman and Drummond’s yard which included land they (Bowman and Drummond) bought when they had in turn taken over George Robinsons Yard. In addition a Dock built in 1811 by Stoveld and Company also came into the fold.
In 1878 Messrs Chapman, Towers and Horne attempted to build the first Iron Ship at Blyth but this never came about and they were also taken over by Hodgson and Soulsby.
Using the land acquired from Robinson and their own land, Hodgson and Soulsby built their first two Iron ships at Blyth in 1880. These were Yard Nos 24 and 25 and are listed as Steam Hopper Barges for the Russian Government. Other 1880 completions were SPEEDWELL (1,017 Gross)
POLIS MYTELINE (1,074 Gross) and the CATALUNA (1,671 Gross).

In 1883, Blyth Shipbuilding Company was formed to take over the business of Messrs Hodgson and Soulsby. The first graving dock had been opened in 1890 and at the same time other graving docks were established on an adjoining site owned by the Blyth Dry Docks Company Ltd. In May 1884 the ROTHIEMAY (Yard No 53) was completed for Stephens and Mawson of Newcastle. Daniel Stephens, the Senior Partner placed orders for a Dozen Tramps with the Yard. He eventually purchased the Majority of the shares, becoming a Director and eventually Chairman. In 1900 the two Firms amalgamated under the new name of :- The Blyth Shipbuilding and Dry Docks Company Limited.
The Yard closed in May 1925 following the completion of the French Registered THISBE (1,782 Gross) in the April for G. Lamy and Co.
The Chairman and Majority Shareholder, Daniel Stephens was now over 80 and he died on the 19th March 1926. In November 1926 thye Yard was bought by Robert Stanley Dalgleish and the name was changed to Cowpen Dry Docks and Shipbuilding Co Ltd. Amalgamation with Ritsons Shipbuilding and Engineering followed and three building berths and ten acres of adjoining land were aquired.
The shipbuilding Yard closed in 1930, however the Repair Yard stayed open as far as I can see as on the 21st November 1932 the Yard was registered under the name, Blyth Dry Docks and Shipbuilding Company Ltd.
With War looming the Yard officially reopened in 1937 to build a large number of Boom Defence, Minesweepers and other craft for the Admiralty. I say officially reopened because Yard Number 249, BHC Barge No2 of 61 Tons Gross is recorded as being built in 1934.
At least 24 Bar Class vessels were built from 1938 onwards together with a number of Corvette’s, Minesweepers, Frigates and two LCT’s.
By 1944 the share capital had been bought by Mollers (Hong Kong) Ltd and a modernisation programme was put into place.
The Yard now boasted Four Building Berths, the longest of which was 500ft and Five Dry Docks, the Largest of which was 468 ft by 60 ft.
Further improvements took place in 1954 when the Main Building Berth was extended to 550 ft and the 12,624 Gross Tanker WILLIAM G WALKLEY was built.
By the 1960’s Orders were hard to come by and the Yard diversified into Bridge Building, Structural Steelwork and House Building.
The official closure announcement came on the 3rd August 1966.
Work continued on ship Number 395, a Collier for Stephenson Clarke Ltd and it was launched without champagne, and without a name on Thursday 24th November 1966. Fitting-out of Number 395 (ROGATE) went on and Vickers sent two ships round from the Tyne (PROTESILAUS and RADNORSHIRE) for completion in early 1967 and some of the Blyth men helped out.
In July 1967 the Auctioneer moved in and nearly all the Machinery and Equipment was sold, so ending Shipbuilding at Blyth for a while……
Paul Hood. + WSS Tyneside Branch Hon Sec.
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Re: Blyth Dry Docks and Shipbuilding.

Postby Whickham » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:04 pm

Thanks Paul, a nice potted history.

I guess this picture is the starting point, with the yard of one of your SIX maybe. A drydock and a couple of ships on the quay that look as though they might have quite a drop into the water (unless the slipways are conveniently hidden behind the ships in the water).

Docks-1850.jpg
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Re: Blyth Dry Docks and Shipbuilding.

Postby Whickham » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:38 pm

Looks like 3 berths in this shot

Slipways.jpg
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Re: Blyth Dry Docks and Shipbuilding.

Postby Whickham » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:44 pm

Re: Blyth Docks - 1850

I have found the same engraving used as the background to an advert for William John Stoveld, Shipbuilder & Repairer, Blyth Docks. The advert is such poor quality that it is not worth posting it.
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Re: Blyth Dry Docks and Shipbuilding.

Postby Whickham » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:52 pm

This photo is labelled 1 & 2 Docks. Are these the same slipways? I'm sure I have seen a map of the yard showing groups of slipways separated by drydocks. If so then these could be to the left of the previous 3 slipways.

The ship far left seems to be ELSWICK PARK which was built at Blyth in 1920.

1&2Docks.jpg
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Re: Blyth Dry Docks and Shipbuilding.

Postby Whickham » Fri Sep 14, 2012 7:04 pm

This photo shows the relative positions of the two photos above.

The first photo (of the 3 slipways and the workshops to the left) is positioned on the right of this photo.

The second photo (of the 2 docks and slipways to the left) is on the left of this photo.

Note a distinct lack of ships on any of the berths.

There were also further 3 dry docks off to the left of this photo.

33 (2).jpg
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Re: Blyth Dry Docks and Shipbuilding.

Postby magoonigal » Fri Sep 14, 2012 8:50 pm

The only record I have of Stoveld is:-

26th September 1821.

Record of Wm Shepherd building his first vessel at Blyth Dock. By this date Blyth Dock was the Property of Wm Stoveld of Petworth, Surrey.

The 'Modern' Shipyard was built at Cowpen Quay as depicted in your picture. The most likly site of Stoveld's Yard would be much nearer the Mouth of the River, probably where nos 3,4 and 5 Drydock's are now.
Paul Hood. + WSS Tyneside Branch Hon Sec.
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Re: Blyth Dry Docks and Shipbuilding.

Postby creemaster » Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:52 pm

Shipyard supplied steel for the Kitty Brewster Bridge over the River Blyth for the A189 'Spine Road' linking Blyth with Bedlington Station and Ashington and also the steel work for the three blocks of flats built by Blyth Council on Cowpen* Road and Beaumont strret which are nicknamed ' The Shipyard Flats
*Pronounced Coo pen Road not Cowpen Road as a certain local radio station might say it.

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Re: Blyth Dry Docks and Shipbuilding.

Postby LucienR » Wed Jun 07, 2017 9:43 am

Whickham wrote:Looks like 3 berths in the review of Hydromax pumps to read.

Slipways.jpg


Incredible, where did you find this pic?
Last edited by LucienR on Mon Nov 27, 2017 6:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Blyth Dry Docks and Shipbuilding.

Postby Whickham » Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:27 pm

I was given a CD with loads of old Blyth port and ships photos on it. Don't know where the originals came from.
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