South Shields, Middle Docks
Dock and Harbour Installation
A ‘Mr Smith’s Dock’ is shown on a ‘Plan of the Low part of the Tyne’ in the late 1760s. The first mention by name of Middle Dock is from 1772, when the brig True Briton was announced for sale at ‘the Middle Dock, South Shields’. In 1774, the yard was described as containing a ‘large and commodious double dock, a spacious building yard, smiths’ shops, warehouses and all other necessary conveniences and appurtenances…’. References to ‘docks’ on the site by 1799 show it had at least two in place by that time. Wood’s map of South Shield’s of 1827 shows two owners in the Middle Dock Yard; a Mr Stoveld in the northern dock and a Mr Hall in the southern dock. In the mid-19th century the two docks were joined into one business under Hood, Henderson and Woods: the Middle Dock Co. In 1899 the Middle Dock Co. was sold and a new Middle Dock and Engineering Co. Ltd was formed. The prinicipal work of the yard was ship repairing. A third graving dock at Middle Dock was opened in 1909 and all the yard’s departments were reorganised and extended and new electric cranes installed. A fourth graving-dock was constructed between 1914 and 1917. Construction of this dock, which ran obliquely across the enlarged yard, involved the infilling of the old Metcalfe’s Dock and the demolition of much of the yard’s structures. At the time, it was the second largest graving dock on the east coast north of the Thames. After WW1, the two oldest docks in the yard were also extended and the yard considerably upgraded. The yard was employed to full capacity over WWII and the latest dock was extended in 1941 to 640 feet in length. From 1977 the Middle Dock and Engineering Company became a member of British Shipbuilders as part of the Tyne Shiprepairers Group Ltd. In 2003 many brick warehouses survived, along with a fine example of a ferro-concrete office block built in 1907. Four docks survived, crane tracks, mooring posts and steam winches.
<< HER 2345 >> 1st edition Ordnance Survey Map, c.1855, 6 inch scale, Durham, 4 John Mabbitt, 2003, Tyne and Wear Museums, Middle Docks, South Shields, Archaeological Assessment and Photographic Recording Tyne and Wear Industrial Monuments Trust, 1978, Sites of Interest in the inner Shields plan area The Archaeological Practice, 2002, Shipbuilding on Tyne and Wear - Prehistory to Present. Tyne & Wear Historic Environment Record. A.C. Flagg, 1979, The History of Shipbuilding in South Shields