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Tyne and Wear HER(2722): Monkwearmouth, North Sands Shipbuilding Yard - Details

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Monkwearmouth, North Sands Shipbuilding Yard




Marine Construction Site


Early Modern


Documentary Evidence

A yard was established on the North Sands by Robert Thompson, already an experienced shipbuilder, with his three sons in 1846 (his eldest son, also Robert, set up another shipbuilding concern on the Wear at Southwick at around the same time). The yard’s first iron ship, the Celsus, was launched around 1871 and in 1882, the yard achieved the highest output of any on the Wear, a position it repeated over the next few decades, and started to expand across the North Sands area, taking over several yards. This expansion included the development of Manor Quay, completed in 1884 (HER ref. No. 2733), which provided space for the fitting out and repair of vessels allowing the construction of bigger vessels at the North Sands site. By 1884, 50% of the production of the North Sands Yard was steel, and by 1888, 100%. The yard was busy during WW1 and immediately afterwards, but there was a downturn in trade in the early 1920s and stagnation over the Depression years to 1935. During WW2, the yard produced 40 vessels despite the North Sands Yard being badly damaged by German bombing in 1943. In 1954, Thompson’s became a subsidiary of Sunderland Shipbuilding, Dry Dock and Engineering Co. Ltd., subsequently the Doxford and Sunderland Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. Ltd. In 1960, the North Sands Yard was upgraded and extended (into the Crown Yard which had been purchased by Thompson’s in 1946; see HER ref. No. 2723). A major new berth was constructed along with prefabrication sheds. The last ship was launched in May 1979 and the yard was completely demolished for housing developments in 1986.




<< HER 2722 >> 1st edition Ordnance Survey Map, c.1855, 6 inch scale, Durham, 8 The Archaeological Practice, 2002, Shipbuilding on Tyne and Wear - Prehistory to Present. Tyne & Wear Historic Environment Record. J. Woods, 1827, Plan of the Town of Sunderland 2nd edition Ordnance Survey map, 1898, 6 inch to one mile scale, sheets VIII SW and SE 3rd edition Ordnance Survey map, 1921, 6 inch to one mile scale, sheets VIII SW and SE

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