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Tyne and Wear HER(2763): Southwick, Southwick Yard (John Candlish, Robert Thompson) - Details

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Southwick, Southwick Yard (John Candlish, Robert Thompson)




Marine Construction Site


Early Modern


Documentary Evidence

John Candlish set up a timber shipbuilding yard with a patent slipway for repairs on the north bank of the River Wear at Southwick some time before 1850. In 1854, the yard was bought by Robert Thompson junior for the Thompson family’s North Shore Yard (HER ref. 2722). The first ship built by Thompson was the Graces, launched in 1855, and the yard was responsible for a further 21 wooden ships before a conversion to composite iron and timber construction in 1865 (the first of these vessels was the Southwick). Features shown on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map (surveyed in 1855) include three cranes along the riverside and a sawpit; the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1898 shows considerable change, with the patent slipway replaced by a graving dock and the sawmill to the east replaced with a more substantial structure. The yard became Robert Thompson & Sons in 1881, and in the same year it launched 12 vessels from its four berths, placing it third in order of annual output on the Wear. In 1901, the yard was extended and updated and the business became a limited liability company in 1906. Robert Thompson died in 1910. The yard produced 10 ships (all tramps) during WW1 as well as two patrol vessels and nine barges for the Admiralty. Twenty eight further tramps were then completed between 1920 and the closure of the yard in 1930. The yard re-opened in 1931 to build two trawlers, but these were the last of a total of 341 vessels produced by the Southwick Yard. The site was purchased by National Shipbuilders security Ltd. in 1933 and demolished, leaving few traces.




<< HER 2763 >> 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.W. Smith & T.S. Holden, 1953, Where Ships Are Born - Sunderland F.C. Bowen, 1951, Robert Thompson & Sons, Sunderland Shipbuilding and Shipping Record, LXXVII

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