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Tyne and Wear HER(2771): Southwick, William Pickersgill and Sons Shipbuilding Yards - Details

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Southwick, William Pickersgill and Sons Shipbuilding Yards




Marine Construction Site


Early Modern


Documentary Evidence

In 1851, William Pickersgill transferred his business from the North Dock to Southwick. The Southwick Yard produced only wooden vessels for the coal trade until 1880. The last of these wooden ships, and the last constructed on the Wear, was the Coppename of 1880. The first iron ship launched from the yard was the Camargo. William Pickersgill was killed in an accident in the yard in the early 1880s, and his son, William John, took over the yard in 1887. William Pickersgill and Sons Ltd. was incorporated as a private limited liability company in 1907. During WWII, Sir John Priestman’s Yard (Castletown Yard) which lay to the north-west of Pickersgill’s yard was taken over and two new building berths were constructed. Pickersgill's East and West Yards at Southwick were divided by a ballast dump, 90 feet high and 600 feet long, known as Glasshouse Hill. This was removed to create almost 10 acres of additional land subsequent to the merger of Pickersgill's Ltd. with S P Austin's and Son in 1954 (the company becoming Austin and Pickersgill Ltd.). Three realigned building-berths were then constructed in the West Yard. In the East Yard a new quay wall was constructed and the yard opened in 1960 as an outfitting quay. In the mid-1970s, Austin and Pickersgill began to construct bulk-carriers and the yard was once again extensively developed and expanded, notably with the construction of a partially enclosed building berth. In 1977 it became a member company of British Shipbuilders, and in 1986 Austin & Pickersgill Ltd merged with Sunderland Shipbuilders Ltd. to form North East Shipbuilders Ltd. (NESL). Closure of NESL was announced in 1988 and the yard and all its facilities were demolished in 1990. The landing stage to the eastern edge of the yard, along with a tower-crane on rail lines, survived, along with some large fabrication sheds.




<< HER 2771 >> 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.

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