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Tyne and Wear HER(2864): Bishopwearmouth, Wear Dockyard - S.P. Austin and Son Ltd - Details

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Bishopwearmouth, Wear Dockyard - S.P. Austin and Son Ltd




Marine Construction Site


Early Modern


Documentary Evidence

In 1846, Peter Austin moved his shiprepairing business on the North Sands to the south bank of the Wear at Bishopwearmouth Panns, a little way to the east of Wearmouth Bridge, and put it under the control of his son, Samuel. Two building berths were established on the new yard soon after the move, and a patent slipway was also installed, probably the first on the river. In 1860, the company began trading as S P Austin and Son. Wood building ceased in 1869 and iron construction commenced in 1874 after a four year construction gap. A 300 feet long graving dock was completed in the yard in 1870, and the next year Hutchinson’s Yard, immediately downstream, was acquired (HER ref. No.2865), and eventually all the land as far as the Scotia Engine Works. Three new slipways for the construction of colliers were installed in the yard between 1870 and 1890, each capable of taking vessels up to 3000 tons dwt. S P Austin & Son Ltd. was incorporated as a limited liability company in 1896. Land towards Monkwearmouth Bridge was purchased in 1897 and used to house a repair shop and offices. A pontoon capable of accommodating 400-feet ships was added to the yard in 1903. The yard concentrated on the construction of colliers. The Depression reduced output at the yard almost to nothing; and only two colliers were launched in 1932 (the only launches on the Wear for that year). The yard survived, despite brief closure in 1934, and produced 26 colliers during WWII. Austin’s Yard merged with Pickersgill’s Southwick Yard in 1954 (HER ref. No. 2771), when the company Austin and Pickersgill was formed. The yard closed in 1964. Other than a graving dock of 1870 and fragments of valley side and riverside walls, almost all other evidence for the yard had gone by the late 20th century.




<< HER 2864 >> 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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