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Tyne and Wear HER(4694): Sunderland, South Dock, Bartram and Sons Ltd Shipyard - Details

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Sunderland, South Dock, Bartram and Sons Ltd Shipyard




Marine Construction Site


Early Modern


Documentary Evidence

George Bartram, who had begun shipbuilding at Hylton in 1838 (originally in partnership with a John Lister and then with his son, Robert Appleby) eventually transferred his company to a yard at the South Docks in 1871. Soon after, a new partnership was formed between his son, Robert, and a George Haswell. Bartram, Haswell & Co. launched their first ship, Ardmore, in June 1872. Although still building sailing and timber vessels, the yard concentrated on iron construction, and became builders of high-class cargo vessels and tankers. George Haswell retired in 1890 and Robert Bartram’s sons, George and William, joined the company as partners the yard becoming Bartram and Sons. It was formed into a limited company in 1922. Robert Bartram died in 1925 aged 90, outliving both his sons. The management of the yard then passed to his grandsons, George H. Bartrum and Robert A. Bartram, the latter remaining in charge of the yard until 1968. At the turn of the twentieth century the yard had an annual output of 18,530 tons. During WW1, twelve ships, totalling 41,658 tons were constructed, mostly to private order. Only one ship was built between 1930 and 1936, the Eskdene in 1934. WW2 saw the yard produce 24 ships, the most productive year being 1943. The increase in demand for ships required the construction of a new berth and new platers’ and welders’ sheds were installed, along with new 15-ton electric jib cranes. Demand for shipping continued after WW2, and in 1952 the area of the yard was increased by one fifth, including the extension of one berth by 30 feet and the introduction of rail cranes that could accommodate larger ships. A total of 85 ships was built between 1946 and 1967. In 1964, the Short Brothers yard at Pallion was closed and Bartram’s purchased their fitting out quay. From that time, all post-launch fitting out was carried out at the Pallion Quay. In 1965, Bartram and Sons was acquired by Pickersgill Ltd of Southwick (R A Bartram remained at the yard until retirement in 1971). Under Pickersgill’s, Bartram’s built 54 SD14 cargo ships until the yard was finally closed in 1978. Bartram’s Yard was subsequently demolished, and the empty site used for container storage by the Port of Sunderland Authority.




<< HER 4694 >> The Archaeological Practice, 2002, Shipbuilding on Tyne and Wear - Prehistory to Present. Tyne & Wear Historic Environment Record; York Archaeological Trust, 2009, Hudson Dock East, Barrack St, Sunderland - Archaeological Assessment

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