Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Images from the Once Thriving Smith's Dock; Today It's an Area of Flattened Land Next to the Tyne Lying in Wait for New Homes to Be Built. It Was Once Home to a Thriving Ship Repair Company, Smith's Dock

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Images from the Once Thriving Smith's Dock; Today It's an Area of Flattened Land Next to the Tyne Lying in Wait for New Homes to Be Built. It Was Once Home to a Thriving Ship Repair Company, Smith's Dock

Article excerpt

IT BECAME one of the largest ship repair companies in the country. Today, the riverside land on which it stood is flattened. Smith's Dock, in North Shields, was once a hive of heavy industry and provided work for thousands of skilled men.

Indeed, the company's roots go way back to the early 19th Century.

In 1810, Thomas Smith bought William Rowe's shipyard at St Peter's, in Newcastle, and went into business with his two sons as William Smith & Co.

They expanded the works to such an extent that they had to lease Laing's Dock at North Shields to cope with demand.

Later, in 1822, they opened a ballast quay at the Limekiln Shore.

Thomas Smith died in 1836 and the new company of T&W Smith bought up the Limekiln Shore in 1849, opening a dock there in 1851.

A glass-roofed shed was built over the North Shields yard and the first ship launched was the Termagent on February 21, 1852.

Control of the company came to Eustace Smith in 1882, who began a new period of expansion at North Shields in 1891, under the title of Smith's Dock Co Ltd.

After 1909, ship repair largely replaced shipbuilding at the North Shields yard.

The firm had seven dry docks. There was one large dock, three medium ones in the Bull Ring area, and two small ones. There was another small dock next to the Fish Quay, which had the nickname of Haddock Shop.

The types of vessels repaired there included cargo liners, coasters, tankers, bulk carriers, tugs, fishing boats and offshore vessels. The firm also carried out conversions and extensions.

Among the vessels that lined the site over the years were the Celtic Star, Fresno Star, Trojan Star, Christian Holm and British Courage. In 1983, the SS Uganda Hospital Ship returned from the Falklands War to be refitted into a cruise ship at Smiths Dock. …

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