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North Shields, North Tyneside

John Hearn's Shipyard, North Shields

Last Updated:

21 Aug 2020

North Shields, North Tyneside

This is a


55.009036, -1.434618

Founded in 

18th Century

Current status is


Designer (if known):


Site occupied by the Fish Quay

'A shipyardfor wooden vessels on the Tyne. John Hearn was carrying out repairs in 1779 and may also by this time have already been building: The 'Happy Returns' was built in 1781. Hearn built at least 23 ships between 1787 and 1806, but the total output was probably more than this. The yard headed the Tyne output of the vessels on the Newcastle Register in 1787. The 'Earl Percy' was his last vessel in 1806. 30 shipwrights were employed in 1804, 18 of which were apprentices.'

- Sitelines

'North Shields shipwright John Hearn carried out ship repairs in 1779 and may have already been building new ships. His son Thomas was registered as an apprentice with William Carse on 30th December 1773 and duly paid his guinea on becoming a freeman in 1781. Three years later he enrolled his brother John as his first apprentice, and before the end of 1784 his second was the son of North Shields shipwright Eli Laverick.

The Happy Returns (282t) was built in 1781 at the Low Lights (separating North Shields from Tynemouth). Hearn built at least 23 vessels, more than 6000t, over the twenty years 1787-1806; the total output probably exceeded this. Almost half of these vessels were 300t or more. This yard headed the Tyne output of the vessels on Newcastle Register in 1787, with a total of 766t, the yard's largest tonnage in a single year. No ships by Hearn were registered locally in either 1789 or 1792. Probably however work was carried out in 1789 on one of the two brigs launched in 1790, with a combined tonnage of 601t. Usually one ship per year was built and the only other years exceeding an output of 500t were 1794 and 1795. The Earl Percy (269t) in 1806 was his last vessel.

In 1804, Hearn employed 30 Shipwrights, 18 of whom were apprentices, and two men were over 50 years of age. With this workforce, it is very probable that Hearn, like other shipbuilders, engaged in ship repair work and ship modifications of which no records survive. Both Thomas and Joseph Hearn were also shipowners. Six vessels in all, more than 1600t, were owned in part or whole by the family in the mid 1780s.'

Above history copyright of JF Clarke

- (a full list of ships built can be found here)

Listing Description (if available)




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