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Blyth Dock


55.129618, -1.506384

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William Stoveld & Co. (1811-1843), William Stoveld (1811 - 1852) , William Shepherd, Margaret Stoveld (1852 - 1856), George Robinson (1850s - 1863), Bowman and Drummond, Joseph Hodgson & Robert Soulsby, Blyth Shipbuilding Company

Types built here:

Keel, Snow, Barque, Brig, Sloop, Schooner, Convict Ship, Hopper Barge, Screw Steamer

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

J R Kelso, Russian Government

Estimated Output:

Construction Materials:

Wood, Iron



Last Updated:



William John Stoveld, born at Petworth in Sussex and his partners built the first graving dock at Blyth in 1811, and was around the 7th shipbuilding yard at Blyth.

There are snippets of information concerning Stoveld in his first decade at the yard. Stoveld was building ships for the West India trade, though a shipment of timber to Stoveld was seized in 1811.

In the 1820s, we know Stoveld was producing coppered brigs, as a ship was named after him which took freight from Leith to New South Wales in Australia. Sloop keels were also being built here at this time out of English oak as per a sale advertisement in the Hull Advertiser of 1829. Stoveld also undertook repairs at the dock, as per an advertisement in the Norfolk Chronicle of 1820. Convict ships for the East India Company were constructed at the yard.

By 1821, part of the yard was leased from Stoveld to William Shepherd who constructed his first vessel in the same year. Shepherd continued building vessels in Blyth into the 1830s. Reference is made to this in Keys' sailing ships of the Aln and Coquet, which notes the Alnwick Packet, a schooner-brig, made by him in 1838.

By 1830, Stoveld had expanded to a yard at South Shields, which became the Middle Docks ( A piece in the Newcastle Courant of 1830 makes first reference to Stoveld owning both yards, with Blyth reserved for repairing ships at this time.

Stoveld split with his partners in 1843, and from there went solo and continued at the yard for another 9 years until his death in 1852. Upon this time, Margaret Stoveld took up the running of the shipyard.

His wife Margaret continued the trade until 1856, until she was made bankrupt. It is possible the yard fell out of favour when Mr Stoveld passed and orders dwindled. Bankruptcy notices are widespread in this yard. An auction took place at the Ridley Arms in Blyth on the 30th January 1857. A report in the Shields Gazette of 1857 details what was to be sold:

"All that extensive shipbuilding yard and graving dock, with workmen's houses, workshops, saw mills ", as well as a "newly and substantially erected dwelling house recently occupied by the said Margaret Stoveld containing ten rooms, with suitable out-offices, and the plot of ground in front".

The property was help under lease from Sir Ridley and subject to ground rent and a 38 year lease.

The yard thereon was bought entirely by George Robinson, who previously ran it in partnership with William from 1843. He operated it solely until 1863 as a fitting dock as his ships were to be built at Cowpen Quay. In this year the Robinson estate was passed to Soulsby and Hodgson, when it was under recent ownership of Bowman and Drummond. The dock was used to build iron ships, with steam hopper barges constructed for the Russian Government and other iron steamers through to 1883.

In 1883, the dock came under the ownership of the Blyth Shipbuilding Company who operated the entirety of the riverside in the years after.

'Sketches of The Coal Mines in Northumberland and Durham' T.H.Hair, published in 1844

Ordnance Survey, 1861

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Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

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