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High Pans

High Pans, Shipyard

North Blyth

55.136607, -1.515541

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Henry Debord (1798 - 1813)

Types built here:

Brigantine, Snow, Brig

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

Estimated Output:


Construction Materials:




Last Updated:



Henry Debord is known to have owned a shipyard at the High Pans, North Blyth from 1798. This is recorded by John Wallace in his book "A History of Blyth", noting Debord also previously worked with a Mr Morrison at South Blyth near the Link End.

Debord was born at Elvet Durham and married at Monkwearmouth, meaning he may have prior experience in shipbuilding in Sunderland and moved to Blyth to establish a building presence. He had a number of children including a Henry who is buried at St Marys in Blyth.

It was situated at the High Pans, which was previously the site of some of the town's salt pans, forming an industry which was the staple of the economy for the centuries. Blyth was also the start of the Salters Road down to Newcastle through Seaton Sluice. The settlement stood just north of where the High Ferry landing was later situated, and formed a couple of terraced buildings and a pub - the Brown Bear Inn in the 1850s.

The exact location was "at the north ballast crane". The Ordnance Survey surveyed in 1859 provides a clue as a crane is constructed to the north of the Brown Bear Inn with a small heap just over the lane from it. As a result, we can conclude the yard is located here. The ballast was likely waste brought up from over ports after exporting coal.

Henry had certainly built at least half a dozen ships, so it can be assumed least double were constructed here. Brigantines formed the core of Debord's output from 1800 to 1811, with snows and brigs also being constructed here. The last confirmed ship completed here is the snow "Salamander" in 1811. Debord died in 1813 and is buried at Bamburgh. He likely ceased operating at the yard in this first couple months of that year or the year prior.

The High Pans settlement was totally demolished and later replaced with the Battleship Wharf and the Cambois staith sidings so it is incredibly unlikely any trace would be found. There are also no known pictures, as far as I am aware, of the High Pans before the staiths were constructed.

Thank you to Richard (@rp6805) for assisting with the location of the yard and additional information on the life of Debord.

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

Ordnance Survey, 1865

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