Amble Ferro Concrete Co Ltd. (1918 - 1920), Palmers Shipbuilding & Iron Company, Amble Shipbuilding Co Ltd. (1920 - 1926)
Types built here:
Customers (Not Exhaustive):
The shipyard located at The Braid in Amble was first established as the Amble Ferro Concrete Co to produce concrete tugs for the Admiralty in 1918. The construction of the yard is referenced in the Liverpool Journal of Commerce in April 1918.
It notes up to 100 men and lads were hard at work preparing the ground, and that the yard was being built to satisfy huge demand for shipbuilding output in England at the time. It was also expected to induce a period of prosperity in the town with a whole new industry coming into town. Advertisements can also be seen in newspapers across the region - One such could be found in the Morpeth Herald of 15/03/1918 seeking labourers, carpenters, steel benders & liners. They were clearly expecting it to be a roaring business.
Ferro-concrete was likely used because of the availability of materials, and followed a trend of ferro-concrete tugs being constructed after orders from the Ministry of Shipping. It was as part of a government programme to open new shipyards and create the largest fleet of concrete vessels globally. The programme envisioned 154 vessels at a cost of £4 million.
The Amble Ferro Concrete Co exploited this, producing two tugs under the programme. They were named Cretebow and Cretestem (All British concrete vessels were named 'Crete...'), and were steam powered with engines from the Central Marine Engineering Works in Hartlepool. The launch of their first vessel saw a crowd of 3,000 people, with the wife of one of the directors Mrs Purdie performing the ceremony.
These vessels were the only ones produced by the original company, as in 1920 a subsidiary of the Palmer Shipbuilding & Iron Company bought out the yard. The subsidiary was named the Amble Shipbuilding Company, and started modernising the complex to build steel vessels instead. The keel for the first steel vessel built at the yard was built in the latter half of 1920, intended for the Corporation of Jarrow for use as a ferry on the Tyne.
It was at this time the Ordnance Survey produced their 1920s edition. The yard can be seen in the north west of the town, featuring a slip and small internal tramway network to transport materials from a landing stage to the yard.
In 1921, five vessels were built altogether. This includes the aforementioned ferry, but also two tugs and two barges all constructed of steel for various companies internationally. It appears work ceased in 1922 and 1923, which may be in relation to the shipbuilding depression in the early 1920s which harmed many yards across the country, and accelerated the closure of a few including Ritson's at Blyth. Likely thanks to its parent company it stayed afloat.
From 1924, further orders were sought for screw steamers, namely barges and pilot vessels for oil companies and the Swansea Pilot Boat Co. The company were still doing reasonably well by 1926, given they donated £2, 18s, 6d to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, however work appears to have ceased again in this year. The year before one vessel equating to 143 tons of work was completed, but after 1926 there is no further mention of work completed at the yard.
There is little information thereafter, though the books appear to have remained open until 1948. This was the year of dissolution - potentially for pensions etc. The yard, or lack of it, can be seen on aerial imagery from 1940 and was entirely demolished by this point. This is further supported by an aerial shot from 1947, with only ruined legacy structures in situ.
Today, the area is utilised for pleasure vessels and small yachts.
Ordnance Survey, 1926
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Historic Environment Records
Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past
Tyne and Wear: Sitelines
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