Harrison's Boat Yard
William Turnbull (1867 - 1870), James Harrison (1870 - 1918), John Harrison (1870 - 1936), J&J Harrison
Types built here:
Customers (Not Exhaustive):
A boat building yard was originally set up at this site around the 1860s by a Mr William Turnbull. He made a young 12 year old James Harrison an apprentice, who later took on the yard after Turnbull experienced a period of ill health and passed away in 1870. He was only 15 at the time of his death, but took on a partnership with his brother John Harrison who became the most notable coble builders in the region. Their venture became known as J&J Harrison.
The enterprise settled at Coquet Street, and first constructed small collier brigs taking coal from Amble southwards. Radcliffe, Togston, Newburgh and Broomhill Collieries all had direct rail connections to the harbour at Amble so was a logical step. It isn't known how many were constructed, but they were certainly built of wood rather than iron.
Soon after their establishment, they gained a solid reputation as both builders and repairers. This was in part due to their favourable contact clauses of "no cure, no pay", meaning they would not expect payment if they couldn't fulfill the job.
The Harrison's also produced experimental vessels. This namely includes the Masonic - a 17ft pilot boat built in 1895, with three air tanks to keep the vessel buoyant. Tests appear to have been successful, with the experiment noted as a "triumph" by the Blyth News of 04/06/1895. It was at this time the yard was illustrated on the Ordnance Survey. Though it is not illustrated, we can see the yard, which was enclosed taking a parcel of land which sloped down into the Gut.
For the next few decades the Harrison's built "hundreds" of small cobles for the fishing industry, with their vessels found up and down the east coast even today.
James Harrison retired from the business in around 1902, and instead entered the timber import and milling trade with his eldest son. Their work probably tied in with John given the construction materials used. He sadly passed in 1919, having come down with a severe illness 4 years prior leaving a widow, two sons and a daughter. One son, F.N Harrison, had joined the Pioneers in 1914. His eldest son carried on the timber business while John continued building cobles on the Coquet.
It was in 1936 when Mr J. D Harrison sadly passed. He had been working at the yard on the day of his death, having returned home for tea and complained of not feeling well and suddenly collapsed. The Morpeth Herald of 01/05/1936 notes he was a man known by many in the area thanks to his work, while also joining Amble's cricket club and football club. His funeral had almost the whole town in attendance as well as delegates from various councils, sporting institutions and the harbour commissioners whom he was a member of. He died age 54 and left a wife and two daughters.
The yard continued into the 1980s, still operating as J&J Harrison. It appears a son of James took on the craft, with a Mr Harrison noted as the owner in 1951. They produced motor fishing cobles, as well as landing craft for the war effort during WWII. In 1951, a new boat building shed was approved at Coquet Street showing the business was still going strong.
The final mention of the yard is in 1989, when J&J Harrison's yard went into receivership. At this time, they employed 20 people with 17 going into redundancy. It was put up for sale but no buyer appears to have been sought.
The site is now Amble Boat Yard.
Ordnance Survey, 1897
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Historic Environment Records
Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past
Tyne and Wear: Sitelines
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