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Hawthorn Leslie, Shipyard


54.982553, -1.524381

Useful Links:






R.W Hawthorn, Leslie and Company Ltd. (1853 - 1968), Swan Hunter and Tyne Shipbuilders Ltd. (1968 - 1977), British Shipbuilders (1977), Cammel Lairds

Types built here:

Screw Steamer, Yacht, Paddle Steamer, Destroyer, Torpedo Boat, Hydrographic Ship, Pontoon, Ferry, Tanker, Cruiser, Landing Craft, Bulk Carrier, Liquified Gas Carrier, Dock Gate, Aircraft Carrier

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, Anglo-Australasian Steam Navigation Co Ltd, Ocean Steam Ship Co, Liverpool, Brazil & River Plate Steam Navigation Co Ltd, Russian Steam Navigation & Trading Co, Cie Genarale Transatlantique, Russian Volunteer Fleet Association, Cia Braziliana de Navegacao a Vapor, Blue Star Steam Ship Co Ltd, Great Northern Shipping Co Ltd, British Royal Navy, New Zealand Shipping Co Ltd, Eastern Carrying, Insurance, Storing & Warrant Co, Calcutta Port Commission, Commonwealth & Dominion Line Ltd, Burma Oil Co Ltd, Tyne-Tees Steam Shipping Co Ltd, Government of Egypt, Government of Argentina, Tyne Improvement Commissioners, Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co Ltd, Portuguese Navy, Ministry of War Transport, BP Tanker Co Ltd, British Railways Board, The Admiralty

Estimated Output:


Construction Materials:

Wood, Iron, Steel



Last Updated:



The Hawthorn Shipbuilding Works utilised previously sparse land on the banks of the Tyne, and is visible on the first edition of the Ordnance Survey surveyed in 1856. A fairly small building is illustrated with no formal docks, though this may be the limitations of the illustration.

It opened in 1853 under the guise of R.W. Hawthorn, Lesie and Co. Ltd, and by Leslie's retirement the yard had already produced 255 ships. A year after his retirement in 1886, it merged with Hawthorns and became Hawthorn Leslie and Co. A vast variety of vessels were constructed here such as yachts, paddle steamers, screw steamers and warships throughout the entirety of its working life. It later expanded into predominantly tankers, as well as pontoons and drydock gates. The second Ordnance Survey of the 1890s shows a dry dock in the centre of the complex, with a full network of tramways linking with Hebburn Colliery C Pit. Warships wereconstructed from 1895, with berths, slipways and cranes added to the site.

In 1968 the site became part of Swan Hunters, and a decade after was nationalised under the guise of British Shipbuilders. It was fairly dormant until for much of its life thereafter, and during ownership of Cammell Lairds it was put into receivership.

The dry dock, still extant, is one of the oldest on the river and the offices are still in situ. It is a regular victim of vandalism, though does still retain contemporary signage and a 19th century cast iron drinking fountain on the exterior.

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

Ordnance Survey, 1895

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Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

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