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Howdon Dock


54.989437, -1.485712

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Francis Hurry, Charles Smith, Straker & Love, Thomas Turnbull

Types built here:

Snow, Brigantine, Barque, Schooner, Brig

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

Port of Newcastle General Shipping Co

Estimated Output:


Construction Materials:




Last Updated:



The history of Howdon Dock is a complicated and difficult one to research.

It was built and operated as part of the Hurry Shipyard, which owned 800ft of riverside at Howdon Pans and had slips beyond the River Police Station. It was one of the largest yards on the 18th century Tyne with the large gracing dock constructed in early 1759. Four other slipways, a double dry dock, a quay, ropery and sailmaking loft were all found between the two yards. Repair work was also undertaken here.

Between 1878 and 1799 the Hurry yards constructed a quarter of all the tonnage built on the rover. In 1804, the two shipyards employed 266 shipwrights which made it the largest in Britain and therefore likely the world. He primarily constructed merchant ships for the coal industry, which traded with the Baltic and to London.

The Hurry's went into bankruptcy in 1806 and shipbuilding ceased in 1811. The dock remained in use though. In the 1820s it may have been the yard of Robert Hudson who constructed sailing vessels at Howdon, but we can be certain Charles Smith made use of the dock in the 1830s. His first ship is noted in 1831, the "William Burton". From there he produced around 10 other ships for various merchants until it was utilised by Straker. Straker had various accomplices and used a number of different locations for his shipbuilding. South Shields was his most predominant from the 1810s, but Howdon Dock was in use from 1840 until 1846. They were known industrialists, also operating collieries and brickworks around Willington and County Durham from the 1840s. They operated at the dock until 1846.

After this point it was likely home to the shipyard of Thomas Turnbull, who constructed as least one coal ship called the Jane & Nary, which operated in the coal trade to London and the Baltic. From the 1850s, the site was redeveloped as the yard for the Tyne Improvement Commissioners and no trace was left.

One of the oldest graving docks on Tyneside was no more.

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

Howdon Dock, 1864

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Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

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