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Palmers Shipbuilding Works


54.985600, -1.493904

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Palmers Shipbuilding & Iron Co. Ltd. (1852 - 1933) Palmers Hebburn Co. Ltd. (1934 - 1973) National Shipbuilders Security Ltd.

Types built here:

Screw Steamer, Troopship, Paddle Steamer, Yacht, Ferry, Gunboat, Tug, Torpedo Boat, Barque, Hopper Barge, Water Boat, Tanker, Destroyer, Battleship, Submarine, Monitor

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

British Royal Navy, Liverpool & Great Western Steamship Co Ltd, Cork Steam Ship Co Ltd, Northfleet Coal & Ballast Co Ltd, Soc Anon de Navigation Belge-Americaine, Central Sugar Co, India, Eastern & Australian Mail Steamship Co Ltd, B Estenger y Cia, Santiago de Cuba, British Government, Labarrouere Steam Ship Co Ltd, D'Orbigny & Faustin fils, St Germans Steam Ship Co Ltd, Abertawe Steamship Co Ltd, Panama Canal Co, Victoria Steamboat Association Ltd, American Petroleum Co, Sun Shipping Co Ltd, Manchester Liners Ltd, Hamburg-Amerika Linie, Northern Steamship Co, Tyne-Tees Steam Shipping Co Ltd, The Shipping Controller, British Tanker Co Ltd

Estimated Output:


Construction Materials:

Wood, Iron, Steel



Last Updated:



The shipyard which became Palmers Jarrow was initally a wood building yard, though it is not known who the owner was at this time. It was subsumed into Palmers in the early 1850s, and was converted into a yard devoted to building iron ships.

Though the yard focused on colliers and screw steamers, almost every vessel imaginable was built here including troopships, destroyers, submarines and yachts. The 1890s maps show an huge and expansive complex filled with miles of tramway and sidings. It was entirely self sufficient, with every section of the supply chain on site, from the extraction of ore from the Palmers' ironstone mines in North Yorkshire to the finished product at the end of the line.

There was an engine builders here too, established in 1853 and 1857. The Bede Metals Co nearby was established in 1862 which supplied copper to the shipyard. It was the only shipyard in the coutnry in the 1860s where this was done. In 1906, the famous electric overhead trolley cranes were constructed, found on elliptical gantries providing a more efficient and condusive construction process.

By 1933 the site was closed and acquired by National Shipbuilders Security Ltd. The dry dock was retained by Palmers Hebburn Ltd, owned by Vickers Armstrong.

These days there is little indicator of the shipyard apart from the remnants on the river side. The mouth of the slipway, graving docks and the older mid 19th century slips can still be seen. The modern photo below is a helpful navigator for what can still be found.

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

Ordnance Survey, 1917

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Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

HER information as described above is reproduced under the basis the resource is free of charge for education use. It is not altered unless there are grammatical errors. 


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