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North Shields

Low Lights Shipyard

North Shields

55.008777, -1.434692

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John Hearn, James Dunn Burdis (1860 - 1870), Richard Wouldhave & William Johnson (1875 - 1885)

Types built here:

Brig, Barque, Paddle Steamer

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

Estimated Output:


Construction Materials:




Last Updated:



John Hearn's shipyard stood close to the Fish Quay at North Shields between the 1770s and the 1800s.

Hearn had already been carrying out repairs and modifications before shipbuilding. The first ship,'Happy Returns', was registered in 1781, and had completed at least another 24 vessels until 1806. According to Tynebuiltships, John's son was enrolled as an apprentice on the site, as well as his brother John. The yard gained considerable output to the point it was the highest producer of vessels on the Tyne in 1787. By the early 1800s, around 30 men worked at the shipyard.

Before the Fish Quay was extensively redeveloped, the yard was operated by James Dunn Burdis constructing small wooden paddle steamers for local merchants. He was operating for a decade from 1860 and is recorded to have built at the Low Lights. Richard Wouldhave & William Johnson are also likely to have inherited the same yard at the Low Lights. They made small paddle steamers and tugs. It's also possible Wouldhave was related to William Wouldhave, who was inventor of the lifeboat over at South Shields.

This is probably one of the last shipyards at the Low Lights before the advent of the Fish Quay.

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

Ordnance Survey, 1865

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Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

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