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Seaham Harbour

Seaham Iron Shipbuilding Co., Shipyard


54.838338, -1.327020

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Seaham Iron Shipbuilding Co., Edward Towers

Types built here:

Screw Steamer

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

Edward Towers

Estimated Output:


Construction Materials:




Last Updated:



NEHL - The Seaham Iron Shipbuilding Co., was a short lived yard thanks to financial mismanagement and difficulties.

The town had been without any building activity for over a decade, and was "hailed with great satisfaction" to see a trade brought back to Seaham. The site finally chosen was a curious plot next to the lifeboat house between here and the head of the north pier. As the yard was only open for a short amount of time, any trace of it had disappeared on the 1890s Ordnance Survey maps. The intention was to launch ships into the dock basin at the outer harbour known as the "Dry Sands".

The first managing director of the yard was a Richard Iliff of Sunderland and almost straight away the laying of the keel commenced in the October. There was almost no progress however - the yard wasn't fully complete and no launch incline had been constructed for any sort of seamless process. Once completed, the expectation was there would be room for 3 or 4 vessels to be worked on at the same time.

Industrial disputes were a predominant factor in their issues. Attempts to change pay patterns to fortnightly instead of weekly fostered dissent, and less than a year inn the managing director, Mr Iliff, was made redundant. He hadn't maintained proper accounts of the yard and, according to Fred Cooper's fantastic book "Shipbuilding at Seaham Harbour", he destroyed records and documentsin an effort to save face.

There were vessels in the process of being built at this time. Two were removed and finished at Knox & Co at South Hylton. The third was meant for Mr John Morrice, who arranged Mr Edward Towers of Blyth to complete his ship at the yard. He fulfilled the job, and the "Linthorpe" was completed in October 1884. It was an iron screw steamer - 88 ft in length with engines fitted by Pauliu & Co of Newcastle. This was the last vessel ever built in Seaham.

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

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Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

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