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Pilot Street

Sand End, Shipyard

South Shields

55.006813, -1.429533

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James Evans (1791 - 1820) Philip Laing (1822 - 1832), Thomas William Wawn (1846 -1852) John Readhead (1864 - 1872) John Softley (1864 - 1875)

Types built here:

Snow, Schooner, Brigantine, Barque, Paddle Steamer, Screw Steamer

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

Middlesbrough-on-Tees Steam Towing Co, King's Lynn Steam Ship Co

Estimated Output:


Construction Materials:

Wood, Iron



Last Updated:



The yard at Sand End, the far eastern edge of the Pilot Street, has a complicated history like many of the yards on Pilot Street.

Pilot Street was the "nursery of shipbuilding" in the town, with many different owners, amalgamations and absorbsions. This yard was definitely in use by 1788 under the helm of James Evans. Evans produced a number of Brigantines and Snows, though his output fell after the war of 1812 and put the yard up for sale in 1818. It doesn't appear there was any sale until 1820.

From around 1822, Philip Laing (one of the wider partnership from Thrift Street) set up shop here after breaking away from the other Laing's. There are just two references to this yard and only one about a vessel. This was in 1829 for the proposed sale of a ship, and a description of the yard in 1830. It featured a patent slipway as well as two extensive parcels of ground to the east of the slip.

Little else is known on the yard for the next few decades, but it likely was operated by Andrew Woodhouse. He produced small tugs and paddle steamers from 1835 until the 1860s for various regional companies and figures. Though Woodhouse may have operated here, it was certainly the yard of Thomas Wawn for at least 6 years, as per an illustration of the yard with the Lawe in the background. Wawn was born at Sunderland and apprenticed to Forsyth at Thrift Street. He took on a "small shipyard at the Lawe in 1846" but folded due to bank failure in 1852.

Though again it can't be certain he operated from this yard, Woodhouse's ownership fits in neatly between Laing and John Softley & John Readhead, who set up shop here for a couple of years after leaving their previous yard in 1865. Readhead split off in 1872 leaving this solely Softley's yard. He produced at least 3 iron steamers from this partnership here until he found himself in financial difficulties and was declared bankrupt in 1875.

By the 1890s the slipways and shipyards on Pilot Street had been extensively redeveloped with part of the land becoming oil depots and the Commissioners Staiths. Therefore, any trace of the shipyard likely vanished at this time.

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

Ordnance Survey, 1857

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Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

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