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Wapping Street

Hepple Shipyard

South Shields

55.001450, -1.439868

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Hepple & Co. (1873 - 1924), Brigham & Cowan (1924 - 1982), British Shipbuilders

Types built here:

Screw Steamer, Drifter, Lighter, Barge, Tug, Yacht, Trawler, Steam Launch, Hopper

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

Gravesend Pilots, Glen Coasters Ltd, SA Cemento Portland d'Adriatico, Federal Malay States Railways, West African Lighterage & Transport Co Ltd, War Office, Ferrum Steamship Co Ltd, County of Cornwall Shipping Co Ltd, Cooke's Explosives Ltd, River Tyne Port Sanitary Authority, River Wear Commissioners, Government of Cuba

Estimated Output:


Construction Materials:

Wood, Iron



Last Updated:



Hepple's yard was situated on Wapping Street - on the west side of the Lawe.

Hepple had already been operating at Coble Dene in North Shields as well as Low Walker, constructing tug boats and their engines. His sons were also involved in the business. Thomas passed in 1872 and the Low Walker yard was sold to Wigham Richardson. His son William moved to Wapping Street from 1872, where he continued to construct his fathers goods.

The Fawcus slipway was bought (This must have been a repair or stabling facility) adjacent, which provided extra capacity to construct tugs and fit them with engines. This was one of the first yards to construct ocean viable tugs, and as a result received many orders from the colonies as it was possible to ship them long distance.

At a later point in the 1890s, Hepple bought the adjacent Stainton's Foundry and built a reputation constructing fishing trawlers as well as tugs. The yard can be seen before and after its expansion on the 1890s maps - The disused Tyneside Engineering Works and Low Brewery were demolished to construct 2 new graving docks with travelling cranes. In turn his son Thomas was involved in the company and became joint managing directors before his death at the age of 63. The yard had two berths, one 100ft and another 150ft concentrated solely on ship repairing until it closed in 1923. From thereon it was sold to its neighbours Brigham & Cowan in 1924.

The extremity of the southernmost dock can still be seen today, though much of it has been infilled.

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

Ordnance Survey, 1947

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Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

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