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North Sands, Austin Yard


54.912454, -1.371293

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Peter Austin

Types built here:

Snow, Schooner

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

Estimated Output:


Construction Materials:




Last Updated:



The Austin family have deep maritime links to Sunderland. Their name is not necessarily known for this site, but this is where the family begun building ships on the river.

Peter Austin opened the first yard in 1826. I've not been able to find whether Austin was born in Sunderland, however he was certainly here in the 1800s as he went into partnership with Samuel Moore at the Wear Pottery in Southwick. By the 1820s, a plot of land was sought to construct a repair yard on the North Sands, around the Potato Garth area now consumed by the National Glass Centre and residential development.

Austin constructed a repair slipway hauled by capstans worked by horses, who would each be attached and circle round like a gin gang. This specific slipway appears to have been demolished by the 1850s, presumably redeveloped by Robert Thompson who appears to have claimed this site in 1846.

This yard was always predominantly for repairing, and only ever built a few ships here. There were at least 3 constructed in the early 1830s for general cargo. In later times, this yard would be consumed by the Thompson yard which amalgamated this whole area - around 7 shipyards included. Thompson's Yard will be covered in a separate entry. Before this, the site may be the one bought by the Crown family, later known as the Strand Shipbuilding Yard.

Peter Austin retired in 1846, with his son also named Peter crossing the river to the Wear Dockyard ( where shipbuilding would be the primary concern.

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

Ordnance Survey, 1859

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Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

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