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Bartram & Sons, South Dock Shipyard


54.908146, -1.356275

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Robert Appleby Bartram, George Haswell (Bartram, Haswell & Co.), George Bartram, William Bartram (Bartram & Sons), Austin and Pickersgill (A&P)

Types built here:

Brig, Screw Steamer, Barque, Tanker, Patrol Boat, Tramp, Repair Ship, Coaster, Bulk Carrier, Ferry

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

St Andrews SS Co., Nautilus SS Co., Brittanic SS Co., Howard SS Co., Ludgate SS Co., Dunlop Steamship Co., Manhanset SS Co., Kirkdake SS Co., Neptune Steam Navigation Co., British & South American Steam Navigation Co., Hogarth Shipping Co., Mercantile Steamship Co., Orpheus Shipping Co., South Wales SS Co., Dowgate Steamship Co., London Exchange SS Co., Manoravon Steamship Co., Cambrian Steam Navigation Co., Royal Mail Steam Packet Co., Russian Volunteer Fleet, The Shipping Controller, Hindustan SS Co., The Admiralty, Clan Line, Lloyd Royal Belge SA, Garland Steamship Corp., Picton SS Co., Clarisa Radcliffe SS Co., West Wales SS Co., National SS Co. Putney Hill SS Co., Ministry of War Transport, Reardon Smith Line, Royal Navy, British India Steam Navigation Co., Government of Argentina, Cia. Nacional de Nav, Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Lamport & Holt Line Ltd., Rederi A/B Wallenco, Monarch SS Co., West African SS Co., Court Line, Houlder Line, North Shipping Co. Ltd., Marine Enterprises Ltd., Silver Line, Salient Shipping Co., Charlton SS Co., Ropner Shipping Co., New Zealand Shipping Co., Louis Dreyfus & Co Ltd., Montship Lines Ltd., Oregon SS Co., A/S Bornholmsfaergen af 1962, Blue Star Line, National Shipping Corporation (Pakistan), Trans Oceanic SS Co., Alafouzos Shipping Co., Naxos Shipping Corp.

Estimated Output:


Construction Materials:

Wood, Iron, Steel



Last Updated:



The Bartram dynasty settled at this piece of land at South Dock after operating at North Hylton for over 30 years. George Bartram originally founded the works, but was taken on by his son Robert Appleby Bartram after retirement. He moved the business here with George Haswell, and began building iron cargo vessels for local and national merchants. They took on earlier shipyard, which is shown on the Ordnance Survey map of 1859.

The first ship built here was Ardmore in June 1872, an iron screw steamer for Ross & Co of Liverpool. Though this marked a step forward in modern vessels, they still constructed a few sailing vessels, some of timber. The reputation that followed them was one of building high quality cargo vessels and tankers, so much of their work thereafter focused on this.

George Haswell retired in 1890. At this time, Robert Bartram's sons George & William joined the business for it to become Bartram & Sons. The shipyard is shown on the 1890s maps between the Hudson Dock saw mills and the North East Pier, north of the Sea Lock. It was connected to the vast tramway system, and ships were built on berths rather than a dock at this time.

Work continued on merchant ships, though also did work for international governments and the Royal Mail. During WWI they constructed patrol boats and cargo ships for The Admiralty. Only a few years later in 1925, Robert Bartram passed away at the age of 90, leaving his sons to run the business who continued until 1968. The yard saw struggles in the late 1920s due to the Great Depression, and had no order for 6 years. Newspaper articles from this time reflect on the machinery being obsolete in comparison to foreign shipyards and that it was "about time" shipyards like Bartram's were sold up.

WWII, like many shipyards, was a pivotal turning point for the shipyard. They produced 24 ships for the Royal Navy and various merchants, and the increase in demand led to a new berth and new sheds and electric cranes. By 1952, the size of the yard increased by a fifth, with berths expanded furthermore and the introduction of travelling cranes. 85 ships were built between 1946 and 1967.

In 1965 after the Geddes report, A&P acquired the Bartram works and built 54 ships until closure in 1978, The yard was subsequently demolished and used as storage by the Port of Sunderland.

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

Ordnance Survey, 1897

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Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

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