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SUN014

Wear

Monkwearmouth

North Dock, Blumer Shipyard

Sunderland

54.918229, -1.367660

Useful Links:

Opened:

1849

Closed:

1927

Owners:

George Booth, John Blakelock, John Blumer & Co. Ltd., Robert Pace, Colonel Arthur Robson

Types built here:

Barque, Screw Steamer, Coaster, Paddle Steamer, Gunboat, Barquentine, Floating Crane, Barge, Lighter, Tramp, Brig, Snow, Schooner

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

Ritson & Co., Mersey Steamship Co., Commercial SS Co., Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. (P&O), Blyth Shipping Co., The Admiralty, New Zealand Shipping Co., Torbay SS Co., Earl of Chester SS Co., River Wear Commissioners, SS Trafalgar Co., SS Camperdown Co., Persian Gulf Steam Ship Co., Carlton SS Co., Steam Colliers Ltd., Admiral Nelson SS Co., North Moor Steamships Ltd., Moor Line, British & South American Steam Navigation Co., William Penn Steamship Co., Astral Shipping Co., Ras SS Co., Dubac Steam Ship Co., Fenwick Shipping Co., Hurstdale Shipping Co., Whitby Steam Shipping Co., Clydebank Steamship Co., Weardale Steam Shipping Co., Northcliffe Steamship Co., Euston SS Co., Constantine & Pickering SS Co., Scholefield Steam Shipping Co., A/S Det Nordenfjeldske D/S, Century Shipping Co., Hansen Shipping Co., Lancashire Shipping Co., The Shipping Controller, Union Steamship Co, Prince Line Ltd., Stag Line Ltd., Dalgliesh SS Co.,

Estimated Output:

285

Construction Materials:

Wood, Iron, Steel

Status:

Redeveloped

Last Updated:

19/06/24

Description

Though it is undoubted shipbuilding activity took place at this site much earlier, we're aware of a yard here from 1849. This was the site, first, of George Booth's yard in partnership with John Blakelock. George was born in 1818 at Monkwearmouth, and built around 25 vessels here from 1849 until around 1853. They were all rigged timber vessels for regional merchants.

The yard itself is shown on maps surveyed in 1855, and was a small complex on Potato Garth. There was a T shaped building with what appears to be a building berth illustrated, however it is difficult to tell.

The partnership ceased in 1853 and ships stopped being built thereafter. George Booth's brother in law, John Blumer, took over the yard by 1856.

John was one of the Blumer dynasty who set up a yard on the North East coast. John was the grandson of Luke Blumer, who supported operations at the Middleton Shipyard at Hartlepool (https://www.northeastheritagelibrary.co.uk/shipbuilding-archive/har004/blumer-shipyard) - their name is scattered across the shipbuilding towns.

John commenced operations on the North Sands in the 1850s, where Thompson's was to be, when he was a very young adult around 19. When Thompson's took over the site Blumer moved to a yard in 1864 on the North Dock, and ships would be launched straight into it. It appears when Blumer went to this site, he did so in partnership with Robert Pace and Colonel Arthur Robson. Pace, either concurrently or after, was building ships at Southwick with his sons also. Arthur Robson, born in Bishopwearmouth and buried at Mere Knolls Cemetery, commanded the Durham Artillery as seen on his memorial. He supplied and financed timber for the firm from around 1865.

The yard was a fairly sizeable complex, hugging the riverbank just south of the North Dock and instead of launching through Potato Garth did so into the dock itself. This probably restricted the size of the ships they could build. This can be seen in the types they built. Industrial steamers and barque's, some passenger ships and gunboats for the Admiralty. Floating Cranes and barges also sprinkle their portfolio. Their largest was Drumcruil, a tramp 6500 dwt in size.

The yard found hard times in the decade prior to WWI, with a national freight slump reducing production here to 3 ships in 1908/09, though they picked up in the years after and constructed barges, lighters and C1 cargo ships for the Admiralty during the Great War. They also constructed an interesting steel turbo-electric vessel, with a Brush electric motor for the Lancashire Shipping Co. in 1918. Around this time, they employed up to 820 people.

The 1920s saw scarce orders throughout the decade, again perhaps due to the restrictions on size in a demanding environment. They technically closed in 1922 after the completion of Ixia, but a couple of ships remained as unfinished hulls for a few years. The Usworth launched in 1926, and the Cydonia launched in 1927. From there, shipbuilding at the North Dock ended. The yard was swiftly cleared as seen from aerial shots in 1928, with the yard repurposed as tanks for oil storage by 1942.

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

Ordnance Survey, 1897

Have we missed something, made a mistake, or have something to add? Contact us

Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

HER information as described above is reproduced under the basis the resource is free of charge for education use. It is not altered unless there are grammatical errors. 

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