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Todd's Shipyard

Berwick upon Tweed

55.766746, -2.010002

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Joseph Todd, John Robertson, John Miller Dickson

Types built here:

Brig, Cruiser, Sloop, Brigantine

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

Royal Navy

Estimated Output:


Construction Materials:




Last Updated:



Todd's Shipyard was situated on the southern end of the Tweedmouth side of Berwick Bridge, in an enclosed rectangular yard much smaller than the reclaimed area seen today.

It was leased to Joseph Todd who was the eldest son of Richard John, Burgess of Berwick. The Todd's were one of the more influential families in Berwick, with the family taking up a number of positions in Berwick's governance. The Todd's are also known in the wider Borders area.

The Corporation of Berwick granted Joseph, alongside his partners John Robertson and John Miller Dickson, the quarter acre site on a 21 year lease for an annual rent of £15. This area of the Tweed was already used for ship repair.

Work commenced immediately at the yard. The hull of the Brig 'Jamaica' was nearly completed by January 1800 at a weight of 235 tons. It was built for the coal and baltic trades, and was advertised in the region for "a moderate price".

The most famous of the ships built in the yard were HMS Forward and HMS Rover, completed in 1805 and 1808 respectively. They were two warships built for the Royal Navy according to designs by John Henslow and William Rule.

Forward was a Archer-class brig which took part in "The Gunboat War" in Scandinavian waters, and was later present off the Gulf coast during the Wat of 1812. It was sold for breaking up in 1815 for £600.

HMS Rover was a cruiser bridge with a crew of 111 and much larger than Forward. She served across Europe and North America, and also took part in the Gunboat War. Rover did survive much longer though. She lay unused between 1815 and 1828, becoming a whaler until around 1848.

The yard was in operation until around 1808. Notices had already been applied in 1807 for Joseph Todd's bankruptcy. This included a sloop built at the yard name "Thomas and Jane" for the corn trade, a brigantine still located at the yard, several tons of hemp and rope and utensils at his own ropery in Tweedmouth. His partners had left the business around this time which may have triggered the bankruptcy. By 1810, Todd had emigrated to America for a new life.

The interesting question posed is that this doesn't appear to be the end of the boat builders yard in this location. In a map survey of 1852, the boatbuilders yard is still illustrated as such, with includes the slip, a weight machine and a workshop. It is still noted as a boatbuilders into the 1860s, so it is undeniable it continued to be in use until this decade at least informally by local fishermen whose depot was adjacent. The slipway was located next to Berwick Bridge.

By the 1890s the yard was fully redeveloped.

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

Ordnance Survey, 1855

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Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

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