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Swan Hunter (Schlesinger Davis) Shipyard


54.985035, -1.530345

Useful Links:






Schlesinger, Davis & Co. (1865 - 1893), Swan Hunter (1897 - 2007)

Types built here:

Barque, Yacht, Screw Steamer, Dredger, Hopper Barge, Caisson, Floating Dock, Tanker, Destroyer, Passenger Liner, Cruiser, Submarine, Monitor, Icebreaker, Patrol Frigate, Dock Gates, Landing Craft, Aircraft Carrier, Frigate, Jetty, Ferry

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

Northumberland Steamship Co Ltd, Hacquoil Brothers & Co, ACA Holzapfel, Boskenna Bay Steam Ship Co Ltd, South Wales Steam Ship Co Ltd, River Tyne Commissioners, Tyne Steam Shipping Co Ltd, Leith & Montrose Shipping Co, Hopemount Shipping Co Ltd, Cuban Steamship Co Ltd, Ellerman Lines Ltd, Elder, Dempster Shipping Ltd, Cunard Steamship Co Ltd, Westminster Shipping Co Ltd, Chinese Engineering & Mining Co Ltd, Gracefield Steamship Co Ltd, Nigerian Dry Dock & Engineering Co, Khedivial Mail Steamship & Graving Dock Co Ltd, Donald Steamship Co Ltd, Great Central Railway Co, Winona Steamship Co Ltd, Westport Coal Co Ltd, Oil Tank Steamship Co Ltd, Bear Creek Oil & Shipping Co Ltd, Anglo-American Oil Co Ltd, Government of Nigeria, Western Navigation Co Ltd, Fraserburgh Harbour Commissioners, Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co Ltd, San Antonio Steamship Co Ltd, Keystone Transportation Co of Canada Ltd, Grand Trunk Pacific Development Co Ltd, British Royal Navy, Canadian Pacific Railway Co, Russian Volunteer Fleet Association, Hamburg-Amerika Linie, Eagle Oil Transport Co Ltd, Russian Government, The Shipping Controller, City Line Ltd, NV Koninklijke Hollandsche Lloyd, Indo-China Steam Navigation Co Ltd, Ontario Transportation & Pulp Co Ltd, Charente Steamship Co Ltd, Great Lakes Transportation Co Ltd, Bryron Steam Shipping Co Ltd, Paterson Steamships Ltd. Commonwealth & Dominion Line Ltd, Port of London Authority, Falklands Islands Co Ltd, Government of India, Wellington Harbour Board, Pan American Petroleum & Transport Co, Newfoundland-Canada Steamships Ltd, Quebec & Ontario Transportation Co Ltd, Ministry of War Transport, British Tanker Co Ltd, Scindia Steam Navigation Co Ltd, Government of Argentina, Burmah Oil Co, Shell, Den Norske Amerikalinje, BP Tanker Co Ltd, Union-Castle Mail SS Co Ltd, Atlantic Steam Navigation Co Ltd, Regent Petroleum Tankship Co Ltd, Esso Petroleum Co Ltd, Texaco Overseas Tankship Ltd, Royal Fleet Auxilliary, Ludlow Navigation Co Ltd, Anglomar Shipping Co Ltd, Tyne & Wear Passenger Transport Executive

Estimated Output:


Construction Materials:

Wood, Iron, Steel



Last Updated:



A yard was first established at this site by C A Schlesinger and F B Davies.

The former was previously an apprentice for Stephenson's and Davies worked at Mitchells of Walker, having worked for them in India for a number of years. It commenced operations in 1863, which sadly means it just misses the first Ordnance Survey. They produced a Barque and Yacht before moving onto iron steamers in 1865. They operated in total for 30 years and produced around 167 vessels. Their most notable is probably Kielder Castle, built in 1868 for the Northumberland Steamship Company, and worked until it was wrecked in 1882. Davies bought out his partner in the early 1880s, but later saw its demise due to a depression in the shipbuilding industry.

It closed in 1893 and lay dormant for 4 years until the adjacent Swan Hunter yard consumed this one to construct floating dry docks. The first self floating dry dock was built there in 1897, and work continued and expanded to included their most famous vessels. At this time it can be seen on the more detailed plans, featuring its own tramway network, 7 slips and a jetty.

This became the site of the famous dry dock, which dominated the riverside. It was here some of the largest and innovative vessels were built. The RMS Mauretania was built hereon behalf of Cunard thanks to a government loan, and became the most famous liner in the world in 1906. The firm continued to expand building tankers, submarines, naval vessels, passenger liners, ice breakers and aircraft carriers. This continued through to 2007, though its last couple of decades saw only ad-hoc repairs and small Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships. In 2006, Swan Hunter were put up for sale due to expensive and delayed projects which froze them out of future contracts.

The yards cranes were put up for sale and moved to the Bharati Shipyards in India. Swan Hunter still remain in a much smaller and specialised form for offshore engineering services and design. The site has been sold to Shepherd Offshore.

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

Ordnance Survey, 1917

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Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

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