Swan Hunter (Schlesinger Davis) Shipyard
Schlesinger, Davis & Co. (1865 - 1893), Swan Hunter (1897 - 2007)
Types built here:
Customers (Not Exhaustive):
Wood, Iron, Steel
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.
Ordnance Survey, 1917
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Historic Environment Records
Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past
Tyne and Wear: Sitelines
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