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Low Walker

Low Walker Shipyard


54.973540, -1.536513

Useful Links:






Charles Mitchell & Co. (1853 - 1882), Sir W G Armstrong, Mitchell & Co. Ltd. (1882 - 1897), Armstrong, Whitworth & Co Ltd. (1897 - 1931)

Types built here:

Screw Steamer, Schooner, Barque, Barge, Paddle Steamer, Tug, Dredger, Gunboat, Floating Dock, Cable Ship, Cruiser, Tanker, Hopper, Revenue Cruiser, Train Ferry, Icebreaker, Floating Crane, Whaler

Customers (Not Exhaustive):

Hetton Coal Co, Hamburg Gas Co, Cama & Co, Bombay, North of Europe Steam Navigation Co, Earl of Durham, Russian Steam Navigation & Trading Co, East India Railway Co, Imperial Russian Navy, Australasian Steam Navigation Co, River Steamer Co Ltd, Calcutta, Intercolonial Royal Mail Steam Packet Co Ltd, Hunter River New Steam Navigation Co Ltd,London, Italian & Adriatic Steam Navigation Co Ltd, North British Steam Packet Company, Provincial Government of Southland, Nord Bergenhus amts D/S Selskab, Egyptian Sulphur Company, Council of India, Petersburg Volga Steam Navigation Co, Charles S Swan, Northumberland Steam Shipping Co Ltd, Raffaele Rubattino & Co, White Sea Steam Navigation Co, Dutch Royal Navy, Hamburg Sudamerikanische Dampf Ges, Tyne Steam Shipping Co Ltd, Det Nordenfjeldske D/S, Macahe & Compis Rail Company,Caucasus & Mercury Steam Navigation Company, General Steam Navigation Co, Dutch Government,The Admiralty, Moss Steam Ship Co Ltd, Government of China, Imperial Chinese Government, Bedouin Steam Navigation Co Ltd, Cia Espirito Santo & Caravellas, Chilean Navy, Government of Japan, Government of Italy, Government of South Australia, River Thames Steamboat Co Ltd, Darial Steam Ship Co Ltd, James Knott, Deutsch-Amerikanische Petroleum Ges, Massis Steam Navigation Co, Bear Creek Oil & Shipping Co Ltd, Riazan - Uralsk Railroad Company, Amur River Steam Navigation Co Ltd, Trans-Siberian Railroad, Royal Norwegian Navy, Shell Transport & Trading Co Ltd, Government of Russian Empire, Burmah Oil Co Ltd, Cuban Steamship Co Ltd, Bosphorus Steam Navigation Co, Lobitos Oilfields Ltd, Government of Canada, British Royal Navy, British Government, Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co Ltd, Cleeves Western Valleys Anthracite Collieries Ltd, Newfoundland Power & Paper Utilities Corporation Ltd, Royal Army Service Corps

Estimated Output:


Construction Materials:

Wood, Iron, Steel



Last Updated:



Aberdeen born Charles Mitchell set up a yard next to his former employer Coutts at Low Walker in 1852.

His first ship was Havilah, a Schooner rigged Screw Steamer in 1853. The yard is shown at this time on the Ordnance Survey of 1864, with at least 3 slips and a number of furnames as much of the work Mitchell did was in iron. In 1754 Mitchell married Ann Swan of the famous North East family, and the family were gradually introduced into the shipbuilding business. Charles and Henry oversaw parts of the business, with Henry becoming a managing partner in the Low Walker Yard.

There were vast orders for various government navies including Russia, Britain and China. There were also orders from the East India Railways and for the Suez Canal. Relationships developed with Armstrong of Elswick, and in 1867 gunboats and cruisers at the yard commenced construction, armed with Armstrong munitions.

The two companies amalgamated in 1882 to become Sir W G Armstrong, Mitchell & Co. Ltd. Their first joint venture was the Chilean Cruiser Esmerelda. Work continued on merchant ships, postal ships and passenger cruisers. Bulk oil carriers were also launched here, with the Gluckauf the first of its kind.

The company then amalgamated with Mancunian arms manufacturer Joseph Whitworth to form Sir W G Armstrong, Whitworth & Co. Ltd. From thereon predominatly tankers and merchant ships were built as well as a few train ferries and barges.

The Great Depression forced the closure of the yard in 1931, but reopened in 1942 to produce Tramps, which were effectively on demand vessels rather than those with fixed schedules. Most of these were for the Ministry of War Transport throughout WWII, though produced some cargo ships a couple years after the war. In 1946, it went into voluntary liquidation.

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

Ordnance Survey, 1947

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Historic Environment Records

Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past

Tyne and Wear: Sitelines

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