Low Walker Shipyard
Charles Mitchell & Co. (1853 - 1882), Sir W G Armstrong, Mitchell & Co. Ltd. (1882 - 1897), Armstrong, Whitworth & Co Ltd. (1897 - 1931)
Types built here:
Customers (Not Exhaustive):
Wood, Iron, Steel
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.
Ordnance Survey, 1947
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Historic Environment Records
Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past
Tyne and Wear: Sitelines
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