John Wigham Richardson Ltd. (1861 - 1903), Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. (1903 - 1963), Swan Hunter Ltd. (-1986)
Types built here:
Customers (Not Exhaustive):
Wood, Iron, Steel
John Wigham Richardson opened the Neptune Yard in 1860 with family funds, after gaining considerable expertise working for Hawthorns over the river.
When the yard opened it employed around 200 people, with had an output of 2000 tons of ships. The yard became known for its train ferry production, with the first for the Prussian Government in 1865 leading to a notable reputation for their more specialist ships. This continued through to the mid 20th century.
The shipyard in the 1850s can be seen on the Ordnance Survey map as relatively modest, with at least 3 slips and a number of furnaces - iron ships were built at this time. Output continued to grow through the 1870s and 1880s, though a depression meant output stunted and did not rise again until 1896, in the twilight years of the sole Richardson ownership. By 1889 the yard had produced at least 178 ships to at least 60 different customers across the world, including passenger companies, merchants and sovereign governments.
In 1903 the yard was merged with Swan Hunter who were already a dominant force at this part of the river. Upgrades ensued, and became one of the most dominant shipbuilding forces in the world. Most types of vessels were built here for military, leisure and merchant purposes, including the first oceangoing oil-tank steamer. Production eventually dwindled into the 70s and 80s, with some of the last vessels constructed being cable ships.
The site is now occupied by Shepherd Offshore, but remnants of the shipyard can be seen on the riverside.
Ordnance Survey, 1947
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Historic Environment Records
Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past
Tyne and Wear: Sitelines
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