H English (1836), William Cleland (1866-1872), William Cleland & Co. Ltd. (1872), Clelands Graving Dock and Slipway Co Ltd., Clelands (Shiprepairers) Ltd (1920-1932), Clelands (Successors) Ltd. (1932-1934), Craggs family (1934), Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. (1967-1977), British Shipbuilders (1977)
Types built here:
Customers (Not Exhaustive):
Wood, Iron, Steel
A shipyard stood at this spot at Willington Quay from at least 1836 until 1983.
It is likely to have been built earlier. The first named owner is H. English, but until 1866 had a number of consecutive owners. In this year, William Cleland took over the land, remaining in his name all the way through to the 1930s. Cleland was originally a Scot who had experience at the Smiths Yard as well as Palmers at Howdon. It began repairing ships, but once William Cleland passed his sons took on the construction of iron and wood vessels claiming to be "the best slipway in the North of England", capable of taking 1000 tons.
On the 1890s maps, two slipways are shown under Potter Street. During his tenure, hundreds of vessels were built here from paddle steamers to landing craft for international customers. In 1934 the yard was bought by the Craggs family, who operated shipyards at Goole, Yorkshire. They primarily built trading vessels and tug boats. Work expanded hugely through the decades, and by the early 1960s this small area employed 700 staff, incorporating their own designs and receiving orders internationally.
The yard was then sold out to Swan Hunters, becoming a small cog in the wider complex stretching from here to Walker. It became part of the small ship division, with their slipways suitable for the tugs and coasters mentioned earlier. Its last years were under the guise of British Shipbuilders.
Since shipbuilding ended here, the site has been converted for oil rig module construction and offshore drilling construction.
Ordnance Survey, 1916
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Historic Environment Records
Durham/Northumberland: Keys to the Past
Tyne and Wear: Sitelines
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