TYNE BUILT SHIPS
A history of Tyne shipbuilders and the ships that they built

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Above: Select the required shipbuilder by using initial letter of the surname eg: Armstrong, Palmer or Readhead.
KEY BELOW: D / H / P (D means basic dimensions are shown; H means a history is given; P means one or more photographs are available)


Shipbuilder: Thomas Hearn, Low Lights, North Shields (1781 - 1806)

North Shields shipwright John Hearn carried out ship repairs in 1779 and may have already been building new ships. His son Thomas was registered as an apprentice with William Carse on 30th December 1773 and duly paid his guinea on becoming a freeman in 1781. Three years later he enrolled his brother John as his first apprentice, and before the end of 1784 his second was the son of North Shields shipwright Eli Laverick.

The Happy Returns (282t) was built in 1781 at the Low Lights (separating North Shields from Tynemouth). Hearn built at least 23 vessels, more than 6000t, over the twenty years 1787-1806; the total output probably exceeded this. Almost half of these vessels were 300t or more. This yard headed the Tyne output of the vessels on Newcastle Register in 1787, with a total of 766t, the yard's largest tonnage in a single year. No ships by Hearn were registered locally in either 1789 or 1792. Probably however work was carried out in 1789 on one of the two brigs launched in 1790, with a combined tonnage of 601t. Usually one ship per year was built and the only other years exceeding an output of 500t were 1794 and 1795. The Earl Percy (269t) in 1806 was his last vessel.

In 1804, Hearn employed 30 Shipwrights, 18 of whom were apprentices, and two men were over 50 years of age. With this workforce, it is very probable that Hearn, like other shipbuilders, engaged in ship repair work and ship modifications of which no records survive. Both Thomas and Joseph Hearn were also shipowners. Six vessels in all, more than 1600t, were owned in part or whole by the family in the mid 1780s.

Above history copyright of JF Clarke

The following ships have been identified as built by Hearn:

Yd No Year Ship Name D / H / P
1781 Happy Returns
1787 Liberty
1787 Phoenix
1787 Prudent
1788 Blessing D / H
1790 Brothers
1790 Camilla
1791 Diana
1793 Good Design
1794 Malvina
1794 Wright
1795 Leander
1795 William
1796 Jane
1797 Hermes
1798 William
1799 Nancy
1800 Hearn
1801 British Hero
1802 Ceres
1803 Volga
1804 Dorothy
1805 Princess Charlotte
1806 Earl Percy
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