Above: Select the required shipbuilder by using initial letter of the surname eg: Armstrong, Palmer or Readhead.
Composite page for all the Palmer companies and yards (1852 - 1933) Above: An artist's impression of the Jarrow Industrial complex
Shipbuilder's Name Town Dates Ships Palmer Bros & Co Jarrow 1852 - 1865 143 Palmer Bros & Co Willington Quay 1860 - 1865 44 Palmers' Shipbuilding & Iron Co Jarrow 1865 - 1933 628 Palmers' Shipbuilding & Iron Co Willington Quay 1865 - 1866 11 Palmers' Shipbuilding & Iron Co Willington Quay 1882 - 1900 62 Palmers' Shipbuilding & Iron Co Hebburn 1912 - 1931 92
The Palmer company was established in Jarrow in 1851 by local industrialists Charles Mark Palmer (later Sir Charles) and his brother George Palmer. Palmer had extensive coal interests and became involved in shipbuilding with the aim of reducing the cost of transporting coal from his County Durham mines to his major market, London.
Steam power instead of sail meant more voyages per ship per year. Iron hulls instead of wood meant larger and stronger ships could be built.
The shipyard site soon expanded, with the addition of its own iron and steel mills and its own engine works. The supply of raw materials for the yard was assured by the acquisition of an iron ore mine near the North Yorkshire coast. This was one of the earliest examples of Vertical Integration in industry.
Howdon / Willington Quay
Additional berth capacity was needed so a second yard was opened in 1859 at Willington Quay on the opposite bank of the Tyne. This district was known as Howdon until a change of boundaries in the late 1800s and we have standardised on the name Willington Quay throughout. The Willington Quay yard closed in 1866, but the site was not sold and it was reopened again in 1882. It was closed for the final time in 1900.
The capacity provided by the Willington Quay yard was effectively replaced by the purchase of the former Robert Stephenson shipyard at Hebburn in 1911.
The peak and the fall
The firm continued to flourish through the First World War, but struggled during the post-war slump of the 1920s. Then the Depression of the 1930s proved to be the final straw. The steel works closed in 1931, and the shipyard followed in 1933. Jarrow was heavily dependent on Palmers, and the resultant unemployment (around 70% of the local workforce were unemployed by early 1933) led directly to the Jarrow Crusade of 1936.
The terms of sale of the yard prohibited further shipbuilding on the Jarrow site for 40 years, however the Hebburn yard was purchased by Vickers Armstrong and operated as a repair yard under the name Palmers Hebburn Ltd until 1973, when it was acquired by Swan Hunter.
Composite page for all the Palmer companies and yards (1852 - 1933)
Above: An artist's impression of the Jarrow Industrial complex