A history of Tyne shipbuilders and the ships that they built


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Robert Stephenson & Co, Hebburn

Above map, dated 1912, shows the location of the yard. Map is copyright of Ordnance Survey

In the late 1890s both Armstrong Whitworth & Swan Hunter had an interest in a larger dry dock on the Tyne, but neither was prepared to commit the capital required to construct one. However, Stephenson & Co with a new and strong board interested in developing the company, felt that such a dock would be a significant asset to the company and help them gain access to the more lucrative passenger liner trade. After much discussion they placed a contract with Robert MacAlpine in March 1900 to construct the largest dock on the North East Coast, with completion planned for the end of 1902. However the contract was delayed, by amongst other things shifting sand, and was not completed until August of 1904. As completed it was 700ft long, 90ft wide (at the bottom) and 29ft deep at the entrance. The delay was ruinous to Stephenson's business plan, from which it never really recovered and by 1909 the company was in the hands of the receivers.

Above plan is courtesy of JF Clarke

The dock was only beaten in size by one on the Mersey and another at Southampton and the only one on the North East Coast which could accommodate a battleship of the largest size with all her guns. Unfortunately by 1914 Armstrong Whitworth was already building battleships 94ft wide.

Lloyd's List, Saturday, 13/08/1904