Smiths Dock Company

Smiths Dock Company
Industry Shipbuilding
Fate Acquired
Successor Swan Hunter
Founded 1810
Defunct 1987
Headquarters South Bank, UK

Smiths Dock Company, Limited, often referred to simply as Smiths Dock, was a British shipbuilding company.


The company was originally established by Thomas Smith who bought William Rowe's shipyard at St. Peter's in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1810 and traded as William Smith & Co.[1] The company opened its dock in North Shields in 1851.[1] One of the first ships to be launched at the yard was the Termagent in 1852.[1] The company changed its name to Smith's Dock Co. in 1891.[1]

The company became associated with South Bank in Middlesbrough on the River Tees in Northeast England, after opening an operation there in 1907.[2] Smiths Dock increasingly concentrated its shipbuilding business at South Bank, with its North Shields Yard being used mainly for repair work (in particular oil tankers) from 1909 onwards.[3] Despite the shift of focus, The Company's headquarters remained at North Shields.

Smiths Dock built many ships that served during the Second World War, including trawlers that the Admiralty requisitioned and converted to armed trawlers of the Royal Naval Patrol Service such as HMT Amethyst, or HMT Arab, in which Lieutenant Richard Stannard (RNR) won the Victoria Cross. The yard also built Tree-class trawlers for the Royal Navy including HMT Walnut, which later became a famous refugee ship in Canada.[4] Smiths Dock are perhaps most famous for preparing the design of the Flower-class corvette, an anti-submarine convoy escort of the Second World War celebrated in the novel The Cruel Sea.

In 1966 Smith's Dock merged with Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson to form Associated Shipbuilders, later to become Swan Hunter Group.[5]

In 1968, the company completed the first British-built and owned container ship, the Manchester Challenge of 12,039 gross tons, for operation on Manchester Liners new container service to ports on the St Lawrence Seaway, Canada.[6] By 1971, the company had delivered three further ships of this design to Manchester Liners.

In 1983 to 1984 Smith Dock´s delivered two Roll-on-roll-off ships for Brazilian Owners.

The South Bank shipyard on the River Tees finally closed in February 1987.[7]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 "From bustling docks to a new community". Evening Chronicle. 13 February 2007. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  2. "The Sound of Silence". Evening Gazette. 18 April 2002. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  3. Smith's Dock Monthly. April 1924. pp. 186, 193. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. "SS Walnut 1948 - Voyaged to Freedom". Ship Statistics. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  5. "Fears for Tyneside tradition as Swan Hunter ship is towed to Govan for completion". Guardian. 15 July 2006. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  6. Stoker 1985, p. 43
  7. "Kirkleatham Museum". Retrieved 4 April 2009.
  • Stoker, Robert B. (1985), The Saga of Manchester Liners, Kinglish Ltd, ISBN 0-9507480-2-1 
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