Published Resources Details Book

Banbury, P.
Shipbuilders of the Thames and Medway
David & Charles Ltd, Newton Abbot, UK, 1971, 336 pp

Accession No.1939


Serious shipbuilding ceased on the Thames in 1915 after four centuries of intense activity. And on the Medway today only a dribble of submarines from Chatham dockyard maintains the shipbuilding tradition. Yet there were once four royal dockyards beside the two rivers and at least a hundred and sixty private yards.

The royal yards built over a 1,000 ships. The Blackwall yard launched more than 550 between 1612 and 1901: East Indiamen. Battleships, frigates, tea clippers, mail steamers and others. Thornycrofts had completed over 400 vessels when they stopped building destroyers and torpedo boats at Chiswick in 1906. C. J. Mare and Thames Ironworks & Shipbuilding Co. Built 143 warships and 287 merchant ships at Blackwall between 1840 and 1911, and some of them were the largest in their day. Most of the early mail steamers of the Union Line were built at Deptford, many for the Royal Mail lines at Northfleet, and several Thames yards launched ships for the P&O line. The many hundreds of East Indiamen were nearly all 'River built'. In all, something like 5,000 ships were built by Thames and Medway yards from 1512 down to the present day.