Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Blackwall Shipyard

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Blackwall Shipyard (est. 1612) was founded by the East India Company for the building and repair of its ships.

Later passed into the hands of Sir Henry Johnson and his family, under whom the Perrys became involved. The yard estate included a 17th-century wet dock. Adjacent land used for storing timber and grazing allowed expansion and the sale of various parts over the years. The Perrys and Greens also lived on the site.

1708 ...Perry started to manage the shipyard.

From the mid-18th century up to 1815 Blackwall was the largest private shipyard in the world. Warships for the Navy, Indiamen and other vessels were built there.

1782 George Green, William Money and Robert Wigram came together to take over the Blackwall shipyard that built many of the East India Company vessels. Wigram and Money were very close friends and Wigram christened one of his sons Money Wigram, who in due course joined the partnership.

1789–90 To the north of the original basin, John Perry excavated the Brunswick (or Perry’s) Dock. He built its flanking 120-foot mast house – a major Thames landmark until its demolition in 1862.

1797 Perry’s two sons by his first marriage and George Green were made partners. The firm became Perry, Sons and Green.

1798 Half the business was sold to John and William Wells, junior, formerly Deptford shipbuilders, becoming Perry, Wells and Green.

1803 At John Perry’s retirement, part of the Blackwall estate was sold to the East India Dock Co. His remaining half share was sold to the Wellses.

1805 Sir Robert Wigram bought a large share and the firm became Wigram, Wells and Green.

By 1813 Sir Robert Wigram had taken over all of the Wells' interests and the company became Wigram and Green. Wigram owned half the business, his sons Money Wigram and Loftus Wigram a quarter, and Green the remaining quarter.

1819 Robert Wigram retired and sold his half of the business to the other partners.

1821 Wigram and Green launched the first steam vessel to be built at Blackwall Yard

1843 The shipbuilding partnership of Wigram and Green expired - the shipyard was divided down the middle. Money Wigram and Sons retained the western half and the Greens the eastern half, later becoming R. and H. Green and Co.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Federal Line [1]
  • Biography of Sir Robert Wigram, ODNB