Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Irvine and Co

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Irvine and Co, shipbuilders, of Hartlepool

1864 Robert Irvine had begun shipbuilding with Alexander Currie in a partnership Irvine Currie and Co.

Irvine leased the harbour dockyard of the West Hartlepool Harbour and Railway Co which had amalgamated with the North Eastern Railway

1866 The partnership ended; Irvine kept the shipyard, trading as R. Irvine and Company (from 1866 to 1880). Here he repaired old ships, later building new ones; a dry dock was constructed.

1870 First new ship launched, the Fuh-Le.

1872 Irvine and Co, Harbour Graving Dockyard[1].

1887 Robert Irvine retired, leaving his son, also called Robert Irvine, to run the business of Irvine and Co[2]. From this time all new vessels built at the yard were made from steel.

1897 Christopher Furness took over the firm, renaming it Irvine's Shipbuilding and Dry Docks Co Ltd. Robert Irvine’s son, David, was appointed managing director. Repair work continued to be the main source of business.

1909 Irvine’s was joined with one of Furness’ other business, the shipbuilders Furness, Withy and Co at Middleton.

1910 Christopher Furness died in 1910. His nephew, Stephen, ran the business until his own death in 1914. Christopher Furness' son, Marmaduke, now took over.

1919 the Furness' sold their shares in the company, although the new owners kept the same name.

By the early 1920s the country was in the grip of an economic depression. Orders for ships were almost impossible to find, and Irvine's were unable to continue.

1925 The shipyards closed, when the company went bankrupt.

1930 Company in liquidation.

1930 One yard was re-opened, when some local businessmen formed a syndicate to purchase it. This new firm was called Irvine's Ship-building and Dry Docks Company (1930) Ltd. They mainly worked on ship repairing, and on breaking up old ships for salvage. I

1938 the yard was bought out by the National Shipbuilders Security Corporation. Their aim was to close down some of the country's shipyards as there were not enough orders to go around, so helping to ensure that the remainder could survive. Irvine's was closed down for the final time, and the yards were used by other shipbuilders. The Port Authority maintained the assets which were of use during WW2.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Commercial Directory and Shippers Guide, 1872
  2. The London Gazette 28 February 1890
  • Port Cities Web Site (archived copy)[1]
  • Hartlepool Built [2]