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British Industrial History

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Monmouth Shipbuilding Co

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Monmouth Shipbuilding Co. Ltd, of Chepstow were shipbuilders, and later bridge builders

The yard was an offshoot of Edward Finch and Co, who had been involved in the construction of the Great Western Railway and the famous Chepstow Railway Bridge. Finch had helped build some of the sections of the bridge; the site where he did this then evolved into a railway and shipbuilding yard.

1879 Shipbuilding at the yard began

By the early 1880s the yard employed 500 people

Edward Finch and Co Ltd continued to build ships (and bridges) up to the First World War.

WWI During the War, the yard was extremely busy making minesweepers, tugs and boom defence vessels.

1916 In this year the Finch yard was bought by Standard Shipbuilding Co with funding from a consortium of other shipyard owners. The first task was to modernise the yard - a new venue was found just downstream of the Finch yard. The company was then renamed Edward Finch (1916). The company now had four berths in the old Finch yard, eight new berths in the Chepstow No. 1 yard and a further eight berths in the Bleachely No. 2 yard which was located on the opposite side of the Wye.

1917 The Government took over the yards - becoming one of the National Shipyards. The Shipping Controller ordered two standard "C" types, four "H" types and six prefabricated "N" type vessels.

1920 A group of investors, the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co and the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co wanted to buy the yards[1] but problems arose concerning the tax situation; eventually they formed Monmouth Shipbuilding Co to acquire the yards. The first ship launched under the new management was the War Glory, in April 1920; she was the largest ship launched on the Wye and also the first in Britain to be launched with steam up[2]

1920 A number of war ships were then launched from the company's yards. The company also made a further six "N" types and three hoppers and a tanker.

1920 Northumberland Shipbuilding Co acquired a majority interest in the company.

1923 The Chepstow yards closed.

1924 the National Shipyards Chepstow yard, which had been constructed by the government during WWI, was sold to Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co Ltd[3] to build bridges during the inter-war years.

1933 Supplied wagons to the GWR[4]

1933 Supplied the steelwork for a bridge over the Avon at Fladbury near Pershore[5]

1937 National Shipbuilders Security placed a covenant on Fairfield's Chepstow yard against shipbuilding[6]

WWII The yards made floating cranes and landing craft and at their height were making three landing ships a month.

1959 Major fire destroyed equipment and buildings at Fairfield's Chepstow works[7]

1961 Fairfields reported that the Chepstow yard had fabricated steelwork for railway bridges, buildings, factories and gantries for overhead cranes; further orders had been obtained[8]

1966 Fairfield's Chepstow Bridge and Constructional Works was acquired by the private company Mabey and Johnson when the main shipbuilding operations were rescued by government action. The company had contracts for steelwork for 2 power stations and several bridges[9]

At a later date the company became Fairfield-Mabey, specialising in bridges

See Also


Sources of information

  1. The Times, Feb 05, 1920
  2. The Times, Apr 22, 1920
  3. The Times, 1924
  4. The Times, Feb 24, 1933
  5. The Times, Jul 24, 1933
  6. The Times, Oct 23, 1937
  7. The Times, Sep 12, 1959
  8. The Times, Dec 05, 1961
  9. The Times , Jul 07, 1966
  • British Shipbuilding Yards. 3 vols by Norman L. Middlemiss