Richard Dunston Ltd. was best known for building tugs. Based in two yards, one on the West side of Hull at Hessle and the other at Thorne, the yard was able to make a wide variety of ship sizes.
1850s From the 1850s until 1911 the yard mainly made wooden barges at its Thorne yard, on the Stainforth and Keadby Canal in Yorkshire, England.
From 1917 onwards the move into steel construction led to orders from the Navy
1919 Company took limited liability status.
1930s The Dunston family purchased the Hessle yard of Henry Scarr on the banks of the Humber. This yard was renamed Richard Dunston (Hessle) Ltd. in 1961 and prior to this traded under its old name.
WWII The combined output of the two yards was immense, with nearly four hundred small craft being manufactured. These included 150 "TID" steam tugs, thirty larger tugs, 34 standard coasters,, 27 "VIC" type Clyde puffers, a dozen "CHANT" Channel tankers along with naval dockyard craft, target vessels, barges, lighters and other smaller craft.
1940s-1960s The yard mainly continued making barges and lighter tugs for British and foreign companies. The yard made over 75 tugs in thirty years. In the mid 60s one of the berths was enlarged so that bigger colliers could be made. Coastal tankers were also produced at this stage.
1974 the Dunston family sold the Hessle and Thorne yards to the Ingram Corporation of America and the yards remained American owned until 1985, when they were put up for sale again. The Thorne yard was closed down as it was not financially viable and the Hessle yard was part of a management buy out funded by Dutch capital.
1980s The Hessle yard built a variety of vessels from the late 70s onwards including four Clyde car ferries, a low air draft dry cargo ship, gas tankers and naval tugs. The yard went into liquidation on 9th December 1994. Although the outfitting quays have closed down, the repair business continues to operate.