Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co

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1854. The Baltic Fleet.
1867. Monitor for the Indian Government.
1868. Greek Ironclad "King George".
1868. Ironclad for Greece.
1886. HMS Benbow.
1893. Paddle Steamer for the Bosphorus.
1895. The board room and Mr. Mackrows office.
1895. The drawing office and timber yard.
1895. View from one of the engineering towers.
1897. Building of a Warship.
1898. Japanese Battleship Shikishima.
1906. Six-cylinder chassis.


1906. Engines - Armoured Cruiser Black Prince.


Express Coal-Bagging Lighter. 1906.
1907. Thames car. 10-12 h.p. 10-15 cwt. converted.
April 1908. 14 h.p. cab.
November 1909.
1910. Aeroplane engine.

Thames Ironworks of Blackwall was an established shipbuilder in the southeast of London.

See also -

1835 Thames Bank Ironworks at the Orchard Yard, Blackwall had its origins in the business established by Thomas Joseph Ditchburn and Charles John Mare as Ditchburn and Mare for shipbuilding and civil engineering. The site of the yard had been used for shipbuilding for many centuries.

1846 Ditchburn retired; Mare extended the works to the west side of Bow Creek, as C. J. Mare and Co

1857 C. J. Mare and Co became insolvent and was taken over by Mare's father-in-law, Peter Rolt, and renamed Thames Ironworks Co. Ltd. The yard occupied sites on both banks of the River Lea at the point where it joined the Thames, with 30 acres in West Ham and 5 acres in Blackwall.

1860 The SS Mooltan was built for Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co by Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co with engines by Humphrys, Tennant and Co[1]. The yard built the first ironclad battleship HMS Warrior, one of the first to use the longitudinal system of construction.

1861 Built the steam vessels Yavari and Yapura for service on Lake Titicaca, Peru, with machinery by James Watt and Co. The extensively-modified and restored Yavari survives today. See here.

After 1865 Thames Ironworks concentrated mainly on warships, for the Royal Navy and foreign governments; merchant shipping was mainly cross-channel packets, Thames river steamers, and tugs.

1866 Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co. failed.

1867 The Thames Iron Works Ship Building, Engineering, and Dry Dock Company (Limited), of Blackwall, exhibited models of ironclad frigates and steam ships at the 1867 Paris Exhibition[2]

1868 Three five-masted ironclads were completed.

1868 Built the ironclad 'King George' for the Greek Government (see illustrations). Designed by George C. Mackrow.[3]

1871 Frank Clarke Hills bought a controlling interest in the Thames Ironworks.

1872 Peter Rolt and Frank Clarke Hills, contributories of the Thames Iron Works and Ship Building Co, applied for the company to be wound up[4]

1872 the firm became a limited liability company. It was one of the largest and most productive shipyards on the Thames.

By 1875 The company was known as Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co [5]

By the 1880s all the Thames shipyards were facing increasing competition from the shipyards on the Clyde and in north-east England.

1880s During the 1880s more battleships were made.

1886 Manufactured Hone's excavator and elevator for the patentee[6]; presumably this was the beginning of the cranes business - see: Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co: Cranes

1892 The electrical engineer Charles Edward Grove joined the company and around this time the Electrical Department was started.

1894 Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co decided to construct an experimental monorail line based on Behr's scheme, for which the electrical equipment might be supplied by Siemens[7]

1897 Site is 28 acres and they employ 3,000-4,000 workmen

1898 Disaster at the launch of the HMS Albion when 34 persons were killed. A. F. Hills was the chairman of the company [8]

1899 The Thames Iron Works, Shipbuilding and Engineering Co was registered on 15 July, to take over the business of the Thames Iron Works and Ship Building Co, with which was amalgamated the undertaking of John Penn and Sons. [9]. The company's civil engineering and electrical departments were full of work, 4 battleships were under construction and many smaller vessels as well as manufacturing and maintenance of the lifeboats for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.[10]

1900s The company went on to build a number of coasters, tugs, riverboats and lighters as well as naval vessels.

1903 "Completed a twin-screw tug for the Portuguese Government of 39 tons, fitted with engines of 150 indicated horse-power; and have in hand a single· screw steamer for the War-office of 170 tons, and about fifteen lifeboats for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution."[11]

1907 On the death of George Mackrow, his son Clement became the manager of the shipbuilding department and naval architect to the company[12]

1909 The yard's failure to win orders for large vessels for the Royal Navy was the subject of comment in the press; it was the last major shipbuilding yard left on the Thames[13]

1910 Built an engine for use in aeroplanes (see photo)

1912 The business closed. The Silvertown site was maintained by the London and North Eastern Railway until 1927 when it was leased to S. Instone and Co., Ltd., shipowners and colliery proprietors[14]

May have built a few railway locomotives.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Oct 06, 1860
  2. London Gazette 1 February 1867
  3. [1]'Engineering' 22 May 1868
  4. London Gazette 14 May 1872
  5. London Gazette 23 November 1875
  6. The Engineer 1886/10/29
  7. The Times, Jan 29, 1894
  8. The Times, Thursday, Jun 23, 1898
  9. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  10. The Times (London, England), Saturday, Jul 22, 1899
  11. The Engineer 1903/01/16 p 78
  12. Obituary of Clement Mackrow]]
  13. The Times, Oct 13, 1909
  14. The Engineer 1927/06/24
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816
  • Buses and Trolleybuses before 1919 by David Kaye. Published 1972
  • Ian Allan - British Buses Since 1900 - Aldridge and Morris
  • British Shipbuilding Yards. 3 vols by Norman L. Middlemiss
  • Biography of Alfred Frank Hills, ODNB