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 150,704 pages of information and 235,205 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.

Wigram and Green

From Graces Guide

Wigram and Green was a shipbuilding yard based on the River Thames in London

1782 George Green was apprenticed to John Perry, whose family had managed the Blackwall Shipyard on the Thames, builders of East Indiamen, since 1708. He rose rapidly and married Perry’s second daughter Sarah early in 1796.

1780s Mr. John Perry & Co. at Blackwall built several 74-gun third-rate two-deck ships for the Royal Navy - Venerable (1784); Victorious (1785); Hannibal (1786); Theseus (1786).[1]

1794 Mr John Perry & Sons at Blackwall built the Pelter (1794) and Aimwell (1794), both 14-gun, 18-oared, two-masted gun vessels.

1796 Perry rebuilt the Earl Talbot, an East India Company ship, as a 64-gun Third Rate, two-decker and renamed her Agincourt.

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

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

1799 Perry married Green’s younger sister, Mary, as his second wife in 1799.

In 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.

In 1805 Sir Robert Wigram (1744–1830) bought a large share and the firm became Wigram, Wells and Green.

1812 A meeting held in The Mould Loft, Blackwall belonging to Wells, Wigram and Green [2]

By 1813 Wigram had taken over all the Wells interest and it became Wigram and Green. He owned half the business, his sons Money and Loftus Wigram a quarter, and Green the remaining quarter. Robert Wigram retired in 1819 and sold his half to the other partners.

1821 Mention of a ship launched from Wigram and Green's yard at Blackwall [3]

1821 Wigram & Green built the first of many small steam vessels in the Blackwall Yard. They continued to do so for concerns like the General Steam Navigation Co.

By the 1820s Wigram and Green owned shares in East Indiamen.

1825 Launch of the new East India ship 'Abercrombie Robinson' (named in honour of the Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors) of between 1,300 and 1,400 tons was launched at Wigram and Green's yard at Blackwall. Her sister ship the 'Edinburgh' had been launched the previous week. [4]

With the end of the East India Company shipping monopoly in sight in 1834, the families diversified into ship-owning, separately and as partners. George Green’s first ship was the Sir Edward Paget in 1824 and he also became involved in building and operating South Sea whalers from 1829.

1829 Richard Green became a partner in the firm which was renamed Green, Wigram and Green.

1832 Money Wigram built the first ship for his own account for trade to Australia. The Green family followed suit and began to establish a larger fleet of ships.

1832 Green, Wigram and Green of Blackwall employed from 500 to 1,000 men [5]

1833 Green, Wigram and Green of Blackwall launch the 'Monarch' the largest steam-ship ever built in the country and owned by the Edinburgh Steam Co. Powered by two 100 hp engines by Boulton and Watt [6]

After 1834 an increasing number of ships were built for both families at Blackwall and elsewhere.

1834 Wigram and Green launch of an East Indiaman [7]

1835 part of the Blackwall estate was sold to the Blackwall Railway Company for a maritime passenger terminus whose river interface was the Brunswick Wharf.

1836 Wigram and Green of Blackwall launch the 'Countess of Lonsdale' of 700 tons. Owned by the General Steam Navigation Co. [8]

1837 Wigram and Green of Blackwall launch the 'Madagascar' of 900 tons [9]

1837 the Greens’s Blackwall-built Seringapatam introduced an advanced, larger design of vessel. Their general lines and smart operation gained the complimentary nickname of Blackwall frigates.

1838-9 They experimented with auxiliary paddle power in their new Indiamen Earl of Hardwick and Vernon but unsuccessfully.

Between 1837 and 1862 one or more ships were built annually for the firm and they lost only four in that period.

1839 Wigram and Green launched the East Indiaman Owen Glendower of 1,000 tons [10]

1839 Wigram and Green held trials of the Vernon, the first East Indiaman fitted with a steam engine. 30 hp engine by Leaward and Co [11]

1841 Built the steam ship Trident [12]

1843 The 'Conqueror' of 800 tons belonging to Richard Green of Wigram and Green was wrecked in the channel and all except one of the 45 crew and 18 passengers lost [13] [14]

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, presumably Richard and Henry Green, later becoming R. and H. Green and Co.

They began to make Australian voyages in the late 1840s and established a monthly service after the discovery of gold in Port Victoria in 1852. By about 1860 they had a fleet of 30 ships.

1857 Money Wigram's business continued to thrive until the Green family formed Orient Steam Navigation Co in 1878 and quickly dominated the Australian trade.

After Richard Green’s death in January 1863 they acquired the auxiliary steamers Good Hope and James V. Stevenson for the Calcutta trade in 1871, and themselves built the full-powered Viceroy (1871) and Sultan (1873) for the same route.

Money Wigram's shipping business steadily declined until its last ship was sold in 1894.

1894 Allan Hughes (who founded The Meteor Steam Navigation Company in London in 1892) purchased the assets goodwill and flag of Money Wigram & Sons. The company name was changed to King Steam Navigation to match the names of its first ships, Celtic King and Maori King.

1895 The name was changed again to the Federal Steam Navigation Co Ltd, one of Britain’s most illustrious shipping companies.

By 1895, Thames based shipbuilders were no longer viable due to their distance from coal, iron and steel supplies.

1902, with the decline of Thames shipbuilding, R. & H. Green became part of the well-known ship repairing partnership, R. and H. Green and Silley Weir. The Blackwall yard remained in use, with a major graving dock but the main site was at the Royal Albert Dry Docks.

1912 the New Zealand Shipping Co became Federal's major shareholder

1918 P & O acquired control of both New Zealand Shipping Co and Federal.

1960s Green and Silley Weir still had 8,000 employees in the 1960s.

1977 Sold to become part of the Government-owned River Thames Shiprepairers

1980 Finally closed.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1]National Maritime Museum
  2. The Morning Chronicle (London, England), Monday, October 12, 1812
  3. Glasgow Herald, Monday, April 16, 1821
  4. The Morning Post, Tuesday, November 15, 1825
  5. The Morning Chronicle, Wednesday, October 17, 1832
  6. The Morning Post, Tuesday, July 02, 1833
  7. The Morning Chronicle (London, England), Friday, April 11, 1834
  8. The Blackburn Standard, Wednesday, August 10, 1836
  9. The Morning Post, Monday, May 22, 1837
  10. The Standard (London, England), Wednesday, March 20, 1839
  11. The Morning Post, Tuesday, September 10, 1839
  12. Caledonian Mercury (Edinburgh, Scotland), Monday, July 11, 1842
  13. The Morning Chronicle, Tuesday, January 17, 1843
  14. Lloyd's Weekly London Newspaper, Sunday, January 22, 1843
  • British Shipbuilding Yards. 3 vols by Norman L. Middlemiss
  • [2] National Martime Museum
  • Federal Line [3]