200 Years of Shipbuilding History

The site of the Blyth yard has a long and illustrious history. It has been occupied by a number of different companies, and has produced a wide range of vessels from small wooden sailing ships to cargo-liners, large tankers and now modern aluminium workboats.

Shipbuilding began on the south bank of the river Blyth in 1811 in the area known today as Wimbourne Quay, the current site of Alnmaritec.

Initially the yard built small wooden sailing ships and then in 1880 the first two iron ships were built at Blyth for the Russian Government. The yard moved on to build cargo-liners and tramp steamers as well as numerous colliers.

On 5th September 1914 the most famous ship built in the shipyard, the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal was launched from the yard. Apart from the Ark Royal, the shipyard built torpedo boats, destroyers, minesweepers and lighters for the British Admiralty during World War I.

After the war the yard continued to build colliers and tramp steamers and during World War II it built further vessels for the Admiralty including five 'River' class and seven 'Castle' class frigates.

In post war years the yard built cargo-liners as well as oil tankers, ore carriers, coastal steamers and dredgers but in 1967 the shipbuilding berths were demolished.

In 2009 Alnmaritec moved onto the site initially occupying part of it before completing the move of all its boat building operations to Wimbourne Quay in 2011 – exactly 200 years after the first ship was built there.

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