43 thoughts on “Furness Shipyard at Haverton Hill

  1. Stumbled upon this site as I was researching a framed ship’s blueprint from 1927 that I inherited. It is of the Windsolite, built in 1927 at Furness shipyard, It was an oil tanker built for the Great Lakes in Canada. Blueprint is dated 5/5/1927. I’m not sure how it came into the possession of my grandmother, other than she was born in Welland, Ontario, Canada by the Welland Canal. I’d be happy to post a pic if anyone’s interested, but not sure I know how.

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  2. Hi to anybody who worked at Furness Haverton Hill I worked there from 4th Jan 1958 till it closed in 1979 I would love to here from anybody especially my old mates

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  3. Hi to All
    It is great to here that so many people remember the Furness Shipyard, I worked there from 1962 to about 1970 one year as office boy in the drawing office then started my apprenticeship as a Engineering Fitter then a few year after till Swan Hunters took over. I went on many sea trials it would be great to here from anyone who can remember about this time.

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    • Norman,
      I remember you very well, I think that I was in the year after you. Yourself, Les Brown and I worked together quite a bit and went on several sea trials.
      If I recall correctly you were living in Hartburn and I also recall you getting a white Austin A40, the first of the apprentices with a car. One easter myself, Howard Driver and and you went over to the Lake District in your car.
      It was sad to see the demise of the shipyard, fortunately for me I saw the writing on the wall and left to have a very successful career in the oil & gas industry.
      Picture Stockton Archive could provide you with my email address.
      Bill Pearce

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      • Bill
        I have just come back to this site I didn’t think anyone would remember me. I remember you well you were a drummer in a band at one time, it’s great to read your comments I live in Kent now age 72 retired. Picture Stockton will forward on my email address if you’d like to get in touch. Best Wishes Norman Hill

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        • Norman,
          which part of Kent are you living in, we were living in Rainham for a while while I was working in London. I am back living in Teesside again after spending many years in India, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, USA and Canada. Like yourself I am retired now and still seeing the world through holidays.
          The old shipyard is still a working site, mostly on structures for wind farms these days, sad to see such a once vibrant facility being under utilised.
          I will try and get your email address from Picture Stockton and will contact you with a few memories from the Furness days.
          Bill

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          • Bill
            I live near Bexleyheath have been here for about 40 years still have the Teesside accent, I worked on the Thames Barrier during it’s construction for the Diving Contractor then numerous engineering companies, some year ago I went to the old shipyard site nothing left but the fitting out basin, very sad Bill it must be 50 years or more since we worked together, it’s great to hear from you, hope I can get your email address so we can swap memories.
            Norman

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  4. My father worked there nearly all his working life as a welder his name was Allan Crawford. I served my apprenticeship there as a welder from 1970-Martin Crawford

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  5. Hello to all.
    I’ve posted previously about Furness. And after some time I’ve finally pulled my finger out and I’ve sourced a book from Norton Library by the Author John M Evans. The book entitled “Fifty Years of Furness” 1919-1969. Isbn 0042302285
    Although a small hardback this book has lots of information on Furness including contract/vessel details launch dates photos it also includes photos and info on Haverton Hill.
    May I also place an appeal that if there is amyone who would like to join forces on researching more about Furness and Haverton Hill please feel free to contact me. Picture Stockton will be happy to pass on my email address. Two heads are definitely better than one!

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  6. I was born in Haverton Hill in 1954, and I remember my Mother Margaret Caygill dressing me up and taking me to a ships Launch. All I can remember is that you could see the ship growing in stature above the houses. I think it could of been in 1958, but not certain, I would dearly love to know which ship was being launched. The only clue I can give is that Dame Anna Neagle named her. Can anyone help?
    Susan Caygill formerly of 14 Leaven Street. (the chip chop on the circle.)

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  7. Teesside Archives has some old payroll records (and other documents) from the shipyard but mainly postwar. The local museum service has boxes of old records from the shipyard once stored at Green Dragon Yard but since moved on. The former are available for public viewing, the latter were not several years ago. I managed to briefly view one box of the latter when I was researching the surname Boardman in Teesside, eg Robert Boardman OBE, a director of Furness.

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      • To previous commentator, same name, but different local family. I was told by a council official that this Furness Shipbuilding archive(?) was recovered by the museum service from the basement of the Furness offices soon after they were demolished, anything above was trashed on demolition, the museum service was too late to rescue this. The recovered collection of documents was contained in cardboard boxes and stored on council premises at Billingham until water ingress threatened it. It was then moved and stored in a back room at the old Green Dragon Museum at Stockton, the boxes stacked on top of each other and along a wall.
        I was allowed to briefly view it during this period, a few years ago. Some of it was not in good condition, and the box I opened and concentrated on contained material of a technical nature. This first box contained ship plans and a document signed by the Furness director Robert Boardman, which I partly photocopied. Where this collection went after the Green Dragon Museum I do not know, maybe someone can enlighten us. It was not available for public viewing when I stumbled across it, but I managed to get a brief view after some persuasion.

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  8. I am looking for information and/or photographs of the Furness Football team circa 1940. Both my father, John (Jack) Brown, and his brother, Bill Brown, played for the team around that time and I believe there is a photograph in existence. Any help would be appreciated.

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    • My Farther George Teale ran the club and he also played football for the club my cousin George Cossey also played for them, my Father was a tower crane driver.

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  9. J Norman Kidd – Ref F W Lewis MD Furness Whithy, specifically the Hon Brian Lewis his son. It might be of interest to you that he did have a son and he in turn had four children one of which is writing to say we would like to find out more about Brian Lewis and his fathe F W Lewis as we have just found the family connection.

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  10. Mention of the Eagle Oil tankers built by Furness, The TES & ‘San Sylvestre’ and ‘San Salvador’ took me back many years to my first trip which was aboard the San Sylvestre when she sailed for the first time and then two years later aboard the San Salvador straight from the shipyards. The San Sylvester’s voyage took us to Wilhelmstad, Curacao. Dutch West Indies and as well as being an unlucky ship, it was also an unhappy one. The San Salvador was a far better ship. On the Sylvestre I was the ‘lowest of the low’ – being the Galley Boy!

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  11. Roger Squires. I have not been able to trace any of the ships mentioned. There were so many changes and firms involved it is difficult to keep trace of all shipyards and docks. You mention early 20th century. Perhaps it may be an idea to contact the archives section of Hartlepool Marina for details. I was in touch some weeks ago and found them very helpful when they realised the connection with F.W.Lewis (Lord Essendon) Chairman and MD for many years. A Hartlepool lad at that who started as an office boy. They managed to find me five oil paintings, four of which I had not seen before.

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  12. Iam trying to trace the working history of my Grand Father, Herbert Squires. He was born in West Hartlepool about 1889. He was at sea with Furness Withy. He was chief engineer on the SS Incemoor SS Oakmore and Newfoundland between 1918 & 1941. I think he must have worked in the Furness Yard before going to sea. I am tyring to find evidence of this – could anybody help with where I might be able to find any information of people who worked in the yard at the start of the 20th century?

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  13. My father Charlie Howsden worked at Furness for a lot of years. When I was at school he would take me to see the launches, saw the whaling factories go down the slipways what a sight and quite a few more. Never thought I would ever work there but I did when they were building the bulk carriers, then of course it was Swan Hunters. I stayed there till it closed down, I was a plater same as my father. A lot of the old hands remembered him he had a habit of tweaking your ear while talking to you and he used to play in goal for furness athletic football team. He dragged me all over Teesside watching him.

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  14. My Nanna and grandad met at Furness (and later got Married). My Nanna (Annie Clocherty) worked in the tiny blue office at the back of the main building facing the cemetary. My Grandad William (Billy) Robertson worked as a Plater/Welder during the 60’s. Im really interested in finding out anything more about the place my grandparents worked and met, as I lost both of them many years ago, or indeed and more importantly anyone who knew or worked with them. I’m in the construction trade myself which makes it all the more relevant to me . I would love it if someone has more info on either or both of my grandparentS and what they were like back in the day (good or bad lol)

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    • Billy Robertson was a Shipwright in the yard. My brother and I served our apprenticeships there, he had a bit of a Geordie accent

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      • Billy corking it was nice to see your name in about Furness shipyard I worked with your dad in the burning bay for a few years I have never met a nicer man I am George kirton

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    • I worked with Billy, my brother too, many good memories. He also had a brother Richard (Dick). I think they lived in Hartlepool.

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  15. Somehow the name Ray Teale struck a little bell in my memory, but it took some severe concentration to fit a face and a person to that name. But, eventually I was successful, and you are now filed away with Peter Weatherall in those memories of Furness Shipyard in the late fourties. You mentioned a Turbo Electric Tanker and could evidently not remember the name. There were in fact two Sister Ships built for Eagle Oil Tankers. These were the San Salvador and the San Silvester. I returned from my two years National Service and was put to work on the San Silvester with Stan Bassett, with whom I retained contact until he passed away last year. The ship seemed to be an unlucky one and I was in the Engine Room when welding sparks set fire to the tarpaulines covering the main engine. All of the fire extinguishers were found to be empty as were the ones brought up from the dock side and I believe that there was a lot of Senior backside kicking as a result. The engine was damaged and experts were called in to affect repairs. I was one of the other Apprentices who went on trial with her. I note that you are living in Oz. I have been here since 1965 and am finally getting used to it. I do have a few photographs from those days showing Harry Mellor, Albert Jeynes and a few others whose names you would probably remember. Must try to get them onto the Pictures Stockton Site. Cheers! and G”Day.

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  16. The turbo-electric tanker was the “San Silvestre”, built in 1949 for Eagle Oil. She was an unlucky ship, didn”t last long being scrapped in the early 1960s. I saw her in Rotterdam once in the 1950s after she had been on fire. It was the last ship I worked on at Furness before leaving and going to sea.

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  17. Would any one remember The turbine electric Tanker built at furnesses of Haverton Hill? Five apprentices went with this ship on its trials in about 1950. There was I, George Form, Joe Curran and I cant remember the rest. We did have trouble in the engine room, main valve seized but we did manage to repair it.

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  18. My father Fleming Strother from Sunderland sailed on the Castilian Prince which was built at Haverton Hill as junior second engineer from 12 May 1927 to 16 November 1927. The Southampton Archives – tel 023 8083 2251 -hold a substantial number of Furness Withy company papers and particularly those relating to the Prince Line including correspondence and a draft typed transcipt of a proposed Centenary book and also the unpublished “Feathers on the Funel” by A. J. Henderson who was also the author of “Progress of the Prince Line 1875 – 1949 – photocopy in the archives

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  19. My late father Jim Robinson was a tower crane driver late 50s until sometime in the 60s. I can”t remember any of the ships that were launched at Furness but when a ship was launched we all waited at the gates to be let in to watch

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  20. Ray Teale: I remembered Gerry”s surname, it was Johnson, you and he were good friends, are you still in touch? If you would like to contact me the Picture Stockton Team have my e-mail address.

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  21. Dear interested people in Furness Shipping. I had no idea when I went arount the Southern Harvester in Middlesborough docks, that she had been built by Furness Shipping. I think that would be about the 1950″s The docks had been specialy opened to the public to view this new idea of factory ship for whaleing. It was at that time a big break through in the fishing world. That is what this country was famous for, new ideas! I do not know where we are going in the future. All Good Wishes.

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  22. Ray Teale: Good to see your comments Ray,its a lot of years since our Furness days. The ships we worked on were BP tankers, Maersk tankers, Elder Dempster cargo ships a floating dock, as well as the whale factory ships you mentioned. I remember your dad the tower crane driver. Remember the holiday we went on with Gerry, whose surname I have forgotten,to Carlton in Yorkshire, with “The Lend a Hand on the Land” scheme? The girl I met there is my wife of 55 years.

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  23. All my family worked at Furness shipyard my father was a tower crane driver, my uncle was a millright, my brother served his time as a plater and I started as a welders helper on the union melt welders. I then served my time as a fitter and turner this was 1944. I was given a book on the ships built at Furnesses but it got lost I would like to see more photographs of ships that were built. Two I remember were whalers Southern Harvester and Southern Ventura

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  24. Stuart,This information is of great interest to me on Furness Shipping of West Hartlepool. A distant cousin of mine was F.W.Lewis who started as an office boy with Mr Furness at West Harlepool. He became Chairman and MD of Furness Whithy Shipping and was created Lord Essendon for his many contributions to the shipping world. His son was the Honorable Brian Lewis of Motor Racing fame at Brooklands, he raced with Malcolm Campbell, Freddie Dixon and Lord Howe. Brian succeeded the title on his Fathers death. Although he married he died childless, and the title lapsed. I do however still keep in touch with his nephew in Suffolk to impart any news of family regarding Furness Shipping and family news. There is an excellent book on The History of Furness Shipping. With respect I do not think this could have been the first ship they built because that was after the first world war and Furness Shipping had by 1919 produced many Navel Ships for this country and Japan who also recognised his endeavours with Honours. I would however like to hear more on this subject if possible. J.Norman Kidd

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  25. A few years ago, whilst in York at a craft fair which was in some college near to the minster, I spotted a ship in a case nothing to do with the fair I was at, it had bean presented to the college by the owner of the Haverton Hill yard when his son started the college. the name of this ship is the “Eskdale” and I am sure it said it was the first ship to be built at Haverton Hill

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    • Hello Kenneth
      Did you used to live in Colsterdale Close? My Mum worked at Haverton Hill Shipyard, I think during the war. I wonder if there is any way of getting records of personnel. My Aunty Norah worked there too.

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  26. My apologies for the very poor quality of this photograph. There has been much interest in the history of the Furness shipyard at Haverton Hill. So here is a picture of the Geared Turbine Steamer “War Energy” 6550 tons, on the the stocks at the Furness Shipyard on the Tees. This was I believe the first vessel to be launched from this yard in 1919.

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