Smith's Dock Company
|Headquarters||South Bank, UK|
The company was originally established by Thomas Smith who bought William Rowe's shipyard at St. Peter's in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1810 and traded as William Smith & Co. The company opened its dock in North Shields in 1851. One of the first ships to be launched at the yard was Termagent in 1852. The company changed its name to Smith's Dock Co. in 1891.
The company became associated with South Bank in Middlesbrough on the River Tees in Northeast England, after opening an operation there in 1907. Smith's Dock increasingly concentrated its shipbuilding business at South Bank, with its North Shields Yard being used mainly for repair work (in particular oil tankers) from 1909 onwards. Despite the shift of focus, The Company's headquarters remained at North Shields.
Smith's Dock built many ships that served during the Second World War, including trawlers that the Admiralty requisitioned and converted to armed trawlers of the Royal Naval Patrol Service such as HMT Amethyst, or HMT Arab, in which Lieutenant Richard Stannard (RNR) won the Victoria Cross.
The yard also built Tree-class trawlers for the Royal Navy including HMT Walnut, which later became a famous refugee ship in Canada. Of the 20 of this class built for the Royal Navy, 4 were built by Smith’s Dock.
|HMT Rowan||T119||13 June 1939||12 August 1939||14 December 1939|
|HMT Walnut||T103||15 June 1939||12 August 1939||13 December 1939|
|HMT Wisteria||T113||19 July 1939||10 November 1939||16 February 1940|
|HMT Whitehorn||T127||25 July 1939||10 November 1939||28 February 1940|
In January 1939, William Reed of Smith's Docks Co. was approached by the British Admiralty with a request for a design of a cheap and simple multi-role warship capable of being built in the multitude of small civilian shipyards not usually accustomed to building to naval standards. Smith Docks was highly regarded by the Admiralty because it had designed the Z-class whaler during World War I and was famed for its reputation for the construction of whale-catchers. Reed's resultant design suggestion was based on a larger version of the company's new whaler, Southern Pride, with a number of modifications. The length, for instance, was increased by 30 feet to give a higher speed, and two marine oil-fired boilers were to be fitted as these could be supplied in about 16 weeks instead of water tube boilers which would not be available for at least seven months.
On 27 February 1939 the British Admiralty approved William Reed's sketch design and, with war becoming ever more likely, a bulk order was placed with the aim of creating a viable anti-submarine force where none had existed before. The first order, for twenty-six vessels, was soon followed by others, and by the end of 1939 no less than 110 vessels of this kind were under construction at various shipyards around the country (including by some large ones, such as the Harland and Wolff yard at Belfast). Smith's Dock built 12 of the total of 196 built of this class.
French Flower-class corvettes
At the outbreak of World War II the Marine nationale (French Navy) needed ships for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and, following the Royal Navy (RN)'s example, placed orders from Smith's Dock for four corvettes. Following this the Marine nationale ordered a further 18 ships, to be built at a number of British and French shipyards. These were identical to the British Flower-class corvettes except that French 100 mm (3.9 in) and 13.2 mm AA guns were to be fitted.
The Fall of France in June 1940 brought a drastic change to these building programmes. Of the original four French Flower-class corvettes, La Bastiaise was mined on builders trials and the others were taken over by the RN on completion.
|La Bastiase||Smith's Dock||22 June 1940||Sunk by mine, 22 June 1940|
|La Malouine||Smith's Dock||30 July 1940||Transferred to RN as|
HMS La Malouine (K46)
|La Dieppoise||Smith's Dock||26 August 1940||Transferred to RN as|
HMS Fleur de Lys (K122)
|La Paimpolaise||Smith's Dock||26 September 1940||Transferred to RN as|
HMS Nasturtium (K107)
Orders for six of the second group were placed with Smith's Dock.
|HMS Snowdrop*||K67||10 April 1940||19 July 1940||16 January 1941|
|HMS Sunflower||K41||24 May 1940||19 August 1940||25 January 1941|
|HMS Tulip*||K29||30 May 1940||4 September 1940||18 November 1940|
|HMS Verbena*||K85||29 June 1940||17 October 1940||19 December 1940|
|HMS Veronica*||K37||9 July 1940||17 October 1940||18 February 1941|
|HMS Wallflower*||K44||23 July 1940||14 November 1940||7 March 1941|
|HMS Zinnia*||K98||20 August 1940||28 November 1940||30 March 1941|
|HMS Stonecrop||K142||4 February 1941||12 May 1941||30 July 1941|
|HMS Vetch||K132||15 March 1941||27 May 1941||11 August 1941|
|HMS Sweetbriar||K209||4 April 1941||26 June 1941||8 September 1941|
|HMS Thyme||K210||30 April 1941||25 July 1941||23 October 1941|
|HMS Snowflake||K211||19 May 1941||22 August 1941||22 August 1941|
Before the ship was commissioned there would be a brief "Contractors Trial" which was followed by "Acceptance Trials"; two days later, on completion of trials, the ship would be formally commissioned, then fully stored and take to sea. These ships could be constructed and commissioned in, on average, just six months.
In 1966 Smith's Dock merged with Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson to form Associated Shipbuilders, later to become Swan Hunter Group.
In 1968, the company completed the first British-built and owned container ship, Manchester Challenge of 12,039 gross register tons, for operation on Manchester Liners new container service to ports on the St Lawrence Seaway, Canada. By 1971, the company had delivered three further ships of this design to Manchester Liners.
In 1983 to 1984 Smith's Dock delivered two roll-on-roll-off ships for Brazilian owners.
- "From bustling docks to a new community". Evening Chronicle. 13 February 2007. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
- "The Sound of Silence". Evening Gazette. 18 April 2002. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
- Smith's Dock Monthly. April 1924. pp. 186, 193. Missing or empty
- "SS Walnut 1948 - Voyaged to Freedom". Ship Statistics. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
- "World War II Database".
- Conway, p. 277.
- Elliott, p. 188.
- "Fears for Tyneside tradition as Swan Hunter ship is towed to Govan for completion". Guardian. 15 July 2006. Retrieved 4 April 2009.
- Stoker 1985, p. 43
- "Kirkleatham Museum". Archived from the original on 26 September 2008. Retrieved 4 April 2009.