Tag Archives: ship building

The Thames Ironworks Heritage Trust’s grand plans

Thames Ironworks Heritage Trust

The Thames Ironworks Heritage Trust launched in November aims to bring boat building (and apprentice training) back to the north bank of the Thames in East London by restore a series of boats made over a century ago by the Thames Ironworks Shipbuilding Company, and then employing them to conduct heritage tours of the waterways in and around Stratford’s Olympic Park.

The drawing above from the Thames Ironworks Gazette published in 1899 shows some of the lifeboats made by the Thames Ironworks company at that time. The company also built ships including HMS Warrior, the first ironclad supplied to the Royal Navy – Warrior is still afloat and moored at Portsmouth.

The trust’s plan is audacious, you have to say. It already has access to a number of Thames Ironworks-made lifeboats but it can’t really get started until it has established itself a site for a new boatyard close to the site of the original Thames Ironworks company.

Once operating, it will offer offering routes to training in qualifications conferred by the Guild of Registered Tourist Guides, boatmasters licenses, and City and Guilds qualifications

The trust is confident the economics can be made to work – with over 9m tourists and others expected to visit the Olympic Park each year, it believes the heritage tour service should run at profit sufficient to support its operations and make regular contributions to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution – but the first step is to fund the project’s early stages, including educating the first group of shipwrights.

Here are some links for more information:

Thames Ironworks Heritage Trust: Homepage includes links to history, plans, lifeboats and so on

Thames Ironworks Heritage Trust: Twitter feed

Thames Ironworks Heritage Trust: Facebook page

Shipshape Network: About the Thames Ironworks Heritage Trust

Shipshape Network: Heritage Trust aims to revive Thames shipbuilding

West Ham United Football Club: The Thames Ironworks lives on!

The good folks at the Peggy Bawn Press have written to point out that the Thames Ironworks built many lifeboats to GL Watson’s plans, and have written an interesting post about one particular example: The Weekend Watson – Charles Henry Ashley 

And here’s a great map of the Thames Ironworks site from 1894:

Thames Ironworks Heritage Trust map


Ship building at Essaouira, Morocco

Ship building at Essaouriaa

Ship building at Essaouriaa Ship building at Essaouriaa DSCN1368

DSCN1367 DSCN1362 DSCN1363

DSCN1321 DSCN1312 DSCN1320

My recently married friends Eve and Ed Birch very kindly took these striking photos of a shipbuilding yard at Essaouira in Morocco, where they travelled for their honeymoon. Thanks for remembering us Eve and Ed!

Buckler’s Hard and its Ships, published 1906



A history of this important old centre for ship building, and now a destination for yacht owners and tourists.

‘Many cottages, now no longer needed, and falling to pieces, have had to be pulled down, and closed is the inn kept once by Mr Hemmons, where the shipwrights and caulkers were paid; as is the New Inn, with its traditions of a ”Smuggler’s Hole,” kept till much later times by Mr. Wort, who was succeeded by his son Joseph. James Bown, probably the ancestor of the Bound family today, no longer fires the kiln, and only hollows in a meadow and by the waterside tell where the ”top and bottom sawyers” laboured. The site of the mould-loft in the lower yard can still be pointed out. The blacksmith’s shop, part of which existed in the writer’s time, and which only ceased operations in 1885, is no more. The last of the Buckles went away with its disappearance, to settle down again as a repairer of agricultural implements and traction engines beyond Lymington.

‘Some three miles by land and five by water, away up the wooded estuary lie the shipwrights and caulkers resting in in the peaceful churchyard of Beaulieu Abbey, side by side with the last Hampshire iron-founders from Sowley Pond.

‘The only actual link with the past which has been known to me personally was an old copper riveter, named Glasby, whom I remember quite well, who died at the ripe age of ninety-one. He could well remember working at the ships in his youth, and was proud to talk about his memories of the time when oak, not iron, ruled the waves’