Browse by Records Creators

Austin & Pickersgill Ltd, shipbuilders

This page summarises records created by this Business

The summary includes a brief description of the collection(s) (usually including the covering dates of the collection), the name of the archive where they are held, and reference information to help you find the collection.

Date: 1795-1989
History: This firm was founded in 1826 by Peter Austin. The business started as a repair slipway at North Sands but before too long started building collier brigs. In 1846 Peter Austin retired and his son, Samuel Peter Austin moved the firm across to the south side of the River Wear. In 1860 it changed its name to S. P. Austin and Son. In 1869 the old slipway was taken up and replaced with a 300 foot graving dock, which was opened on 8 August 1870. The firm's premises gradually expanded as neighbouring shipyards were taken over. In 1874 Samuel Peter Austin established another yard in partnership with G.B. Hunter. This was shortlived and was dissolved in 1879. In 1896 the firm was incorporated as a private limited company and shortly afterwards re-registered in 1899. In 1903 the company opened a Pontoon Dock with a lifting capacity of 3,000 tons and this became an important part of the firm's busy repair department. The firm continued to have an excellent reputation for building colliers and pioneered many improvements in their design that became standard within the industry. In 1954 the firm merged with William Pickersgill & Sons to form Austin & Pickersgill Ltd. After the merger the old Austin's Wear Dock Yard became largely used for repair work. Colliers were no longer in demand since coal had largely ceased to be carried by sea and in 1962 the firm built its last vessel of this type. During its final years the Wear Dock Yard built three luxury yachts 'Radiant II', 'Suniper' and 'Bobbina' as well as three small barges for the Admiralty before finally closing in 1964. Shipbuilding was carried out at the firm's Southwick premises. These were modernised during the second half of the 1950s. The West Yard, which had formerly been Sir John Priestman and Company's yard, was reorganised to facilitate prefabrication and three new building berths were constructed. The Old East Yard launched its last ship in 1958 and was then converted into a fitting out quay. In the mid 1960s Austin and Pickersgill achieved a great success with the design of the SD14 cargo ship. This proved to be a very popular replacement for the many 'Liberty' ships built during the Second World War, which had become obsolete. The Geddes Report on Shipbuilding published in 1966 advised small shipbuilders to combine into larger groups and in 1968 Austin and Pickersgill took over Bartram & Sons Ltd. Austin and Pickersgill thus acquired Bartram's South Dock shipyard and their fitting out quay at Pallion. In 1977 the British shipbuilding industry was nationalised and the company became part of British Shipbuilders. In 1986 Austin and Pickersgill Ltd merged with Sunderland Shipbuilders Ltd to create North East Shipbuilders Ltd. The yard closed in 1988.
  • Sunderland, Durham
Functions, occupations and activities: Engineering: Mechanical > Shipbuilding and marine engineering
Name authority reference: GB/NNAF/C114846 (Former ISAAR ref: GB/NNAF/B5938 )
  Description Held by Reference Further information
1795-1989: records incl safety and welfare committee minutes, press cuttings, ship plans and specifications, apprenticeship records, photographs, 150th anniversary booklet
Tyne and Wear Archives
See LA Ritchie, The Shipbuilding Industry (1992); Annual return 2012
engineering drawings of ships' fittings
Dundee City Archives
NRA 20370 Dundee misc
1840: blueprint plan of SS Stanmore
Tyne and Wear Archives
See Annual Return 2011
c1880-1896: ship plans
Discovery Museum
c1889-96: ship plans (Pickersgill)
Durham County Record Office
NRA 31633 Austin
1889-96: ships plans
National Maritime Museum: The Caird Library and Archive
1968-1985: Records incl, ship delivery files
Tyne and Wear Archives
See Annual Return 2017

Sharing will require cookies. Show details