Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Ditchburn and Mare

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SS Rigi the oldest Steamer in Switzerland.

Ditchburn and Mare were shipbuilders at Blackwall

1835 Founded by Thomas Joseph Ditchburn and Charles John Mare on the east bank of Bow Creek to build ships of iron as well as wood.

1838 One of the first iron vessels to be built on the Thames was the Daylight, by Ditchburn and Mare

1841 Listed at Orchard Yard, Blackwall as 'Ditchburn and Mare, iron boat builder' [1]

1843 Launched the iron steamer Magician for the Blackwall to Ostend route. Engines by John Penn and Sons

1843 Launched the iron steamer Princess Alice for the Dover to Calais route with engines by Maudslay, Sons and Field

1844 Built the paddle steamer Wonder for The South Western Steam Navigation Co with engines by Seaward and Capel[2].

1846 Jointly with Messrs. William Fairbairn and Sons, Millwall, Messrs. Ditchburn and Mare contracted to build the greater part of the tubes for the Britannia Bridge but, the Fairbairns not being comfortable with the contract, Ditchburn and Mare took over the whole work.

1846 Ditchburn retired; Mare extended the works to the other (west) side of Bow Creek, including laying down plant for making his own iron. This development led to a rupture of the partnership, and Mr. Mare started C. J. Mare and Co on his own[3]

1847 Built Steamer SS Rigi - that became to be known as the oldest steamer in Switzerland, to be in service on the Lake of Lucerne for 105 years. (See image on right)[4]

The first vessel laid at the new yard was HMS Vulcan

Later came the Himalaya, and HMS Blenheim

1856 The works employed 3,000 - 4,000 men but came to an end in 1856 when they took a contract for a low price to supply gun-boats and became insolvent.

The firm was taken over by Mare's father-in-law Peter Rolt and in 1857 was re-formed as the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co

1858 C. J. Mare formed a new business called the Millwall Iron and Shipbuilding Co

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1841 Post Office London Directory
  2. [1]
  3. The Engineer 1894/12/13
  4. The Engineer 1960/04/22
  • A Short History of Naval and Marine Engineering by E. C. Smith. Published 1937
  • Mechanics Magazine Volume XXXIX (39) 1843 Pt2 p221