Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Doxford and Sunderland Shipbuilding and Engineering Group

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1961 William Doxford and Sons joined the Laing and Thompson yards (Sunderland Shipbuilding, Dry Dock and Engineering Co) as Doxford and Sunderland Shipbuilding and Engineering Co.

1965 The group consisted of:

1966 On 1st April a full merger of the yards happened.

1972 The Doxford and Sunderland group was taken over by Court Line.

1973 The old East yard at Pallion was demolished and replaced with a gigantic shipbuilding hall where two ships could be built at the same time, side by side with each other. The Doxford and Sunderland Group was renamed Sunderland Shipbuilders Ltd on 5th March.

1974 Court Line collapsed with massive debts.

1975 The yards were nationalised.

1976 The East Yard was rebuilt as a state of the art covered shipyard, which opened in 1976.

1977 The yards were merged into British Shipbuilders Ltd on 1st July.

1978 Further cargo liners were completed at the Pallion Yard, the fiftieth of which was Fenbank manufactured in this year.

1980 The last Doxford oil engine was installed on the bulker Canadian Pioneer. The engine was no longer popular and the Pallion Engineering Works became a spare-part supplier only.

1981 The Pallion Yard switched to building B30 bulk carriers and made seven of these between 1981-84.

1984 The Pallion yard moved into the North Sea oil services market. Two large oil well maintenance ships were ordered from Stena Line of Sweden. A number of electrically powered Danish ferries were also made.

1986 Merged with Austin and Pickersgill.

1988 The yards closed when the Government pulled the plug on further funding. This was a controversial decision and there have been some allegations that the closure of the Sunderland yards were a precondition of saving the Govan Yard. 6000 shipyard workers lost their jobs because of this decision. £45m in EEC grants were given to Sunderland to retrain the workforce, and stimulate inward investment in the region. The Pallion Yard was used for engineering work by Pallion Engineering but this failed financially.

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