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British Industrial History

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Earle's Shipbuilding and Engineering Co

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1881. The Works at Hull.
1881. Engines of SS Assyrian Monarch.
1881. Engines of SS Assyrian Monarch.
1885. Engines of the SS Eastwood.
1885. Engines of the SS Eastwood.
1891. Triple expansion engines for HMS Philomel and Pearl.
Shipyard model of HMS St. George, 1892, at Hull Maritime Museum
DSCN7690 (2).JPG

Earle's Shipbuilding and Engineering Co was the largest yard building the biggest ships on the Humber in Hull.

formerly C. and W. Earle.

1871 The yard was taken over by Earle's Shipbuilding and Engineering Co which was a consortium of shareholders. Sir Edward Reed became chairman.

1871 Company incorporated.

1870s Things did not get off to a good start when the yard tendered for Admiralty contracts, but was not awarded any business (due to a technical design difference of opinion between the then chairman Edward Reed and the Admiralty itself). However, the yard did mange to secure a number of prestigious overseas contracts for the Chilean, Japanese, Russian and Greek navies.

1874 Following Edward Reed's resignation in 1874, the Admiralty were more forthcoming with their business and orders for a variety of cruisers came in.

1880s The 1880s were typified by large iron construction ships, and then following a switch to steel, the vessels became larger and larger. Steamers, ferries, passenger/cargo ships and trawlers were mainstays of the yard throughout the later 20 years of the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century.

1890s The yard lost a lot of business to competitors in the early 1890s with the result that by 1897 the yard was facing a financial crisis.

1900 This led to voluntary liquidation in 1900 and no work was completed at the yard for a further year.

1901 Local shipowner Charles Henry Wilson acquired the yard and the company began trading again. The yard was modernised, and over thirty five ships were built for the Wilson Line. The yard also began picking up naval orders again.

1901 The company was registered on 24 December, to acquire the properties formerly owned by a company of the same name. [1]

1901 Company was bought by C. H. Wilson who formed a new company bearing the same name.

1902 W. C. Jackson was receiver and manager of the company in a legal case against a Lloyd's underwriter in connection with the accident involving HMS Bullfinch[2]

1904 The steamer Inca was ordered for service on Lake Titicaca in Peru. The vessel was 220 ft long. It was initially erected at Earle's yard and then each section was marked and the whole ship taken to pieces. No part of the dismantled ship weighed more than 12 tons and the largest packing case did not exceed ten feet in breadth and eleven feet in height. After arrival in South America the packages were transported by railway up to the Lake and the vessel was assembled and launched in the first half of 1905. In the late 1920s, Earles constructed a replacement bottom for the vessel which was prefabricated in Hull before being shipped in sections to South America.[3]

1914 Iron and Steel Ship Builders, Marine Engineers and Boilermakers. [4]

WWI The yard made three "Flower" class sloops, tankers, cargo-liners, seven "B" types, two "E" types and two refrigerated ships.

1920s The yard diversified its customer base making steamships, trawlers, tugs and barges for a number of different companies.

1930s Orders began to run out following completion of the Great Lakes steamer Thorold.

1930 The steam vessel Ollanta was ordered for service on Lake Titicaca, to join the Inca. Length 260 ft. Like her older "flat pack" sister, the Ollanta was initially assembled in Hull, her keel being laid down in June 1930. Within five months all sections had been fabricated and assembled. The vessel was then stripped down, packed in cases and shipped. On arrival at Mollendo, the cases containing the parts were carried by railway up to Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The man tasked with the reassembly of the ship was William Reginald Smale, who had started his working life as an apprentice at Earles. He had to recruit local labour, construct a slipway, and acquire machine tools. Smale’s team made remarkable progress. The first plate was laid on the 24th March 1931 and the ship was completed and launched on the 18th November. She stayed in service until the 1980s.[5]

1932 the Earle’s yard was acquired by National Shipbuilders Security and dismantled, with the yard's fitting-out crane being sold off to the Kowloon Dockyard in Hong Kong.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  2. The Engineer 1902/11/07
  3. [1] University of Hull: 'Earles Yard and the Steamships in the Clouds: The Inca and Ollanta at 12500 Feet Above Sea Level'
  4. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  5. [2] University of Hull: 'Earles Yard and the Steamships in the Clouds: The Inca and Ollanta at 12500 Feet Above Sea Level'
  • British Shipbuilding Yards. 3 vols by Norman L. Middlemiss
  • The Engineer of 5th January 1866 p4