Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Richards (Shipbuilders)

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1968. St. Bees, launched on Thursday 13th June 1968.

Richards Shipbuilders Ltd. has a convoluted history.

1876 The precursor to the yard was started by Samuel Richards - S. Richards and Co. The company was based in a boatyard on the south side of the inner harbour at Lowestoft in Suffolk, East Anglia, England. It began its career by building wooden drifters.

1919 Richards died; by this time over two hundred wooden drifters had been built. Richard's sons took over the running of the yard and the company continued making drifters and deep sea trawlers along with paddle steamers.

1920s After making a series of motor trawlers and their first motor drifter, the yard closed for four years from 1926-30.

1930s The yard was bought up by W. F. Cockerell of the East Anglian Ice and Cold Storage Co and he renamed the business as Richards Ironworks.

1935 The yard restarted shipbuilding again, making motor trawlers and then barges and a lightship. The yard also continued shiprepairing.

WWII The yard escaped any serious bombing and managed to complete 85 small ships and repaired hundreds of other craft. In addition, the yard made motor minesweepers and 24 motor fishing vessels and a torpedo recovery ship for the Admiralty. There were also a further eight standard coasters and six "VIC" type Clyde puffers made for the Admiralty during this time.

1950s The yard expanded in 1954 by taking over an adjoining shipyard. It was also bought up by United Molasses Co who spent some time and £250,000 modernising the facilities there. It was at this point that the Lowestoft yard was renamed Richards (Shipbuilders) Ltd.

1960s The yard predominantly focussed on building coastal molasses tankers during the 50s. Then, in the 60s it returned to its mainstay of motor trawlers and drifters along with ten wooden "Ton" class minesweepers and seaward defence boats. In 1969 United Molasses Ltd purchased another yard: the Fellows Yard at Great Yarmouth which began a new period of expansion for the company in the 70s.

1970s Both yards were now able to accommodate longer ships, and coastal tankers and oil rig supply ships along with tugs and trawlers, were manufactured at the two yards throughout the 70s.

1980s Having escaped nationalisation in 1977, the yard was able to contribute a number of innovative shipbuilding designs to the industry. Throughout the 80s the yard made fishery patrol ships, pollution safety control ships, passenger/cargo, oil rig supply, landing craft, minesweepers and tugs.

1990s The Yarmouth yard had closed in the late 80s following a drop in demand, and the Lowestoft yard followed in 1994. The reason for closure was lack of orders.


See Also


Sources of Information

  • British Shipbuilding Yards. 3 vols by Norman L. Middlemiss