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AUSTIN LTD.(1826/1954 - originally founded in 1826, in 1954 became a part of 'Austin & Pickersgill Limited.')Can you help with the history of this company? A part at least of that history would surely be contained in a small 1954 volume of oblong format, published by 'S. Austin & Son, Ltd.' (as per the cover of the volume) or maybe by 'S. A copy of the volume was sold via e Bay for GBP 40.00, in early Sep. The paragraphs that follow have been revised & re-revised over the years as new data has been located. It would seem that there were major changes in 1869 & in the following years as the yard was extended again & again as wooden shipbuilding came to an end & iron shipbuilding became the norm. Now the webmaster has a number of 'Lloyd's Registers' ex 'Google' books available to him (image at left) for what would appear to be most of Thomas Wood's life. But we can tell you that the ship's bell has survived, & a composite image of it is at left, thanks to a kindly site visitor.
Entitled 'Shipbuilding & Repairing' & covering the history of the shipyard from 1826 to 1954. 'Ritson & Co.' presumably later changed their name & by the 1876/77 register, 'F. At this point, I am unable to tell you what finally happened to her.
That is good information, but can anyone tell us exactly where 'Dame Dolly's rock' was located? And in 1897 they expanded westwards to take over a bottling plant located, it would seem, immediately to the east of the Sunderland road bridge. Every time I read new data, many changes are required to the data which is already on site! But do, by all means, view the original e Bay image as was offered by vendor 'claudiacaroline' - the card is long sold. I cannot, alas, tell you the origin of the image which was provided to the webmaster by a site visitor. Whidby her captain, thru 1869/70, but that clearly is not correct. Pegg, of London, initially for service ex Sunderland, soon London to China, & Liverpool to Singapore. were her new owners for service to Australia ex London & Liverpool.
The yard would seem to have been known as the 'Wear Dockyard'. It would be good to be able to provide on this page some images of the early members of the Austin family, from contemporary prints or from other sources. The 'pontoon' is under Westburn, the vessel at right, built in 1929. I understand it was a giant platform which essentially rested on the bed of the River Wear & could raise a vessel out of the water & lower it back down again. 'Imagine' calls it a 'submersible barge' in their page re 'Austin's Pontoon, Sunderland', which features a print (of unknown date) by Herbert William Simpson (1907-1972). For service from Sunderland to Whitby in 1851/52, from London to the West Indies in 1852/53 & 1853/54, from Sunderland to the Mediterranean from 1854/55 thru 1859/60 & then for service as a Liverpool coaster. The Mercantile Navy Lists of 1861 thru 1876 list the vessel as registered at West Hartlepool ('WH'), certainly, from 1865 owned by Isaac Bedlington of WH. The vessel is Lloyd's Register listed from 1856/57 thru 1886/87 (as far as I have checked) and probably is listed after that edition. For a number of years was on the London to Australia route.
A list of the Sunderland built vessels referenced in these pages is at the top of page 040. I read that Peter Austin (1)'s 'first registered launch was in 1831, a brig. Samuel Austin, I read, 'laid down a patent repair slipway, also two building berths .......' Just who is Samuel Austin? And probably other yards also, until the yard ran right up to the 'Scotia Engine Works' facilities. Hunter is in fact George Burton Hunter later Sir George B. Austin 'pontoon' which opened in 1903 (but City of Sunderland says in 1904). 2012, I saw that a stereo image of the pontoon was published by 'Realistic Travels', which company while based in London had offices around the world including one in Toronto, Canada. The name of the ship on the pontoon is, however, another matter!
A list of the Sunderland shipbuilders referenced in these pages is a little lower on page 040. This was on ground called Nova Scotia, near Dame Dolly's rock.' Brian Dodds states, however, that not only was the site called Nova Scotia, additionally the shipyard itself was called 'Nova Scotia' & was at Sand Point, near Dame Dolly's Rock, which rock was so named as it was the viewpoint from which Dame Dorothy Williamson and her maids would gather to watch ships sailing out to sea. I read that in 1874 they started a branch yard with G. Hunter, who later went across to the Tyne to start Swan Hunter's yard. Hunter, famous for his leadership role in what became Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Ltd., of Wallsend-on-Tyne. In 1890 they expanded into shipbuilding premises previously owned by John Hutchinson which included two small graving docks. I suspect, however, that he was Chairman in relatively recent years (by that I mean the 1940s or 1950s), though exactly when it was I do not presently know. A 'webmaster modified' version of the e Bay image is next, available in a slightly larger size here. Next is a simply splendid image of the pontoon & yard in Jun. An even larger version of the image is available by clicking the image. In 1856, per Turnbull's Register, & in Christie's Shipping Register of 1858 the vessel was owned by Thomas Wilson, & Wm. Now LR continues to record 'Wilson' as the vessel's owner & J.
Anyway, in 1826 he changed occupations & started a ship repair facility on North Sands 'with a repair slipway up which the ships were hauled by capstans worked by horses'. The word 'graving' was used, but perhaps is no longer used, to refer to the cleaning of a ship's bottom, the term being derived, perhaps from a French word which meant 'beach'.) I am advised that that graving dock is still there today - in Jun. Re-registered in 1919 as a lighter by 'Victorian Lighterage Pty.
These two pages summarise what Corder wrote about the history of the many 'Austin' businesses & companies over the years, as you can see here. It would seem that the shipyard came into existence way back in 1826! Founded by Peter Austin, born in 1770, whose name this site knows because he was in 1805, I understand, a partner with Samuel Moore in the Wear Pottery & had earlier than 1805 been trained in the pottery business by Robert Fairbairns at High Pottery in Newbottle, located just a few miles away from Sunderland. Austin and Son' does not seem to make sense - where perhaps 'S. (A graving dock is, for those like me who do not know these things, is a multi-purpose dry-dock, which can be used for a variety of purposes - for new ship building, for ship repair, & for ship maintenance. In 1888, the vessel was hulked (which is this case means converted to a lighter), at Melbourne, & became 243 tons only. Name changed to Birchgrove - earlier than 1910, but was it truly so? Nicholas, of Ballarat (near Melbourne), as the then owner of the 219 ton Birch Grove.
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