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Maryport Shipbuilding Woods Yard 1765-1862

Shipbuilding yard Woods with the iron rails on which ships were repaired 1765 1862
Woods shipbuilding yard and the iron rails on which ships were repaired. Source p5

WOOD’S YARD 1765-1862

The first yard documented in Maryport was Wood’s Yard located in the North Harbour, Strand Street, and on January 19, 1765 the first vessel built was the 106 ton “Brig Sally” followed by the “Delight” of 127 tons and from thence William Wood was joined by his brother’s son Thomas Wood and between them they built some 70 vessels until their deaths in 1804.

William was aged 79 years and Thomas 47 years and afterwards the yard was carried on by Adam Wood the son of Wilton Wood, while he in turn was joined by Kelsick Wood from Workington in 1818, and in the 1820’s his son John carried on the yard upon the death of his father Kelsick in 1840, and in 1859 John Wood died and the yard was then carried on for a further three years by his son Wilton who launched the last vessel to come out of the yard the “Flimby” (290 tons) on September 29, 1862.

Some 126 vessels were traced as having been built at Wood’s Maryport between 1765 and 1862 a total of 97 years under the control of one family spanning three generations thus playing a great part in the development of Maryport as a ship building centre.

Advert Woods Yard Maryport 1765 1862

The following list names a small number of vessels built by Wood’s:-

1778 – ” Thomas”
1782 – “Zephyr” – a snow (a small brig like vessel with a supplementary trysail mast) of 337 tons.
1784 – the “Fortitude” (220 tons)
1788 – “Economy”
1794 – “Sarah”
1 801 – “Thetis”
1801 – “Dawson”
1811 – “Helena” (270 tons) was the largest ship up to that date built there.
1 837 – “Campbell” (Snow) (203 tons)
1835 – “Paragon” (Brig) (207 tons)
1785 – “Unerigg” (Brig) (140 tons)
1766 – “Delight” (Brig) (119 tons)
1793 – ” Ann” (Brig) (90 tons)
1 791 – ” Bella Isle” (Brig) (117 tons)
1836 – “Cockermouth Castle” (Snow) (231 tons)
1830 – “Susannah” (Brig) (48 tons)
1783 – “Terry” (Brig) (171 tons)
1 824 – “William & Mary” (Sloop) (34 tons)
1793 – “Woods” (Brig) (85 tons)
1821 – “Hotspur” (Snow) (205 tons)
1835 – “Tomlinson” (Brig) (125 tons)

Late 1700’s – The Brig “Harrison & Tomb” (188 tons) was employed in the North Atlantic timber trade.

1797 – The “Postlethwaite” (258 tons) built at a cost of £5,740, her cost to sea was £ 149 a ton and the price of a sixteenth share in her was £233. 15s. 0d, and the dividend paid out to their shareholders on six year’s trading was £521 10s.0p, per 16th share, her total profits for the period being £8,744.

Kelsick Wood’s first steam ship was the “Cheshire Witch” of 113 tons built for the Royal Dock Ferry Co. but in the main he was faithful to the brig and brigantine.

1830 – The “Archer” a 237 ton barque was launched for a firm of Carlisle merchants at a cost of £12 a ton.

1821 – One of Wood’s larger vessels his first full rigger of 352 tons the “Coeur-de-Lion“-was built for Fisher’s of Liverpool, later Fisher and Sprott.

1821 – The “Prowler” a 109 ton brig was built for Thomlinson’s of Liverpool.

1833 – The “Wilton Wood” – a family name launched on September 18, 1833, was of 243 tons and had been built for Stockdale and Co.

1833 – The “Mary” of 700 tons the largest vessel to have come out of Cumberland to date.

1840 – In March was launched the second largest vessel – the “Recorder” named in honour of Gilbert Henderson the “Recorder” of Liverpool, and had a figure head carved by James Brooker of Maryport.

1984 – is the 250th year of Lloyd’s List and the anniversary is being celebrated by a great exhibition being housed at Greenwich Maritime Museum and one of the entrants a model of “The Black Prince” built at Wood’s shipbuilding yard is on view having been loaned by the Liverpool Maritime Museum..

The Black Prince Brig 298 tons Launched 1838

Black Prince a wooden brig 298 tons of Woods yard launched on May 24th 1838
The Black Prince built at Woods yard and launched on May 24th 1838 a wooden brig of 298 tons. The Black Prince came from the yard a year after they had completed the 113 tons "Cheshire Witch", the first steamer built at the port. She was launched on May 24, 1838 a wooden brig of 298 tons, on dimensions of 96.5 x 22.6 x 16.9 ft with one deck and break, carvel built, square stern with no galleries and a man's figure head under a standing bowsprit, and ranked as a reasonable sized vessel, as large as many regular traders to North America, and the West Indies. Source Robinson pic title page

The Black Prince came from the yard a year after they had completed the 113 tons “Cheshire Witch“, the first steamer built at the port. She was launched on May 24, 1838 a wooden brig of 298 tons, on dimensions of 96.5 x 22.6 x 16.9 ft with one deck and break, carvel built, square stern with no galleries and a man’s figure head under a standing bowsprit, and ranked as a reasonable sized vessel, as large as many regular traders to North America, and the West Indies.

She was in service for 52 years, was known as an Ocean Wanderer, and her end came on March 28, 1890 when bound south from Hartlepool with coal for Portsmouth she was in collision with the steamer “Larch” five miles off Whitby where the master and crew landed safely in their own boat after abandoning ship

The “Cumberland Pacquet” and “Wares” “Whitehaven Advertiser” of January 19th, 1841 provided some interesting information two articles being as follows –

Messrs. K. Wood and Son on the previous Tuesday had launched from their building yard a new vessel of 250 tons – register measurement, named the “Aristrocrat” and built for W. Fisher of Workington.”

The vessel is described as “Splendid, coppered, and copper fastened” and in every respect worthy of the eminent firm by which it was erected.

Advertised for sale by auction is the Brig “Eliza Heywood“, described as A1 at Lloyds for 12 years, with all her materials she lies in Princes Dock – Liverpool. Burthen per register 226 tons – old measure, built at Maryport by K. Wood & Sons in 1834 and sailed on her first voyage in November of that year, is copper fastened and was new coppered in 1838, length 80’1″, breadth 24’0″ , depth 15’9”.

A further advert states, K. Wood & Sons (1832) well known shipbuilders and repairers, and as stated “Ships were taken into the yard to repair upon iron rails, while an advert in the local paper of December 6th, 1911 stated that a patch of ground of the N. W. side of Strand Street, Maryport containing 2,495 ½ square yards or thereabouts and formerly occupied as Wood’s Shipbuilding and repairing yard was for sale by public auction, the annual ground rent being £4. 13. 0d.

A ship and ornamental carver named James Brooker had a workshop in Eaglesfield Street, Maryport, where for many years from 1 840 he worked on Maryport, Harrington, Workington and Whitehaven ships. A letter of 1846 from K. Wood & Sons, shipbuilders states

We have much pleasure in certifying that we have for many years employed Mr. James Brooker in carving figure heads and sterns, and all other carved work belonging to vessels, and that we consider him inferior to none, but superior to most in that art. We feel confident that he will give satisfaction to those who may employ him“.

James Brooker served his apprenticeship in 1828 and on coming to Maryport in 1842 he took a grant of land in part of Eaglesfield Street from Humphrey Senhouse – Lord of the Manor and carved on the lintel of his house a replica of The Lion of Lucerne which is still there today. In the Maryport Advertiser of December 4th, 1853 it states that his house, workshop, furniture and fittings were to be sold as he was leaving for Glasgow. In 1851 he was awarded a medal from Crystal Palace Exhibition.

Mary Ann Johnston Figure head of the ship of Maryport By James Brooker Maryport
Figure head of the ship Mary Ann Johnston of Maryport carved by James Brooker of Maryport. Source Robinson p6

Compiled by Miss Annie Robinson, MBE JP for Maryport Maritime Museum – Adapted for online appreciation by Peter Nicholson