Maryport History (click here for home page)

Maryport's Great Shiplaunching Days - Annie Robinson

Maryport harbour Shipping Brow with sailing boats horse transport Ship Chandler Queens Head
Maryport harbour Shipping Brow with sailing boats horse transport Ship Chandler Queens Head, Burton Ales. The swingbridge on the far right can be seen with its supporting rope. Robinson p22

MARYPORTS GREAT SHIPLAUNCHING DAYS

Maryport was not only famous for her ship building but also for her sail making, rigging, cordage (rope making) nail making etc., but also for the method of her ship launching and in the words of one of the port’s well known seaman – Captain Alf Hodgson, was described as follows:

“None but those who had the pleasure of witnessing a broadside launch can imagine what an inspiring sight it was. They took place at high water spring tides, and as these occur at Maryport at about noon and midnight, launches have taken place at midnight and at full moon. Imagine the scene! The narrow River Ellen, the shipyard on one bank, and Mote Hill rising to a height of 1 30 feet on the other. Crowds would assemble on Mote Hill from which point of vantage one could obtain a perfect view of the whole scene. The beautiful vessel released from the slip by three of the yard’s most trusted carpenters, began slowly and majestically to slide from her birthplace, then gathering speed, would practically tumble off the dock wall into the river.

The wave caused by her impact came right across the road opposite, and far up Mote Hill. Woe betide the unwary sightseer who had not mounted high enough, for it was not unknown for some to have been washed off their feet. The ship usually gave three heavy rolls before settling down to an even keel, the first roll, as may be imagined was “rail and rail”. “

Captain Hodgson said that he did not remember them ever having a serious accident which, when the width of the river was only 60 feet wide bank to bank, available for launches was taken into consideration, entitled the builders to great praise for the success obtained.

THE CUMBERLAND ADVERTISER – MARYPORT THURSDAY NOVEMBER 20th 1873

IMPORTANT SALE BY AUCTION

To Colliery proprietors, iron works, and rolling mill managers, contractors, builders, ship owners, ship smiths, joiners, farmers etc.

T Boyd is instructed to sell by auction on Friday and Saturday, December 5th & 6th 1 873 in the large yard on the South Side of the Harbour of Maryport, the ship repairing materials comprising wood of various kinds, heavy masts, spars, ship timbers, beams, light and heavy anchors, a large assortment of useful chains, blocks, wire and hemp ropes, about fifty lots of valuable sails and other ships furnishings, fishing and other boats, nets etc. two good hoisting winches, oars, some tons of second hand iron fittings for ships, scrap iron, two pairs of iron clamp screws, and numerous lots of useful working tools, etc. etc. also a large quantity of firewood.

The whole will be sold in suitable lots, and may be inspected on Wednesday and Thursday, previous to the days of the sale.

For full particulars see posters .

Maryport – November 12th 1873.

A TRIBUTE TO THE GREAT SHIPS AND GREAT MEN WHO SAILED THE SEVEN SEAS AND WHO MADE MARYPORT'S NAME KNOWN THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.
SEA FEVER BY JOHN MASEFIELD

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the
sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white
sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn
breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the
running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the
sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the sea again, to the vagrant gipsy life,
To the gull’s way the and the whale’s way where the
wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s
over.

JOHN GRAHAM COMPANY Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.

Greeting from the great port of Seattle to the small port of Maryport, Cumberland —

Mr. John Graham Architects, Planners & Engineers, whose forebears belonged to Maryport, one of whom William Graham was Master of the Schooner Tartar which sailed from Maryport to America in 1819, pays tribute in the following words:

“I send congratulations to the town of Maryport for its great efforts to rehabilitate the Elizabeth Dock and in remembrance of the words of J. S. P. Agg:Large that “The Charm of Maryports Sea Faring Era is Indestructible.“

This text was a full page advert from John Graham Company p29

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