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Miramar, Plimsoll, xplornet,, Excel DP, eBay, Delcampe, Jul. 28, 2021.


On page 42, re 'Austin', it was stated that Mr. Thomas (Tom) Millar was General Manager at Austin's from about 1950 through 1957/58.

You may well wish to know that he was, earlier in his career, Managing Director of Ailsa Shipbuilding Company, of Troon, Ayrshire.

Anyway Tom was the Austin's General Manager at the time when the company's ownership was in transition & the yard became a part of 'Austin & Pickersgill Limited' - when Austin's & 'W. Pickersgill & Sons Limited' merged in 1954.

That's Tom Millar (1903/1987) at left above, by the way, taken from the two images that appear below. And at right above is Isobel (Pat) Millar, Tom's wife.

In Tom's effects (he passed away in 1987) were a number of wonderful launching party images, most particularly re the launches of Ardingly, Borde, Hackney & Wallarah. All are truly quite magnificent images & each is visible via the linked listings. But, as an example of those images, you can see right here one of the 4 - the fine photograph re Ardingly, launched in 1951.

Included, however, in Tom's effects were two launch images where the identity of the ship being launched is not known. Tom Millar, (Tom Millar's son that is!) thinks that the lower image below may be of either Kirkham Abbey or Byland Abbey, launched respectively in 1956 & 1957, but he is not sure.

So we seek your assistance. If you can help in any way, do be in touch - respecting the identification i) of the ships concerned & ii) of the names of the folks in the two following launching images.

Here are the two launch images of vessels today unidentified.

The names of the folks in the image immediately above. Hopefully this short list, today, will soon get longer with your help! 5 - Isobel (Pat) Millar, 9 - A. H. (Harry?) W. Dawson, 18 - Thomas (Tom) Millar, General Manager, A & P.

The names of the folks in the image immediately above. Hopefully the short list, today, will soon get longer with your help! 17 - Mr. E. Workman, Chairman, 22 - A. H. (Harry?) W. Dawson, 23 - Isobel (Pat) Millar, 25 - Thomas (Tom) Millar, General Manager, A & P.

Tom also has the identification panel from another Austin's ship launching party from the 1950s - a large group from the number of names that are listed (42). The panel appears below but the related photograph is, alas, gone. Identifying the ship concerned would be a major achievement from such unusual & limited data.


In 1945, Henry Thomas Hardy retired from the role of Chief Draughtsman at S. P. Austin & Son, a position he had held since 1913. Indeed, his total service at the shipbuilding firm exceeded 50 years. In the King's Birthday Honours List of 1946, published in the London Gazette on Jun. 24, 1946, Mr. Hardy was honoured by King George VI by being inducted, for his war-time service, as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). His many colleagues at the firm joined him at a fine dinner held in his honour on Jul. 16, 1946, at the Grand Hotel in Sunderland, a dinner presided over by Mr. F. W. Dugdale, then the company's managing director. Mr. Hardy is third from the right in the image below while Mr. Dugdale is at the extreme right. A larger image is available with a click of your mouse.

Jan Robinson's family has a long association with the city of Sunderland. We thank Jan both for her guestbook message & for providing the above image & the related article from the 'Sunderland Echo and Shipping Gazette' re Henry T. Hardy (1873/1950), her grandfather.

'J. Young' means James Young who was, I learn, the General Manager of the firm as per an announcement published in 1955 which referred to his death.


In 1976, a modest plaque was presented to Mr. J. Galley to recognise his 35 years of service with Austin & Pickersgill Ltd. Now 'Austin & Pickersgill' was only formed in 1954 so the 35 years of service included service with one of the prior entities which came together to form A&P. In Mr. Galley's case that was Bartrams. I cannot tell you what Mr. Galley's job was at the company. If you know, do consider advising the webmaster.

The plaque was offered for sale via e-Bay in May 2019. It would seem that J. G. Galley may be correct. The 25 year equivalent award, by Bartram & Sons Ltd., can be seen here.

In 1983, a similar award was presented to G. McCluskey, for his 35 years of service. A little less impressive than the above award, I think. An e-Bay item, now sold.


A small 1954 48 page volume of oblong format, 12 in. long and almost 10 in. wide, entitled 'Shipbuilding & Repairing', published by 'S. P. Austin & Son, Ltd.' (as per the cover of the volume) or maybe by 'S. P. Austin & Son Ltd.' (as per the frontispiece i.e. no comma). It covers, I have read, by 'eBay University', the history of the shipyard from 1826 to 1954. A copy of the volume was sold via eBay for GBP 40.00, in early Sep. 2007. Another copy was sold via eBay on Jul. 18, 2016 for GBP 25.00. The (webmaster modified) images below are from the later sale.

I above indicated that the volume includes a capsule history of the company, it would seem thru to 1954. Such history comprises just 3 of the book's pages. All of the other pages are either photographs of the facilities or of vessels which the company had built. I think it important to make such capsule history available to anybody who wishes to read it & do so in the following paragraphs.

(Page Two) The business of S. P. Austin & Son, Ltd. was founded in 1826 by Peter Austin, who started building wooden collier brigs on the north side of the River Wear, and later his son joined in the business. In the year 1846 a site was taken on the south side and this is occupied by the present Company.

    At that time a patent slipway was laid down and also two building berths for small vessels. The slipway did yeoman service in the repair of wooden vessels until 1869 when it was lifted and the carriage rails, cradle, etc., were sold and shipped to Helsingfors where it is still doing good work.

    The second Samuel Peter Austin was in charge at this time along with his brother Stanley Austin, and owing to the increasing size of ships they decided to reorganise the Yard. A graving dock was constructed on the site of the old slipway. This dock was capable of taking vessels up to 300 feet in length. It was opened on August 8th, 1870, and was a very successful asset for the Firm.

    In 1871 S. P. Austin acquired the yard immediately adjoining, which was then occupied by William Pearson, and later, as other small yards were vacated, he acquired all the ground to the boundary of Scotia Engine Works.

    In 1874, Mr. G. B. Hunter (later Sir G. B.) joined S. P. Austin, and this partnership existed until 1879 when Mr. Hunter moved to the Tyne. The firm then reverted to the name of S. P. Austin & Son, Ltd., and in 1899 was made into a Public Limited Company.

    Since 1874 the company has been building iron and steel vessels, the size increasing as ground became available.

    In the year 1897 a site to the west of the boundary, occupied by a bottle works was acquired. The site was cleared and an Engine Shop built and equipped, also a new Drawing Office and Dock Offices. The Board then decided on the construction of a floating dock or pontoon capable of docking vessels up to 400 feet in length. This pontoon, which was opened in 1903 by the docking (Page Three) of the Cunard Line S.S. Brescia, was a tremendous asset to the repair side of the firm as the collier and coasting firms were building larger vessels which the pontoon could dock.

    In the meantime, the new building yard was making a name for the firm in the building of colliers, which they had specialised in. They initiated the machinery aft type for large colliers, thus doing away with the obstruction of shaft tunnel and incidentally saving the shipowners the costly grab damage to the shaft tunnel. A later development was the hopper side tank. This again saved grab damage by allowing the coal to slide down the hopper side on the flat of the tank top where it was easily grabbed up. Another benefit was the increased water ballast which could be carried, which put the ship in a much better trim for the ballast voyages from the South to her loading port in the North. Another trade which was pioneered by Austins was the Thames up-river trade. Sea-borne coal was always cheaper than rail-borne coal and the large gas companies and electricity companies were quick to realise this. On the River Thames there were gas and electricity stations well up the river and to get to them there were all the London bridges over the river to negotiate. The result was coal from the North had to be loaded into barges and taken up river at, of course, added cost. Austins got down to this and designed a vessel to carry coal right under all the bridges to the gas or electricity station itself. This entailed a lot of pioneer work in design. The lowest bridge had to be cleared and this meant limitation of height of structure and also draft to suit the river. Funnel, ventilators and masts were hinged and the result was coal delivered right to the gas company's wharf. These up-river vessels were gradually increased in size until now the latest can carry 2,700 tons.

     Apart from the up-river steamers Austins were building colliers up to 4,500 tons, and there is hardly a fleet of colliers which does not contain some Austin-built vessels. Indeed. some of the more important fleets consist almost entirely of Austin-built ships, and this serves to confirm the statement that the name Austin in the Collier trade is synonymous with that of Rolls Royce in the motor car world.

     (Page Four) There were other vessels than colliers and during the first world war two standard types of vessels were designed by Austins, D and H types, and a large number of these were built by various shipbuilders and did good service. Actually 27 of D type and 30 of H type were built.

      During the slump period after the first war, when shipbuilding in this country was at a very low ebb, Austins managed to carry on and had at least one ship on the stocks and were very busy on the repair side.

     The collier fleets are run hard all the winter months getting coal to the South to meet the large demand for lighting, heating and power. Then, during the summer months from April to September, the shipowning companies take the chance to get surveys and annual overhauls done, so that during these months both pontoon and dock are continually engaged.

     During the last war a frigate, the Amberley Castle, was built, also landing craft, but the casualties in the coasting fleets owing to submarines and mines were so heavy that the entire facilities of the yard was concentrated on replacements. Thirty-two of these vessels were completed during the war years, totalling 69,000 tons, which was a very considerable achievement for a comparatively small yard.

     Since 1945 there have been built, apart from colliers, two very fine general cargo and passenger steamers for Martin Carl of Copenhagen, and another very similar for Nielsen of Copenhagen, also two general cargo vessels for Messrs. Wm. France, Fenwick & Co., Ltd., of London, the Goodwood and Wychwood. For the General Steam Navigation of London three twin-screw general cargo vessels were built for the near Continental trade and another one is now being built.

     In 1946 Austins acquired the Scotia Quay to the east of the building berths. This quay, 420 ft. long with good craneage, is now in use for fitting out purposes. The fitting shop there is equipped to handle diesel repairs, conversions from coal to oil firing and diesel installations. The first diesel engine installation to be carried out by Austins is now in progress at Scotia. 

I hope soon to make all the photographic pages, indeed the entire volume from cover to cover available via this site. Any comments?


In late 1976, Austin & Pickersgill Limited published a booklet entitled 'Austin & Pickersgill Limited  150 years' - to document the histories of the three companies which together came to form that company i.e. 'S. P. Austin', 'Wm. Pickersgill' & 'Bartram and Sons.' And to set out the company's then plans to both reconstruct & expand the shipbuilding facilities located at Southwick.

The booklet is of 20 pages & is most scarce. Images of the booklet have been provided to the webmaster & I present here all 20 pages to permit site visitors to both see & read an interesting document which today assumes some historical importance.

Each thumbnail image below is 'clickable'. And each image you come to is also 'clickable'.

A copy of the booklet was sold via e-Bay in May 2019. It sold for GBP 3.99 or approx. U.S. $6.10.



We thank Alan Vickers for bringing to the attention of the webmaster the fine content of 'A and P News', the employee journal of Austin & Pickersgill Limited. Issue No. 1, the very first issue, was published in Mar. 1975. About 10 years later the last issue was published, issue No. 43 of Winter 1985. Fine content? Yes indeed. In Alan's words:-

'There were articles in the magazines on all sorts of subjects - new orders, the financial health of the company, sport, new orders, list of ships, the re-development of the Southwick Shipyard, an aeroplane that was built by one of the yard electricians, a house that was built by an employee, apprentice awards and results, new appointments, retirements, new telephone system, health & safety, shipyard medical care, Queen Alexandra Bridge, Durham Cathedral (1 & 2), Penshaw Monument, Vaux Brewery, etc.'

Also included, I now know, were articles of wide interest related to the history of Sunderland ship building, with pages on the histories of Austin, Bartram & Pickersgill derived from the manuscripts of James W. (Watson) Corder. Coverage of 'Recollections of Southwick', an interesting manuscript written, at or about 1893, by Luke Crown. Articles by Peter Gibson on the history of Southwick. And much more, on a host of subjects over the years.


The magazine, originally published bi-monthly, was developed & produced for the company by Riley (Advertising) Ltd., of Newcastle upon Tyne, & printed by Inkerman Publications, of Sunderland.

For many years Peter Finley was its editor, until issue #33 when Simon Wallace assumed that role. From the beginning of 1985 the editions were quarterly. The last issue, as already indicated, was No. 43, Winter 1985

We present next the final issue complete. Volume #43 of Winter 1985. Of 16 pages. Each thumbnail image below is 'clickable' so you hopefully can read every word at the image that you come to. If you hover your mouse over each thumbnail, you can read a few words as to that particular page's content.

Some of the other issue of 'A and P' News are as follows:- #1 Mar 1975, #2 May 1975, #3 Jul. 1975, #4 Sep. 1975, #5 Nov. 1975, #6 Jan. 1976, #7 Mar. 1976, #8 May 1976, #9 Jul. 1976, #10 Sep. 1976, #11 Nov. 1976, #12 Jan. 1977, #13 Mar. 1877, #21 Aug, 1978, #29 Mar. 1981, #43 Winter 1985.  Many gaps in that sequence.  Only #43 is now on site from cover to cover (immediately above). Hopefully it will be possible to make more editions of the magazine available via these pages in the future. If you can help in that regard, do be in touch. I would be happy to receive additional issues, scan them and get them onto the site. And then return them to whoever supplies them.


There were surely many other publications re Austin & Pickersgill Limited. It would be wonderful if a site visitor could provide images of each of the pages of them, as re the item above.

1) The first such booklet of which I am aware, is re the SD18, as follows, an eBay item. I do not know when it was published or how many pages it has. It sold for GBP 25.00 or U.S. $38.15 on May. 15, 2009.

2) The second such booklet of which I am aware, is an A4 landscape 28 page stapled booklet published by the company.

It describes the classes of ships built including SD14. Extensively illustrated with full page colour photographs of the yard and shipbuilding process, & ship exterior & interiors including an aerial view of the yard & a plan of that yard. Plus basic black & white plans of the SD ships 9, 14, 18 & 22 and same for B26, B30 & B35 - all annotated with design features, main dimensions etc. Not dated but post-1977.

All that ex an eBay item which sold for GBP 12.53 or U.S. $20.15 on Sep. 16, 2012.

3) The third booklet of which I am aware, is what Austin & Pickersgill entitled 'Special Souvenir Brochure published in conjunction with A&P News, the house magazine of Austin & Pickersgill Ltd.' Just 12 pages, but visually interesting pages indeed. I have a copy of the brochure but have not scanned it yet. A copy of the brochure was sold via e-Bay for 3.00 GBP on Aug. 3, 2019. . Next is an image of its cover, courtesy the e-Bay vendor 'robertatforsythe'.

4) A spiral bound booklet.

The fourth booklet of which I am aware, is an undated, but said to be c.1960, square, soft covered, spiral bound, booklet of 18 pages. Stated to be illustrated with photographs throughout, mainly in black-and-white. The brochure apparently promoted the modernisation of the Southwick yard in 1958, & featured both 'Baron Wemyss' & 'Booker Venture'. Its cover is at left.

May I suggest that you navigate the site via the index on page 001.PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE

To Thomas M. M. Hemy Data Page 41. All of the other Thomas Hemy pages, including image pages, are accessible though the index on Thomas Hemy page 05.

To the Special Pages Index.

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