THE SUNDERLAND SITE - PAGE 212
SUPPLIER COMPANIES TO
THE SHIPBUILDING INDUSTRY
W. L. BYERS & CO. LTD.
May I suggest that you navigate the site via the index on page 001. PRIOR PAGE / NEXT PAGE
Do you want to make a comment? A site guestbook is here. Test.
On this page ... W. L. Byers & Co. Ltd., Miniature anchors, Swastika logo, 'Ships and their anchors', Many examples of Byers anchors, William Lumsdon Byers, Joseph Storey & the anchor patent, George Storey & the anchor patent, Anchors The Illustrated History, Stockless anchors?, Other miniature anchors, T. S. Forster & Sons, Robert Wight of Seaham, page bottom (A true friend is a sure anchor).
Corrections in any of the material which follows, however tiny, would be most welcome. And additions, of course!
To search for specific text on this page, just press 'CTRL + F' & then enter your search term.
First a few images. Each image is clickable. Hover your mouse over each thumbnail to read the subject matter.
There was a Sunderland ship builder with the name of Byers. On site here. In searching for data about that shipbuilder, I found material re 'W. L. Byers & Co. Ltd.', a company which sold anchors of all sizes. I initially wondered whether the 'Byers' who built ships & the 'Byers' that sold anchors were related to one another. Nothing has been located in a long time now which suggests that there were, in fact, related. So the data about 'W. L. Byers & Co. Ltd.' re anchors has been moved from page 049 to this page.
If you have knowledge about the 'Byers' anchor business, do consider contacting the webmaster with your data, for inclusion here.
An advertisement page from the May 1962 edition of 'The Shipbuilder and Marine Engine-Builder', featuring 'Byers' anchors. Which includes a 'Byers' anchor on display outside the Naval Dock Yard at Chatham. Thanks to Tony Frost of Sunderland. Beside it, an 'AC-14' stockless anchor.
The company certainly specialised in 'stockless' anchors - of more than one design - they also supplied an 'AC-14' stockless anchor, as above. And also sold chain cables presumably designed to tether the anchors to the ships - as you can see in the partial page from Byers sales literature, dating from the late 1970s.
What happened to the company, I wonder? They surely, per an item above, lasted until 1962. But it would seem that the company lasted much longer than that. Colin Thomson has been in touch (thanks Colin!) to advise that in the early 1980s he worked for 'Fife Indmar PLC', then the parent company of 'W. L. Byers & Co. Ltd.' & that he used to each month visit the company’s offices in Sunderland. In early 2019, it would seem that Byers anchors are still available for purchase. From Sutra Anchor & Chain of Norway. As per this webpage. Can anybody add their additional knowledge?
'BYERS' MINIATURE ANCHORS
Perhaps of related interest? An e-Bay item in Mar. 2009 was a bronze model of a 'self-stowing' anchor, just 5 in. long, by W. L. Byers & Co. Ltd., of Sunderland. Per the vendor, 'Byers' were shipbuilders & the model was submitted respecting a patent application in 1887. The item sold for GBP 62.00 - you can see the listing images here.
A second such model of a 'Byers' anchor was for sale in Feb. 2010. The vendor believed that the item, of bronze, was an advertising desk paper weight or sales gift. This one, however, was 22 cm. long, almost twice the size of the model referred to above. And a third model, said to be 5 1/2 in. long, was sold via e-Bay in Sep. 2011, for GBP 66.00 or U.S. $106.95. The listing was long gone but a composite of the interesting listing images survives through this page - here.
There have been more e-Bay listings re Byers sample anchors. A most beautiful example, 22 cm. long, sold on Mar. 25, 2012. It sold for GBP 70.88, or approx. U.S. $112.34 - a composite of the listing images is here. An 8 1/2 inch long model, in bronze, was sold for U.S. $122.50 on Jul. 07, 2012. This is what it looked like. Another model, 5 1/2 in. long, sold on Nov. 1, 2012 for GBP 66.05 or U.S. $105.94. It was stated to be of cast aluminium - the first reference I have seen, I believe, to a model not cast in bronze. The listing is gone but you can see the item here. Another model sold for GBP 102.01 or US $162.68 on Oct. 10, 2013 - a 7 in. model in bronze, of 700 grams, marked on the flukes 'BYER' & 15 CWT' - it had an unusual bronze double loop at the base of the shank. The splendid listing images, all 17 of them, are now long gone but this webmaster created composite image shows the metal loop & the anchor itself well, I think.
A fine Byers model anchor in bronze was sold for U.S. $71.00 on Jun. 22, 2014. The listing images are long gone but a composite image does survive - thru these pages. And last but not least, at the moment at any rate, a fine looking model anchor was sold on Apl. 27, 2015, after 27 bids no less, for GBP 140.02 or U.S. $218.63. Said to be 9 in. long. Just one of the many images is here.
I may soon need to revise this page to include all of the references to Byers miniature anchors on a separate page! A site visitor has been in touch re a miniature stockless anchor dating from 1900, maybe the earliest such anchor of which I am aware. Also in cast aluminium. It bears the additional marking 'E. Juniper - 1900'. With swastikas on the opposing palms or flukes of the anchor. 5 1/2 inches long, & 1 lb. 6 oz. in weight. It was missing one of its dimple bolts, so matching replacement bolts have been machined. A wonderful item indeed as you can see in the composite image which follows. A somewhat similar but larger image can be seen here. If you can help the site visitor in any way re this item, do please be in touch with the webmaster, who will gladly forward all messages - perhaps information as to exactly who 'E. Juniper' was.
Jim Henderson has kindly provided images of what he believes to be a salesman's sample - a miniature Byers anchor, of brass, 8 inches in length & weighing 'a whopping 3 lbs'. It is most beautiful, as you can next see.
William Robinson tells me that as a child he was fascinated by a miniature 'Byers' anchor owned by his grandfather. Before he passed away, his grandfather, who lived in the North East, gave him the anchor which remains, to this day, a prized family possession. The anchor, 5 1/2 inches long, is believed to be made of cast aluminium. It has on one side of the shank W.L.BYERS & Co Ld, SUNDERLAND, & on the other side records a date - BYERS IMPROVED RELIANCE ANCHOR 1904. With the Byers swastika emblem. I think you can make out the lettering from the composite image that follows. Thank you, William, for your contribution to this interesting topic.
Another miniature anchor that was sold via eBay on Apl. 24, 2016 - for GBP 77.00 or approx. U.S. $111.48. 12.5 cm. long. I have included the image here rather than above with the many other miniature anchors because to my eye this anchor looks 'different' than the others. I think, correct me if I am wrong, that all of the earlier anchors are not marked 'Byer's Sunderland' but rather are marked 'W. L. Byers & Co. Ltd.' with quite distinctive lettering - compare the inscription on the miniature below with that shown immediately above. Nor, to my uneducated eye, does the anchor seem to have the patina of age upon it. So my mind wonders whether this particular anchor might be a modern reproduction rather than an original miniature of great age. If so, it is the first such item that I think I have ever seen. Your thoughts on the subject are invited.
Yet another miniature anchor was sold via eBay on Jan. 30, 2020 - for GBP 93.00 or approx. U.S. $121.03, after 16 bids. I cannot tell you its dimensions, however, since they were not stated. A composite of some of the listing images follows:-
A kind message was earlier received from a site visitor from Australia that would seem to relate to anchors. That visitor is researching an old ship's anchor which bears upon it the inscription '05 8 W W.L. BYERS & Co Ltd'. And underneath that inscription 'SUNDERLAND'. It also, interestingly, has swastika markings on both front & back. Now I did presume that those markings might relate to the swastika being a good luck symbol in India. But it would seem that it was, in fact, the trade mark for Byers. As per the 'Reed's' page advertising page from a 1905 or 1906 edition of 'Reed's Shipowners' & Shipmaster's Handy Book'. Which shows the 'swastika' logo.
As does the next following image, of two pages from the early fifth edition of 'Byer's Handbook' (we thank Richard Lovegrove). Click the image to see an expanded three page version.
A number of the images on this page show Byer's anchors bearing the swastika logo.
It is maybe necessary, in the difficult social & political atmosphere around the world that exists today (in 2018) to remind ourselves that the use of the swastika by the Nazi Party commencing in post World War 1 Germany, was a 'johnny come lately' use of the icon. The swastika icon is truly ancient in origin.
It been used in many configurations & in many cultures over the millennia. Wikipedia tells us that its use is found in the archeological remains of the Indus Valley civilization & in Mesopotamia as well as in early Byzantine and Christian artwork. The word comes from the Sanskit. An icon or symbol which represents spirituality, prosperity, good luck, well-being & auspiciousness.
At left, thanks to Wikipedia, a few examples of the swastika. Many more are below from the same source. .
It has been used in many forms, in both clockwise & anticlockwise forms & in many less obvious configurations.
'SHIPS AND THEIR ANCHORS' - a Byer's booklet
In Jun. 2016, a 32 page promotional booklet, published by W. L. Byers & Co. Limited of Sunderland in or about 1905, was offered for sale by siddieswans, an Australian vendor. It was offered for sale at AU $82.50 or approximately U.S. $61.36. It is surely, as the vendor comments, a rare item indeed. The item did not initially sell & was relisted. And was sold, I believe in late Apl. 2017. The vendor described the booklet as follows:-
The booklet must date from late 1905 or a little later, I state that because it contains an image of a certificate that the company received at the 'Naval Shipping & Fisheries Exhibition', held at Earls Court, London, commencing on May 6, 1905. Indeed the medal that they won there is featured on the first page of the booklet. Byers had an exhibit at the exhibition which featured, amongst other things, photographs of ancient and modern anchors. The Exhibition catalogue is WWW available should you wish to see it.
Soon after the booklet was sold via e-Bay, a message arrived for me from Heidi Silverston of Adelaide, Australia. Her interest is with Joseph Storey, of anchor fame as per this page, who was, in fact, Heidi's GG grandfather. Heidi had been the purchaser of the Byers booklet and soon provided to me scans of each of its many pages. I started a new page to show all of those pages but became 'stalled' with how to best deal with pages which were vertical rather than horizontal. And there the matter sat for about 15 months, alas. Partially completed only. To cut a long story short, the entire booklet is now, at long last, available for everyone who cares to read it. Right here.
The e-Bay vendor provided 6 listing images of the booklet, which since they are already on the page, I retain. Next are the booklet's cover, the title page, & an interior page, all modified by the webmaster for presentation here.
Does any site visitor have any other booklets or literature created by W. L. Byers. If so, I would love to hear from you.
In Jun. 2010, Tom Purvis, of Sunderland, wrote in to the guestbook, as can be seen here.
Tom also provided links to two interesting articles, at 'englandspastforeveryone.org.uk', about 'Byers' anchors, but neither article is now available, alas. And also provided a scan of a page, available here, from ‘Once upon a time in Sunderland’, a local history book published in Dec. 2009 by Philip Curtis & Alan Brett. It shows a truly giant anchor, about 15 ft. tall, made by 'Byers' for HMS Albermarle, a British battleship completed in 1903. Tom has since chatted with Philip Curtis & my use of the image on site is, I understand, not a problem. The book was published in 2009 by Black Cat Publications - ISBN 1899560769 per 'BookFinder.com'.
Next - a giant stockless anchor, the image thanks, again, to Richard Lovegrove!
Mike Walker has kindly been in touch to advise that a large 'Byers' anchor is on display on Heritage Drive, Collingwood, Ontario, Canada, a short distance away from the Collingwood Museum, a museum that prominently features the city's long & distinguished shipbuilding past. Mike kindly provided three images, one of which shows the swastika mark on the anchor. One of Mike's images is below & a composite of all three images can be seen here.
And re anchors generally, in Aug. 2010 Tony Frost kindly provided a newspaper cutting which shows a truly giant anchor arriving at Hong Kong - for display in due course in a maritime museum there. The anchor is of 35 tons! It came from Mont, a 260,941 gross ton tanker built, in Japan in 1979, as Oppama of 189,110 tons. It was rebuilt a couple of times. It had a number of names in its lifetime, including Seawise Giant & Jahre Viking & arrived at Alang, India, on Dec. 22, 2009 to be scrapped. The anchor was a gift to Hong Kong from the Government of Norway. The cutting can be seen here.
In Jul. 2011, Janet Eilbeck was in touch (thanks Janet!) via the guestbook, with new data about W. L. Byers & Co. Ltd. I repeat her words with now a few changes:-
My father, Sydney Brown, was Managing Director of WL Byers & Co until he retired in 1984. He took over the role from Mr. Fred Charlton. Sydney worked at the company all his career, other than for war service. We know quite a lot about the company and have some of the models. I am not aware it was ever a shipbuilder, but it held the patent for the Byers stockless anchor and had them manufactured at various foundries, together with chain cables. The company held some small stock but generally manufactured to order. It was independent for many years until taken over in the 70s by TS Forster & Co and later by Fife Forges - a Scottish group.
I commented in my response to Janet's guestbook message, 'Janet states that she was not aware that W. L. Byers & Co. ever was a shipbuilder. It is quite possible that they never, in fact, were shipbuilders & that 'Messrs Byers & Co.' etc. who were Sunderland ship builders may not have been related. I initially put them together due to the identical name.'
Janet adds: 'There is also a Byers anchor, I believe, outside the Maritime History Museum in Greenwich & I think he may have passed books and records to the Museum also. Byers provided anchors for all the big ships of the time, naval and passenger ships. They supplied the QE2 and other large Cunard liners'.
At left, thanks to Kevin Miller, is the anchor that Janet refers to, i.e. the anchor located outside the Maritime History Museum - or at least one of its flukes. The complete image is available with a click of your mouse.
But ... in early Feb. 2012, Jim Henderson was in touch with some quite different information about the history of W. L. Byers & Co. Jim indicates that Thomas Ferry, his father-in-law, was the Managing Director of T. S. Forster Ltd., of Sunderland, which company owned Byers - from a date much earlier than the 1970s. He advises that nobody in the current generation of the Ferry family knows the name of Sydney Brown. So we have a difference of fact - a mystery indeed!
While the name of 'Forster' is being referred to, Fred Lovegrove advises, (thanks Fred!), that the anchors were made & assembled at T. S. Forster's forge with the anchor heads being cast at nearby Wolsingham Steel Works of Walsingham, County Durham.
Now I appreciate that very few of the folks who view this page will be in the market for a used anchor - even though such an anchor, smartly painted & properly displayed would make a wonderful ornament for a front lawn. Or a small anchor would! But I was interested to see, a while back on e-Bay, that Trinity Marine, of Exeter, Devon, is offering for sale used anchors, including Byer's anchors, from the big barges of Germany & Holland. All are stated to be in good order & are (or used to be) available at £1/kg +VAT. At left next is one of their old listing images. And at right a short 'Trinity Marine' video that you will enjoy.
And next, thanks to Billy LaPrade, is a fine image of a 'Byers' anchor that was found in the St. Lawrence River between New York State & Canada. A second image can be seen here. The anchor, which I learn is 7 ft. long, is of approximately 1,800 kilos in weight. It is, in fact, for sale - as you can read in Billy's guestbook message here. You may need help in moving it, however! Billy further comments that the anchor is as it was found i.e. not repainted. He wonders whether it would be better to repaint it black perhaps or leave it alone - a question to which I have no answer. Though I must say that the anchor on display at Collingwood, Ontario, Canada (shown above), painted black, is most attractive.
At times it is difficult for the webmaster to know what to include or to exclude in this website. Such matters have been determined on a case by case basis, often a decision not easy to make. Why do I so comment here? Two messages have been received from Nicholas Butcher, of U.K., respecting a 'Byers' anchor owned by the D-Day Museum at Arromanches, France. The anchor in question was found in the sands off the Normandy beaches near Arromanches, Normandy. The messages are included here since answers to Nicholas's interesting questions, if answers prove to be possible, may well, it seems to the webmaster, be of interest to other owners of 'Byers' anchors around the world.
Here is a composite image of the anchor in question, & also Nicholas's two messages, slightly edited.
'I am conducting some research on behalf of a colleague into a 'Byers' anchor made/manufactured in Sunderland.
We are trying to trace the name of the ship that may have carried this anchor & possibly lost it, if not sunk, off the beaches between the Arromanches Mulberry-B harbour & eastward to Courseulles-sur-mer, where La Combattante, the destroyer of the Free French Navy brought back General de Gaulle to France, on 14 June 1944.
We are conducting this research on behalf of the Arromanches D-Day Museum, now the owner of the anchor. They purchased it from a lady whose husband found it in the sands off the beach, many years ago. It is about 2 metres high & some 1 metre 20 cm. wide.
We were wondering whether, like for aircraft, every piece of equipment installed on a ship has a number which is recorded when first fitted, together with the numbers of replacement units when the originals kit is replaced, so that we could trace the ship from whence it came.
The 'Byers' anchor has a number of inscriptions on the anchor. We do not think that it carried the 'Byers' swastika logo found on their earlier castings. On the flat of the right fluke one can read BYERS, also the letters MH (or RH?), whilst on the opposite fluke, looking at the anchor from the same side, the following letters/numbers are inscribed: LPHLW 28189 344 14/314 BQT A 12021
We just wondered anyone would be able to advise what the inscriptions 28189 – 344 – 14/314 – BQT – A 12021 might relate to.
We believe that the letters 'LPH' stand for Lloyds Proving House & that 'LW' stands for Low Walker of Newcastle. Would anyone know what the other numbers & letters might mean and if there is a way that provenance of the vessel might be linked to this anchor?
So our main question is to see if whether the ship builders or the anchor builders mark the anchors with an individual specific identity number & whether such details are recorded when the ship is outfitted & by whom, or if the item is replaced/changed.
Any assistance in this matter would be much appreciated.'
Nicholas's follow up message:
'According to Wikipedia, the ‘swastika’ symbol has its origins in the Indus Valley of Ancient India as a tantric symbol to evoke ‘shakti’, or used as the sacred symbol of auspiciousness. It has had many uses over the centuries & was worn by some early aviators as a good luck charm. In the 1920s it was adopted as the official symbol of the Nazi Party in Germany.
Once the growing threat of the Nazi Party & Germany’s intentions became clear, it might be assumed that the use of the ‘swastika’ in the manufacturing of 'Byers' anchors was discontinued.
If this is the case, it might narrow the date of construction of the ship to say between 1925 & 1944.
The anchor is about 2 metres high & some 1 metre 20 cm. wide, but the weight has still to be determined.
Any assistance that you might be able to provide in this matter would be very much appreciated in order that we can pass on information to the directors of the Arromanches D-Day Museum.'
The anchor in question, is per Nicholas, about 2 metres high. But has not been weighed. The Billy LaPrade anchor referenced immediately above is of a similar size - 7 ft. long - & weighs approximately 1,800 kilos. It would seem to me that the size of any anchor would indicate, to those who know such things, the approximate tonnage of the vessel by which it was used. Can anybody advises us roughly the size of the vessel that would have been equipped with such a size anchor?
The webmaster will be glad to forward on to Nicholas Butcher, any site visitor responses there may be.
I have been researching anchors on public display, here in Australia, some of which were manufactured and proofed in the U.K., thus having similar marks. Unfortunately, due to their being stamped (rather than cast) such proving marks are usually the first to either weather away or, on display anchors, be painted over to such a degree as to become unreadable. These then, are my interpretations of the marks:'LPHLW' does (as suggested on the page) indicate Lloyd's Proving House Low Walker as the location the anchor was proofed.
'28189' is what I believe to be the proving number i.e., the 28,189th anchor proofed at this location. This is a working theory in progress, so if you have further information on this I will be glad to receive it. It may be that this number accumulates per anchor pattern or according to the passing of a new law act e.g., I have photographed an AC-14 anchor here in Australia, manufactured in 1959 (not by W. L. Byers Co. Ltd.) and also proved at LPHLW in 1959 with this number being 12311. I am hoping some kind of pattern emerges as I photograph more anchors.
'344' is most likely '3.44' indicating proving in the 3rd week of 1944. This would fit with an anchor lost during the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
'14/314' is most likely '220.127.116.11' indicating a proving (test holding) weight of 14ton 1cwt 3qtr 14lbs. There is a table of figures given in the 1899 'Anchors and Chain Cables Act' (here) indicating that this proof weight is used for anchors weighing between 12cwt 0qtr 14lbs and 12cwt 1qtr 0lbs.
'BQT' is most likely 'B♔T' (BT bracketing a crown) indicating the proofing is conducted under the auspices of the Board of Trade.
'A 12021' is most likely 'A 12.0.21' indicating an avoirdupois (A) system weight for the anchor of 12cwt 0qtr 21lbs. This matches exactly the requisite to prove the anchor with the test holding weight previously mentioned.
The dimensions (~2m/6ft high and ~1.2m/4ft wide) seem about right for a Byers pattern anchor of the indicated weight.
I cannot help with clear identification of the ship the anchor may have been used on however an anchor of approximately 12cwt would be suitable for a WW2 ship of frigate class or smaller.
I hope this helps.
Kind regards, Owen Genat.
The webmaster will gladly forward to Owen Genat, any correspondence that he later receives on this most interesting of subjects.
And next, thanks to the kindness of Kevin Miller, a pair of images of a fine 'Byers' anchor on display at Wilson Memorial Park (sign at left) - on the St. Clair Parkway just north of the town of Courtright, St. Clair River south of Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Here.
The anchor bears the early 'swastika' insignia. Larger versions of both images can be viewed by clicking each image.
A 'Byers' anchor that may have originated from a WW2 vessel training for the Normandy invasions. The anchor was found, in Loch Sunart, on the W. coast of the Highlands of Scotland - a place where, I understand, a portion of the invasion fleet trained for the mission. The anchor was found on the sea bed, on Jul. 22, 2012, by Jeff Forrester & Paul Dunn, of Resipole, N. bank of Loch Sunart. That's Jeff at left in the image below with Paul Dunn alongside & Jeff's oldest son Callum Reis-Forrester at right. Alas, there would be no way to identify the name of the vessel that lost it!
Material about Byers continues to emerge. Next, thanks to the kindness of e-Bay vendor 'horacevincent1805' of Australia, we can present a trade card dating probably from 1904, that tells us that HMS Topaze, a cruiser, was equipped with Byers anchors. A very large image of both sides of the card can be seen here. The e-Bay listing is now long gone.
HMS Topaze, a 'Gem' class third class cruiser, was built by Laird Bros., at Birkenhead, in 1904. 373 ft. 9 in. long overall, crew of 296, 3,000 tons displacement, built at (my word!) the cost of £240,244. Armed with twelve 4 in. guns, eight 3 pounder guns, two 18 in. torpedo tubes, & four machine guns. The 4th British naval vessel to carry the name. She served in WW1, of course. There seems to be quite limited WWW available about her. Data, images, etc. - 1, 2, 3, 4.
She was attached to the 5th Battle Squadron & on Dec. 31, 1914 rescued 43 of the crew of HMS Formidable. She served with the Italian fleet in the Adriatic, & then in the Far East. At the end of WW1 she was serving in the Red Sea. The vessel was paid off, at Portsmouth, in 1919 & on Sep. 21, 1921 had an appointment at the ship breakers. But she apparently had Byers anchors, hence her inclusion on this page.
And next, thanks to Bernard Uttley, a 'Byers' anchor with chain outside the Verkehrshaus, (Transport Museum) in Lucerne, Switzerland - thanks to Bernard Utley. That's Jennifer Uttley (née Sugden), born in Sunderland, in the image below.
John Severs has kindly been in touch having visited HMS Belfast, moored on the River Thames just above Tower Bridge, London. The vessel was built, in 1936, by Harland & Wolff of Belfast, Northern Ireland - a light cruiser for the Royal Navy. It is now a museum ship operated by the Imperial War Museum.
John photographed the giant Byers anchor that is on display on the cruiser's deck. An image of the fluke of that anchor is at left.
John Severs' fine image of the HMS Belfast anchor follows. Click the image to see it in a larger size. May I direct you elsewhere for details of the vessel's operational history - lots of data is WWW available.
Thanks to AP of Gdynia, Poland, we can show you yet another large Byers anchor.
In 1935, two Grom-class destroyers were laid down at the shipbuilding yard of J. Samuel White, of Cowes, Hampshire, U.K. - built for use by the Polish Navy. Commissioned in 1937, both were fast & heavily armed. One of the two, ORP Grom was sunk in May 1940. The other, ORP Błyskawica, became H34 in Sep. 1939 & still survives all these years later having been preserved since 1976 as a museum ship at Gdynia, Poland. It is, I read, the oldest preserved destroyer in the world. - That is the vessel's Byers anchor at left.
In the image below, AP shows the vessel at its quayside mooring at Gdynia, Poland.
Johnny Allan was in touch via guestbook & by e-mail re a 'Byers' anchor that is situated outside Brewers Quay, in Weymouth, Dorset. An anchor that Johnny is trying to research. I cannot help with that research but can show you the image of the anchor that Johnny kindly provided.
Barry Thompson has kindly provided the images below, of a 'Byers' anchor on display in the port of Villefranche-sur-Mer, Cote d'Azur, France. And say hello to Barry's parents - Billy & Joyce Thompson of Seaburn, Sunderland.
Colin Thomson tells me that there is a 'Byers' anchor at the roadside in St George’s Bay, Malta, beside a memorial.
Tom Tulloch, Captain RCN (ret’d), of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada has been in touch re a giant Byers anchor, which along with its chain is incorporated into the Canadian Peacetime Sailors’ Memorial, at Point Pleasant Park in Halifax. The anchor belonged to Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Bonaventure, (image at left below) built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, Northern Ireland, & launched in Feb. 1945.
Bonaventure served in the Royal Canadian Navy ('RCN') from 1957 to 1970 & was the last aircraft carrier operated by the RCN.
Both images next below are thanks to this fine site, the site of the 'Halifax Military Heritage Preservation Society'. At left in the lower row is a fine image ex here. We thank Marlant (twitter) for the final image, but my link may be imperfect. Perhaps the image owners would be in touch with the webmaster if they would prefer that their images not be included on this site.
Next, & thanks to Andy Foster, I show you a 'W. L. Byers' anchor which is proudly on display, with others, in front of the Portsmouth, Hampshire, International Port terminal building. Displayed in an unusual but most effective manner, with its flukes buried in the ground.
While Andy is now the Commercial Manager at the Port of Tyne, Andy's family has a very long association with Sunderland, as pilots, harbour masters, riveters & welders. Andy, we thank you for providing such a fine image!
We did not know, or the webmaster did not know, what role William Lumsden Byers had in the manufacture of the 'Byers Stockless' anchors. He was surely involved in their distribution. But ... did he have a foundry, I wonder? Or did he, alternatively, arrange that other foundries should cast the anchors to the 'Byers' design & specifications? Questions now, partially at least, addressed thanks to a newspaper archive search by Lesley Duff - thanks Lesley! 'Byers' was a most versatile fellow indeed:-
Lesley says she has searched the 'Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette' for references to W. L. Byers & discovered thousands of references to him. He owned what was described as a marine manufacturing business, & was often described as an anchor builder (so he may well have manufactured the Byers anchors). But more than that ...
.... He took out patents for a variety of anchors, a device for holding neck ties in place, for life preservers, & for a type writing machine. There seems to have been a Byers Departmental Store for fashion on whose Board he sat. He was a town councillor for many years, fighting to rectify over crowding on the ferries, trying to get a crematorium for the northern portion of the city, & a horse drawn ambulance for the town. He was for many years variously the Treasurer and Honorary Secretary of the Blind Institution. Was Hon. Sec. of the Chamber Music Society in 1891. In which year he visited Thomas A. Bell's house to discuss his new talking machine (the telephone). He was Honorary Secretary of the British Ship Masters and Officers Life Assurance Society. He attended the local Methodist Chapel.
As Lesley puts it ... 'He was obviously an entrepreneur, wealthy, & a respected member of his community. So far Lesley has not been able to spot an obituary.
We now have much more data about William Byers thanks to the extensive research of Clare Abbott. Clare advises that Byers was born in Sunderland in 1849, the son of John Byers and Ann Lumsdon. It would surely seem that it is correctly William Lumsdon Byers rather that William Lumsden Byers. There are, Clare advises, many newspaper references commencing in 1842 to Lumsdon, Byers & Co., of Sunderland, ship brokers, of 51 West Sunniside & 8 Church St. Bishopwearmouth, the principals of which were Joseph Lumsdon (1777/1865), ship's captain/ship-owner (1) & ship broker, & John Byers (1811/1866), also a ship broker. The partners were of very different ages as you can see. John Byers married Joseph Lumsdon's daughter Ann, & the couple had two sons, Harold (who apparently attempted suicide twice as a young man) & William Lumsdon Byers (1849/1906), the elder of the two, whose anchor company, W. L. Byers & Co. Ltd., is featured on this page.
Wm. Lumsdon Byers is listed in the census of each of 1881, 1891 & 1901 as follows:-
1881 - Wm. Lumsdon Byers, age 31, ship owner, born in Sunderland
1891 - William L. Byers, age 41, ship owner and anchor manufacturer
1901 - William L. Byers, occupation chain and anchor manufacturer
In 1874 Byers married Florence Bowman (1853/1933) at Bishopwearmouth & the couple had two daughters & one son. The daughters were Winifred (1875/1931, died at Portsmouth City Mental Hospital) & Ethel (1876/?). The son, born on Nov. 28 or 29, 1878 was named John Malcolm Byers. He died at Uppingham School on Oct. 31, 1893 at age 14. Uppingham School is a long established (1584) co-educational independent boarding school situated in Uppingham, Rutland.
It would seem that after 1901, Byers likely sold his business, that being the webmaster's surmise from the fact that he moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, & indeed died there in Nov. 1906. Under some unfortunate circumstances. 'William Lumsden (sic) Byers' apparently committed suicide by standing in front of a train at Liberton in Edinburgh - 'while insane' as is stated in the death certificate.
The webmaster finds it interesting that Byers was apparently a ship owner (have not yet knowingly found a ship that he owned) & is described in two of the census years above as being a manufacturer of anchors. Clare confirms that no 'Byers' obituary would seem to have been published.
Thanks so much Clare for all of this!
It is now clear that initially at least & likely for a very long time, the anchors were manufactured at Messrs Lumsdon and Co. Limited's Strand Iron Works, in Monkwearmouth.
We are pleased to be able to add into this page data about Joseph B. (Brewis) Storey, who, it would seem may well have been the inventor of the 'stockless anchor'. Thanks to Lesley Duff, & to the extended 'Storey' family - most particularly Colin D. Hay.
Joseph Storey (an undated image of Joseph, his wife & his two daughters is at left) was an 'anchorsmith' - a quaint term today, perhaps. An 'anchorsmith' was almost certainly a blacksmith whose specialty was in the forging of large metal pieces, in this case ships' anchors.
Relatively little is known about Joseph, but we do know that he was born in Gateshead in 1848, & died there in 1913. And also that in 1870 he married Mary Jane Macfarlane, born 1852 in Glasgow, & the couple had 10 children, 2 girls & 8 boys.
Colin Hay has been in touch to advise that he is the great grandson of Joseph Brewis Storey. Colin tells me that the original of the image above is, in fact, dated on its rear (September 1898) & is signed by Joseph. The couple had two daughters. Mary Jane Storey, Colin's grandmother is at back left & Elizabeth Storey, the second daughter, is in front of her. Thanks for this, Colin!
Lesley Duff's family tradition is that Joseph Storey invented the stockless anchor. Hopefully, in the future, new data will emerge to expand upon that family tradition. However what is now known is that a patent was applied for - on Dec. 16, 1887 - for what became the 'Byers stockless anchor'. The names of both William Lumsden Byers ('Byers') and Joseph Brewis Storey ('Storey') were apparently both on that application. It would be useful to know what Byers did for a living at that time. (but now see here) Does anybody know more? Storey was not a wealthy man of course, & was not in any position, on his own, to protect the stockless design & to commercialise it.
The following seems to relate to that initial patent application.
SUNDERLAND DAILY ECHO, TUESDAY, AUGUST 7, 1888 (page 3).
The “Holdfast” Stockless Anchor.
This anchor (the joint invention of Mr W. J. Byers and Mr J. B. Storey) has just been successfully tested at the Public Test of the River Wear Commissioners, the model and plans having been previously approved by Lloyd’s Committee. This new anchor possesses several advantages, one of the most important being that it is manufactured entirely from the best forged iron. The shank stows in the hawsepipe, thus doing away with the necessity for either crane or davits in the forecastle. The flukes stow close up to the ship’s bows. The anchor is always stowed so that it can be let go instantaneously without either trouble or danger – no doubt a great advantage when a vessel requires to be promptly brought up at an emergency. There are two flukes to hold by, instead of only one, as in the case with stocked anchors. The anchor has great resisting surface in the front of the cross-head as well as in the flukes, thus giving increased holding power when a steamer is at anchor where the bottom is of a shifting muddy nature. There are no sharp corners, so that any chance of tripping cable is avoided. All parts of the anchor will be made considerably over strength required by Lloyd’s tests. Mr Byers has received valuable suggestions as regards details of construction from eminent shipbuilders both on the Clyde and East Coast. The “Holdfast” anchor will be manufactured by Messrs Lumsdon and Co., Limited, at their Strand Iron Works, Monkwearmouth, several outfits having already been contracted for. Models of the anchor can be seen at 51 West Sunniside, by anyone interested in the subject.
In or about May 1889, I presume after the patent had been granted, Byers & Storey negotiated an agreement whereby Storey's interest in the patent was bought out by Byers for the sum of £50. Now reading between the lines of the available documentation, Storey may well have been at a negotiating disadvantage. The settlement would appear to have been much lower that what was earlier discussed - an allowance of £300 per annum. But a one-time payment of £50 was agreed. Alas, it would seem that Storey drank away most of that settlement. All of his children were given stainless steel miniatures of the anchor. The following may well show one of those miniatures, possibly the initial 'stockless' anchor design.
The tradition further says that Byers, in 1906, threw himself under a train. Now it might be hoped that the Sunderland or Gateshead newspapers would have referred to the matter. But we now know that it happened in Edinburgh. Do be in touch if you can help with more information.
Colin Storey has now been in touch with further data about the 'Storey' family. He advises as follows:-
My great grandfather was George Oliver Storey (born 1842, died Dec. 8, 1906), older brother of Joseph Brewis Storey. George was also an anchorsmith. He lived in Monkwearmouth and according to family tradition was a foreman at Byer’s Sunderland works. George and Joseph’s father i.e. William Storey, and their grandfather, i.e. George Storey, were both described in the records variously as anchorsmiths & chain makers.
According to the tradition in our branch of the Storey family, George, together with his brother, invented the stockless anchor, although his brother, presumably Joseph, was rarely mentioned. The photograph at left shows a model of the original anchor (about 12 or 14 inches tall) which was in my family home until the death of my grandmother in 1966. The tradition further goes that this model was made in the washhouse of George's home at 26 Ripon St., Monkwearmouth, and was the pattern for the patent.
I was very familiar with the model from an early age. It does show a difference from the later Byers anchors, notably only one pair of lugs instead of two, presumably a later refinement. The black, irregular finish is due to many years of blackleading by both my grandmother & great grandmother - it was kept in the fireplace.
Further confirmation of the tradition in Joseph’s branch of the family is that George received, according to various versions, either £100 or £50 for the patent and drank most of it. This is consistent with an amount of £100, split between the two brothers who both had similar habits, beer drinking being traditional among smiths who lost a lot of fluid in the course of their work.
The following photograph, presumably taken for the Byers company for advertising purposes, shows an early example of the anchor. The photo is mounted on card and is approximately A4 size. The central figure is, we believe, George Storey. He certainly has the looks of a 'Storey'. A second, most similar image, can be seen here. The identity of the boy is not known. Colin's father thought that the small boy in it might have been his father, the son of George. But it may well have been someone from the Byers family.
After the death of my grandmother, both the model anchor & the above photograph, together with another two photos of a large Byers anchor were loaned by my father to the Sunderland Museum. They had the model on public display for a few years, describing it simply as a 'model anchor'. The model is no longer on display.
A 160 page book entitled 'Anchors The Illustrated History', by Betty N. (Nelson) Curryer, was published by 'Chatham Publishing', of London, in 1999. The volume would seem, per Book-Finder, to have had at least 4 additional publishers in 1999 & was republished by Chatham in 2003. It had at least a couple of different covers & very slightly different titles (at left). I mention all of this because I am advised that the book contains illustrations which show the location & meaning of markings on anchors manufactured in the U.K. (including therefore 'Byers' anchors), & in U.S.A.
The book also contains an illustration of a 'Byers' improved stockless anchor 'sanctioned' in 1923.
It would be wonderful to be able to include images of such illustrations in this 'Byers' section, but their inclusion is inappropriate without the necessary permissions.
However, it would appear that on British stockless anchors manufactured between 1864 & 1967 it was a legal requirement to test all anchors of above 168 pounds weight designed for merchant ships. Up until metric they were weighed in hundredweights (cwt), quarters (qrs) & pounds (lbs). The left fluke has a diamond within which shape is, in sequence, a) the mark of the assigning authority (e.g. Lloyd’s), b) the weight of the head, c) the surveyors initials, d) the number of the 'drop test' certificate & e) the date of the 'drop test'. The right fluke will have a circle - & within that circle is f) the proving house identification mark, g) the number of the test certificate, h) the number of the tensile test machine, i) the year of licence of the machine, & j) the applied proof strain & the government mark. The drop test? It was a test of the anchor by literally dropping it from 15 ft. (4.6 metres) onto a steel slab laid out on a concrete foundation. The shank of the anchor would have the same markings as on the right fluke & also, near the shackle, would record the total weight of the anchor.
Not included, it would seem, is a unique identifying sequential number, that had it been recorded, & were other records available, would permit the matching of a particular anchor to a specific ship.
All interesting information, for which I thank Nicholas Butcher & also the 'Nautical Archaeology Society', of Eastney, Portsmouth, U.K.
There have been a great many anchor designs over the centuries - but it will never be the purpose of this page to describe them all. You can read about many of them here. All of the anchors shown in the images above are 'stockless' anchors. But what does that term mean, & what exactly is a 'stock'? Hopefully the following will clarify the meaning.
At left above is a simple drawing of what most might consider to be a 'normal' anchor. With a few of its parts identified including the 'stock'. The anchor depicted is of a type often termed the 'Admiralty' design. Such an anchor would land on the seabed with its arms parallel to the seabed. The 'stock' would dig into the sea bottom & turn or twist the anchor until one of the flukes caught hold & dug in. The design had some problems - one of the flukes would clearly be exposed i.e. stick up from the seabed, & the anchor chain could & often did snag upon it & pull the anchor free. And ... the anchor was, due to its shape, difficult in practice to handle & to store on a ship's deck.
At right above is a drawing of a 'stockless' anchor, i.e. with the 'stock' removed. This anchor design was comparatively easy to handle & store. The anchor would be pulled by chain until the shank of the anchor was drawn within an opening or cavity in the ship's side, termed the 'hawsepipe'. The anchor's flukes would turn on their 'hinge' & come to rest against the exterior of the hull. All neat & simple. Such an anchor had a lesser holding power compared to an 'Admiralty' design anchor, but the ease of handling won out & over time lead to the almost universal adoption of the design.
Above a large 'stockless anchor'. And next is an image showing both types of anchor on display - it would seem at Lord Street, Fleetwood, Lancashire. Featuring - yes! - a 'Byers' anchor. Rather bigger than the 'models' depicted above, but still, I suspect, just a tiny such anchor.
MORE MINIATURE ANCHORS
1) Not related to W. L. Byers & Co. Ltd., but included here since the item may well be of interest to site visitors. On Jun. 24, 2014, a miniature anchor, marked 'JEFFREY' & 'L. KARA' was sold via e-Bay. For U.S. $15.00. Described by the vendor as a 'beautiful small antique anchor, marked on the flukes with both "JEFFREY" and a foundry mark. The shank has "L. KARA" marked on it. Weight: 4 lbs Height: 10 3/4 in. Width: 6 3/4 in.' A good looking miniature anchor indeed. Can anybody tell us more about it? Was Jeffery the name of the anchor manufacturer perhaps? If you can help any, possibly by identifying the 'jm' foundry mark, do consider being in touch with the webmaster. A composite of the seven listing images follows - a larger image is available by clicking the image.
Hylton Butterfield, a site visitor, has kindly been in touch & refers me to a reference (1 & 2) to an Ohio, U.S.A., company that may possibly relate. And it does relate - read on! The page advises as follows:- Another major player in Ohio’s labor history is the Jeffrey Manufacturing Company, headquartered in Columbus. Begun in 1887 when Joseph Jeffrey bought out his partners in the Lechner Mining Machine Co., Jeffrey manufactured mining machinery and other large-scale industrial equipment. Much of the equipment they produced–things like conveyors, drilling machines, bucket elevators, mine fans and coal cars–was used by other major Ohio industries, particularly coal mining in the southern part of the state. An extensive history of Jeffrey Manufacturing Company can be read here. While I could not spot any references in that document to anchors or to the name of Kara, an image on page 13 of the 'pdf' shows a piece of machinery with clearly the identical 'jm' mark upon it. Thanks so much, Hylton!
2) On Jan. 20, 2015, another miniature anchor - a truly miniature anchor in pewter, was sold via e-Bay. The listing is long gone. Described as being '1982 Miniature 2 3/4" Spoontiques #S717 Pewter Anchor Calabash NC' - 2 in. by 2 5/8 in. in size & 2 oz. in weight. It sold for U.S. $10.00. A pretty item indeed. A composite image follows - a larger image is available by clicking the image.
T. S. FORSTER & SONS LTD.
There are a number of references above to T. S. Forster & Sons Ltd. I note that a 1940s catalogue published by that company is e-Bay available as this page is updated in Feb. 2020. The company apparently operated out of the Copperas Bank Forge in Sunderland & had facilities at South Hylton also. The catalogue is e-Bay available here. Do drop by! Images of the cover & of a couple of its pages are below.
ROBERT WIGHT of SEAHAM
Clare Abbott in passing referred to her family ancestor, Robert Wight - Robert Wight made anchors & ships chains and knees at Seaham, though he mostly lived in Sunderland. I would so love to see just one anchor that he made!
The webmaster would like to see one of Robert Wight's anchors also!
TO END THE PAGE
For your pleasure and interest. An image surely appropriate for this page. Click the image to see the 'Delcampe' source.
A postcard published by Wildt & Kray of London, who apparently were in business from 1903 to 1915. Series 1085. Another copy of the card, available via 'Delcampe' as this is updated in Feb. 2020, refers to that particular card as being postmarked in 1907.
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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