Tyneside Tug Builders in alphabetical order of Surname

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KEY BELOW: D / H / P --- D = basic dimensions shown; H = history given; P = photograph(s) included.

Shipbuilder: Andrew Leslie & Co, Hebburn

Shipbuilder: R & W Hawthorn, Leslie & Co Ltd

Andrew Leslie & Co: 1853
R & W Hawthorn, Leslie & Co: 1885
Swan Hunter Group: 1986
British Shipbuilders: 1977
Closed: 1982

Andrew Leslie & Co

Andrew Leslie (1818-1894) was Shetland-born, with work experience at Aberdeen in shipbuilding, and credited with a brief partnership with John Coutts on his arrival. He reclaimed much river frontage, by use of contents of Hebburn Ballast Hill to set up ground for his shipbuilding yard. As sole proprietor of Hebburn Shipyard, he laid the foundations of a shrewdly-run firm that became highly respected name in shipbuilding and marine engineering.

Leslie recruited many workers from North East Scotland, many to found long-serving families and earn Hebburn Quay the nickname of 'Little Aberdeen.' This largely self-contained community had 400 Leslie-built houses near the Yard, and they in turn made a large contribution to the erection of Institute / Schools next to St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, whose 200 ft steeple is still a riverside landmark today.

The original firm launched 255 ships at Hebburn until 1885, also constructing a useful dry dock in 1866, which still exists and brought additional income from ship repair work.

Andrew Leslie retired in 1884, and his much younger partner Arthur Coote (married to Leslie's adopted daughter) quickly made a partnership with locomotive and marine engine builder, R & W Hawthorn of Newcastle. The new firm, R & W Hawthorn, Leslie & Co now controlled the Loco Works at Forth Banks in Newcastle; the Marine Engine Works at St Peters and the Hebburn Shipyard.

Andrew Leslie died peacefully at his home Coxlodge Hall, Gosforth in 1894, and his funeral procession to Newcastle Central Station was a huge affair with hundreds of his old foremen and workers walking the four miles en route, to see him 'awa hame' on a special train to Edinburgh, for burial at the family plot in Leith Cemetery.

R & W Hawthorn, Leslie & Co

Shipbuilding continued at Hebburn Quay, the site of Andrew Leslie's original 1853 Hebburn Shipyard. Many of these ships were engined by the firm's own St Peters Works. The production of this famous yard ran from Yard No. 258 "PORT PIRIE" 1886, to their final ship, Yard No.766 "WILTSHIRE" of 1968. The yard list shows a great variety of vessels, such as passenger ships, early oil tankers, British and Foreign naval vessels and Great Lake Steamers.

A predictably busy period during World War Two was followed by a period of a full order book as the job of replacing lost tonnage for mainly British companies was undertaken. The postwar 'boom' started to tail-off about 1955 and orders became scarce, so that by 1967, the firm was receptive to a proposal for a 'consortium' of Tyneside shipbuilders. This had been recommended by the Geddes Report on Shipbuilding as a solution to overcapacity and agressive foreign competition. The consortium was to consist of themselves, Swan Hunter, Vickers Walker Naval Yard, Readheads and Clelands.

The consortium came into being on 1 January 1968, as 'Swan Hunter & Tyne Shipbuilders Ltd'. Further decline took place and in 1977 the yards were Nationalised and 'British Shipbuilders' succeeded the Consortium, as owners of Hebburn Shipyard. But the decline in fortunes continued and the yard closed in 1982.


The following is a list of tugs built by Andrew Leslie & Co:

Yd No Year Tug Name D / H / P
20 1859 Rover D / H
1866 Liverpool D / H / P
91 1868 Sokol D / H
178 1877 Boko D / H / P
206 1879 Eileen D / H
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The following is a list of tugs built by R & W Hawthorn, Leslie & Co Ltd:

Yd No Year Tug Name D / H / P
349 1897 Siberiak D
414 1907 Active D / H
430 1909 Chapala D / H / P
526 1920 Mon D / H / P
527 1920 Yaw D / H / P
551 1928 Mataco D / H
552 1928 Toba D / H / P
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