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Palmers (Tyne)

Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company Limited, often referred to simply as Palmers, was a British shipbuilding company. The Company was based in Jarrow, in Northeast England and also had operations in Hebburn and Willington Quay on the River Tyne.

The company was established in 1852 by Charles Mark Palmer as Palmer Brothers & Co. in Jarrow. Later that year it launched the John Bowes, an iron-screw collier which was much faster than any sailing ship. Eventually the works produced and rolled the steel for the ships on the huge industrial site that was Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company. In 1910 Sir Charles Palmer's interest in the business was acquired by Lord Furness who, as Chairman, expanded the business by acquiring a lease over a new graving dock at Hebburn from Robert Stephenson and Company. In 1919 Palmers laid down a notable ship the SS Gairsoppa, which was sunk by a German U-boat in 1941 carrying the largest precious metals cargo of a vessel ever sunk in world history.

Palmers collapsed in 1933 and the Jarrow yard was sold to National Shipbuilders Securities Ltd, who closed it down, causing much unemployment and the Jarrow March. After the shipyard closed Sir John Jarvis used the building that comprised engine shop as a steel foundry, the steel coming from the breakers yard that scrapped the White Star liner Olympic and the Berengaria.

The Company, which still retained the yard at Hebburn, was subsequently acquired by Armstrong Whitworth and became Palmers Hebburn Company Limited. In 1973 Vickers-Armstrongs sold the Palmers Dock at Hebburn to Swan Hunter and developed it as the Hebburn Shipbuilding Dock: this facility was subsequently acquired from the receivers of Swan Hunter by Tyne Tees Dockyard Limited in 1994 and then sold on to A&P Group in 1995. The yard remains in use as a ship repair and refurbishment facility.


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