About this Website For much of the 1960’s and 70’s the view of Berwick upon Tweed from Tweedmouth was dominated by the Berwick Shipyard crane. For the spectator the view would have been punctuated by the sound of metal on metal, the sight of sparks and the eerie white glow of acetylene torches. The small steel vessels built on the Quay Walls site would never match the leviathans constructed elsewhere in terms of size. Yet, within a short period the ships built on the Tweed would establish the name of Berwick Shipyard throughout the world. In 1979 after a 29-year burst of activity the yard fell silent ending the modern era of shipbuilding on the Tweed. Today little remains as a reminder of an industry that had first been established at Berwick more than 200 years previously. Once the beating heart of the town, the former shipyard site has been cleaned up, many buildings have been demolished and the concrete slipway from which many vessels were launched is now filled in. The purpose of this website is to keep the history and memory of shipbuilding at Berwick alive. From 1950 – 1972 my late father, Wullie Swan (right), was employed at the yard as a ship’s driller. I was struck by how little accessible information there was about the yard and the vessels that were completed there. Snippets of information could be gleaned from the internet, book searches and first hand testimony from those with knowledge to share, however, there was no central depository or a definitive easily accessible information source. It was also revealing to discover that many younger people in Berwick and incomers to the town seemed unaware that shipbuilding was once an important source of employment and contributor to the local economy. A chance encounter with fellow ex-Berwick Grammar School pupil Graham Toward provided the impetus to research the yard and develop this website. Graham has researched and written on different aspects of the fishing industry and has a wide network of contacts both in Berwick and beyond. He had previously researched the history and technical specifications of every steel motor fishing vessels built at Berwick over the years. His willingness to share knowledge, information, materials and contacts was invaluable and without his help it is doubtful that this website would have been possible. With Graham’s help and support I was able to gather information from a range of primary and secondary sources including archived copies of the Berwick Advertiser, books, articles and photographs. A number of individuals who once worked at the yard also provided personal recollections and anecdotes. In the world-wide ship enthusiasts community various ‘subject experts’ were willing to share information and undertake research on my behalf. Information was also obtained from owners of Berwick-built vessels still in service and from contacts from across the globe including Australia, New Zealand and the United States. The first version of this website was ‘live’ from 2007. The current version retains much of the original information but includes additional text and photographs and should also provide the visitor with an improved browsing experience. Acknowledgements It is not possible to acknowledge all of the the many individuals who have contributed to this site over the years. Acknowledgements Photo acknowledgements are given in image captions. Special thanks however, are due to a number of individuals for their kindness and assistance in sourcing information and providing permission to use photographs. These include Janet Wakenshaw, (former editor of the Berwick Advertiser), Ken Hitcham, (former Managing Director, Ward-Philipson), Ian Smith (Berwick Photo Centre), Donald Smith (Aberdeenshire), Philip Simons (Surrey), John Richardson (Australia), Ian Havery, Denham Redfearn, James McLeod, Bill Todd, Priddy Swinney, Bob Lee, Marshall Lee, Les Swan (former employees), Alan Bell (Berwick), Linda Bankier (Berwick Records Office), Mike Mullaly, Kevin Blair, Ron Mappelbeck, Alex Landels, Jim Pottinger, George Robinson, David Asprey, Michael Phillips, Dave Linkie, Mike Craine, Davie Tait, Mike Leslie, Pat Swanson, Krispin Atkinson, Ian Whittaker, Chris Bancroft, Chris Green, Mrs Kay Blackwood, Lee Christie, Richard Cox, Berwick Library Staff, National Maritime Museum, London, National Libraries of Scotland, Edinburgh. Copyright This is a non-profit reference site that is not supported by commercial funding in any way. The images presented on the site are displayed with the permission of the various copyright holders who are acknowledged on the relevant pages. In a very small number of cases, despite all reasonable enquiries, it has not been possible to identify image copyright holders. In these circumstances the picture caption displays the name of the private collection from which the image was taken. If anyone believes that they hold the copyright to one of these images or considers that the copyright on an image displayed on the site has been wrongly attributed, could they please get in touch. I will add or rectify the copyright acknowledgement or alternatively remove the image from the site as appropriate. All images displayed on the site remain the property of the relevant copyright holders. Most come from private collections. As a consequence I am unable to provide copies. A number of text-based articles and quotes on the site have been written and reproduced with the permission of various contributors who remain the copyright holders. The authors of these articles are acknowledged on the relevant pages. The Berwick Advertiser was one of several businesses, (including the Photo Centre, bridge Street), that kindly gave permission to allow photographs connected with Berwick Shipyard to be used on this website. In the photo on the right a trailer towing a twin-screw tug built for British Guyana is turning into Golden Square at the top of Marygate before heading south over the Tweed Bridge. The Berwick Advertiser offices and the old bus station can be seen in the background. This picture was taken in July 1956. The bunting in the picture was erected for a royal visit to the town during the same week that the tug left Berwick.
TOP The site of Berwick Shipyard in 1979 and 2007 viewed from the Tweed Dock. Photos: © Billy Swan
Former employees of Berwick Shipyard pictured at Berwick Guildhall on Friday 9th November 2007. Click Photo to enlarge.
Top Row   The main entrance to Berwick Shipyard. Pictures taken in 2006 and 1970. Photos: Billy Swan and Iain HaveryBottom Row -  The site of one of the yard's plate fabrication shed. The only reminder of the it's former use is a concrete anchor point (centre left) for one of the upright steel stanchions of the plate fabrication shed. In 2021 the yard was being used as a car park. Photos: © Billy Swan (left) Berwick Advertiser (right). A 44’ River Tug built for Booker McConnell on the first leg of the journey to British Guyana. Photo: © Berwick Advertiser


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