In 1851, Sir Charles Mark Palmer and his brother George made a significant decision to establish a shipyard in Jarrow, located on the south bank of the River Tyne in South Tyneside, England. At the time, Jarrow was a small colliery village situated between Hebburn and South Shields. The brothers chose to set up their company on the site of a previous shipyard that had constructed wooden warships for the Napoleonic Wars, signaling their intent to shift to building ships made of metal instead.
Over time, Jarrow experienced significant growth, with its population expanding from a small village to a town housing over 40,000 residents in the early 1900s.
The Palmer Shipyard became the backbone of the working community and would become the one most single source of employment in Jarrow.
However, the town would later face immense hardship during the Great Depression and the early 1930s, which would result in profound challenges for the workforce and the overall well-being of the town.
Palmer Brothers Shipping
The ability to build well-constructed ships soon earned Palmer worldwide recognition. By 1909 as well as having berths for the construction of ships Palmer had to establish blast furnaces, iron and steelworks, and a boiler and engine work on the site. The dock itself Stretched nearly three-quarters of a mile along the southern bank of the River Tyne.
On and off for almost 9 years in the late 1800s, the Palmer Shipbuilding Company went on to have the highest output of ships in Britain. During the company’s lifetime of some 80yrs. Palmer shipyard would launch more than 900 ships, keeping careful details of each ship built.
Prior to the construction of the John Bowes launched on the river in June 1852, an iron paddle tug called the Northumberland launched in April 1852, was the first of his ships, small and of little consequence in an industry that would develop into major suppliers of ships.
During the early 1900s, the small village of Jarrow experienced remarkable population growth, evolving into a town with over 40,000 residents. The Palmer Shipyard became the dominant force in the local community, serving as the primary source of employment for the town’s inhabitants. However, the subsequent years, particularly during the Great Depression and the early 1930s, brought immense challenges that deeply impacted the workforce and the town as a whole. The once-thriving community faced a significant decline in economic activity and widespread hardship.
The reputation of Palmer Shipyard extended far beyond the local community, as the company’s ability to construct well-built ships gained global recognition. By 1909, the shipyard not only had berths for ship construction but also established blast furnaces, iron and steelworks, and a boiler and engine works on-site. The dock itself stretched nearly three-quarters of a mile along the southern bank of the River Tyne, a testament to the scale of the operations.
The Palmer Shipbuilding Company, founded by Sir Charles Mark Palmer and his brother George, achieved remarkable success in the shipbuilding industry. During its approximately 80-year lifespan, the company launched more than 900 ships, each meticulously documented in its records. For nearly nine years in the late 1800s, the Palmer Shipbuilding Company boasted the highest ship output in Britain, highlighting its prominence and influence in the industry.
The early ships constructed by the company, such as the Northumberland, an iron paddle tug launched in April 1852, were relatively modest in size and significance compared to the future vessels they would go on to build. However, these early ventures laid the foundation for a shipbuilding empire that would make a significant impact on the industry and the town of Jarrow itself.
The historical context of the Palmer Shipbuilding Company’s rise to prominence and its profound impact on Jarrow’s economy and identity underscores the remarkable journey and legacy of Sir Charles Mark Palmer and his brother George in the shipbuilding industry
I recommend a visit to the family website of Philip Strong he has some impressive photographs of the Palmer shipyard engineering works, machine shop, a footprint of the Palmer’s Works, 1897/1907 OS maps of the area, aerial Views of Palmer’s Shipyard, photographs of Jarrow back in the 1960s and for those who are also keen on genealogy he walks you through his family tree and shows what can be done when you put your mind to it.
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