Charles Palmer: In The Begining

Sir Charles Mark Palmer and his brother George set up a shipyard at Jarrow on the south bank of the River Tyne. Jarrow lies between Hebburn and South Shields. The year was 1851 and the new company was opened on the site of an earlier yard, that had built wooden warships for the Napoleonic Wars.

Sir Charles Palmer
Sir Charles Palmer

The intention of the two brothers was to open their company in Jarrow, which back then was only a small colliery village, to build ships made from metal rather than wood. Jarrow is also the Monastic home of our earliest English historian the Venerable Bede. The early 1900’s would see the population of this small village grow to a town with more than 40,000 residents. Palmer shipyard would be the backbone of the working community and would become the one most single source of employment in Jarrow. However, sadly in later years to come (the great depression the early 1930’s) this fact would lead to an almost living death for the workforce of this now large town.

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 steel works, and a boiler and engine work on the site. The dock it-self Stretched nearly three-quarters of a mile along the southern bank of the River Tyne.

I assume if you have read this far then you may have an interest in the past history of shipbuilding or the mighty industry of Sir Charles and his brother George Palmer who established their shipbuilding industry on the south banks of the River Tyne.

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 1960’s 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.

On and off for almost 9 years in the late 1800’s 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 a major supplier of ships.

Next Page: The John Bowes Steamship


Attended state schools (St Peters & Paul's) Spent my last 4 years attending St Cuthbert Secondary. Driver and warehouse manager 25 years plus. Spent 16+ years attending Newcastle Uni and North Tyneside College. (Humanistic approaches in Counselling). Qualified some years ago. Don’t have many dislikes apart from people who try to be something they’re not (conveniently forget where their roots are), and I do not suffer fools easily so they tell me, or people that over talk others. I eat and drink to live, love all kinds of music, places of interest, photography, Singing, computing, reading for pleasure (mostly supernatural/horror, James Herbert / Stephen King), and swimming.

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