Shipyard a big factor in growth to Barrow

12 June 2017 5:10PM

WILLIAM Ashburner brought commercial shipbuilding to Barrow having learned his trade at Ulverston and Douglas on the Isle of Man.

He set up close to what would become Barrow’s Devonshire Dock.

His first completed ship was a 94-ton schooner called the Jane Roper in 1852.

The big change in scale came in 1870 with the setting up of the Barrow Iron Shipbuilding Company on Old Barrow Island.

The yard was planned and managed by Robert Duncan, from Scotland.

Its first ship was the steam yacht Aries which was launched in May 1873 for Sir James Ramsden - a director of the company.

In 1877 the yard buit its first warships - a move of great significance for the later history and prosperity of the town.

What would be the first of many, were gunboats called Foxhond and Forward.

In 1881 came the 8,400-ton liner City of Rome for the Inman line - and designed for Atlantic crossings.

Then, in 1886, came the town's first submarine.

It was built to plans by the Swedish gun designer T. Nordenfeldt and sold in a kit of parts to the Turkish government.

The Barrow yard was taken over by the Naval Construction and Armaments Company in 1888 and a year later won the town its first major with the Admiralty for three cruisers.

In 1897 the name changed to Vickers Sons and Maxim which brought armaments manufacture to the town - and the ability to make vessels for the Royal Navy, complete with guns, mountings and shells.

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