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Saturday, 26 December 2009

A little more History II.




The Rise and Fall of British Shipbuilding

In 1924 with no actual access to waterfront all vessels built by Henry Robb had been built in Dry Dock, this along with a natural need to grow the company necessitated the takeover of another Shipbuilder that had access to slipways and of course meant that any vessels could be built on slips and launched directly into the sea.
So in 1924 they acquired the Shipyard of Hawthorn and Co, along with the two berths that had been used to build trawlers and coasters of up to 1500dwt.So they began with 3 shipbuilding berths.
Then at the end of 1926 Henry Robb also took over the neighbouring yard of Cran and Somerville Ltd, a yard that had specialised in the building of tugs. Giving the Shipyard 4 building berths that could launch into the sea.
In 1934 Henry Robb acquired the next neighbouring yard of Ramage and Ferguson, another famous old Shipbuilding yard in Leith, which had built almost 300 Ships up to the time of takeover by Henry Robb. This famous yard built many fine ships including the Sail Training Ship Kobenhavn, and the Mercator.


The Mercator in Ostend.
The following is a little bit of history in tribute to the men of the Ramage and Ferguson yard, as most of those men would have transferred their undoubted skills to the Henry Robb yard they are also part of the story
The barquentine Mercator lies at anchor in Ostend, Belgium She was named after Geradus Mercator.
(1512-1594), Flemish cartographer. She was designed by the Antarctic explorer Adrien de Gerlache
(1866-1934) as a training ship for the Belgian merchant fleet. She was built in Ramage & Ferguson, Leith, Scotland and launched in 1932.
Besides being a training a ship, she was also used, mainly before World War II , for scientific observations, or as ambassador for Belgium on world fairs and in sailing events.

Mercator at Sea.
She participated in several races, winning the Oslo-Ostend race.
During World War II she was commissioned into the Royal Navy as HMS Mercator. Based in Freetown Sierra Leon where she was used as a support ship for submarine forces in the area.
In 1961 she became a floating museum, first in Antwerp,and finally from 1964 in the marina of Ostend, just in front of the city hall.
During all this time, she has become perhaps the best-known ship of Belgium.
So by 1934 Henry Robb Shipyard had a total of nine building berths all launching directly into the sea.

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