Boat launch reignites Tees ship-building heritage

Ship-building has returned to the River Tees after a 10-year hiatus with the launch of Summer Rose reigniting Teesside’s industrial heritage.

Macdonald Offshore and Marine completed the building of the 20.5m scallop trawler that is now in Whitby for fit-out before being put to service by the Oban-based Star Fishing Company.

The boat was built by Macdonald Offshore and Marine after owners Steve Macdonald and Steve Osbaldeston took over 64m-long riverside facilities off Dockside Road in Middlesbrough earlier this year.

The boat took six months to build, with a tea of up to 44 platers and welders working on the project at its peak.

Teesside’s last ship set sail from the same facility, then owned by Dennis Aveling, a decade ago – and a number of experienced shipwrights returned to their old industry to work on Summer Rose.

The firm hopes it will be the first of many boats it builds on the Tees, with talks at an advanced stage over further contracts.

If current talks reach a successful conclusion, Macdonald Offshore and Marine hope to have up to 60 staff working five days a week around the clock during 2018.

Steve Macdonald told Tees Business: “We took over the fabrication facilities with a view to getting involved in the renewables and marine market sectors. The opportunity came along to quote for building the boat and we were delighted to win the contract.

“It was a great feeling to see the boat in the water for the first time. It’s a little bit of history. It was a challenge, of course, but it fills you full of pride.

“We do hope this is the first of many. We’re currently quoting for huge 34m-long barges for the Thames, but there are also exciting prospects for the renewables sector too.”

The River Tees once played host to six shipbuilding firms. In 1892, the shipyards of Teesside accounted for 15% of world production.

 

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