Previous Toc Next

  THE STORY OF SHOREHA.N         THE " BRITANNIA "    
                         
The "Ropewalk" served its purpose for at least three hundred years, and it is quite probable that " Ropetackle "-more commonly "Raptackle "-the name applied to another part of the town nearer the river-is the site of a yet more ancient Ropewalk. As sail-makers the name of English has long enjoyed a world-wide reputation.   Our picture shows the barque " Britannia " on the stocks at the Old Shipyard. She was of about 800 tons burden and was one of the last to be launched from thence. Her bows were adorned with Britannia as a figure-head. Like many another ship of Shoreham, she sailed out from the harbour to return no more. In September, 1883, during a dense fog, she ran on to the north-east bar of Sable Island, the scene of many an ocean,
Edwards, Brown, and Olliver were building at Shoreham in 1804. About 1817, John Edwards took into partnership James Britton Bailey, a native of Littlehampton, who subsequently married his daughter, and into whose hands the business eventually passed.  
               
    Picture  
For many years the name of Bailey, as a builder of ships, was celebrated far and wide. Many noted vessels were launched from the Old Shipyard and they did much to raise the reputation of the port to its eminence for superior coasting vessels, as well as those built for foreign service and foreign owners.   A listby no means exhaustive-of brigs, barques, and schooners, built at the Old Shipyard from the years 1823 to 1853, serves to show that they were launched at the rate of four a year. At the same time there was a great deal of repair work going on. In the early years of the century, we hear of vessels being sent from London and other ports to Messrs. Edwards & Bailey's shipyard at Shoreham, "on aecount of the faithfulness of the work done there and the excellent oak timber which they used."      
Mr. Bailey died at Longcroft, Shoreham, 8th July, 1863. He left two sons, neither of whom long survived him, and the shipbuilding business was subsequently acquired by Mr. W. May, who continued to launch from the same yard brigs and barques, for which craft it had become so famous.      
To this firm succeeded Messrs. Dyer &. Son, who also carried on the traditions of the place. They were the last to build merchantships at Shoreham, and with the early eighties, the industry which had flourished for so many generations, ceased to be.      
It was always a gala-day in the town when a ship was launched. 'This ceremony, performed in the orthodox style, included the christening of the ship by a lady, who dashed a bottle o£ wine against the bows of the vessel, at the same time naming her. 'The launches were witnessed by large numbers of peopleshipowners, their friends, and others--and usually celebrated by a dinner or luncheon, and very frequently the day was brought to a close by a ball at the Swiss Gardens.                
  tragedy, a ccast dreaded by all mariners and well-known under its sinister name of the " grave-yard of the North Atlantic." The good ship " Britannia " became a total wreck and thirteen lives were lost.
  There were other shipbuilding yards on the Adur.   Messrs. May & Thwaites built many brigs, barques, and schooners at Kingston, somewhat westward of the spot where the lighthouse
                         
    156             157      

Previous Toc Next

Copyright © Martin Snow 2002 All rights reserved
Revised 27 February 2002