Thames-built HMS Warrior now in Portsmouth harbour.Pic: PHD

The Thames Ironworks Heritage Trust has been officially launched with the goal of reviving the shipbuilding and the wider manufacturing heritage of east London.

The charity aims to do this primarily through the restoration of a number of Thames Ironworks-made lifeboats close to the place where they were originally built over 100 years ago, creating employment and new skills for apprentices in the process.

Thames Ironworks opened in 1837 and within a few years had risen to become one of the greatest shipbuilding firms in the United Kingdom, producing warships for the Royal Navy and foreign navies, among many other engineering innovations of the Victorian era.

Among other claims to fame is the building of HMS Warrior (pictured above) that with her sister ship HMS Black Prince were the  navy’s the first armour-plated, iron-hulled warships.

The trust was officially launched at Cody Dock, in Canning Town, next to the original shipyard site as one of the lifeboats was returned ready for restoration. When restored, the boats will be put to work in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and surrounding east London waterways, conducting heritage-focused tours of the area.

The trust says the tours will bring an educational aspect to the newly-restored waterways as well as offering further opportunities for employment and training to young people.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, described the Trust’s project as “an intriguing and valuable endeavour to support London's unique shipbuilding heritage.” He added: “I also support the idea of creating new career opportunities for young people in east London to develop these valuable and lost skills."

The Thames Ironworks closed in 1912 as Thames shipbuilding declined and  immediately after completing HMS Thunderer, which along with a number of other Thames Ironworks-produced battleships, went on to serve the nation during the First World War.

Prior to its closure, the company’s football team, Thames Ironworks FC, re-named itself as one of the conditions of becoming a professional team. It has since been called West Ham United.

More on the Thames Ironworks Heritage Trust WEBSITE

Story dated Dec 2nd 2013

Contact us Terms & Conditions About Us