Shipbuilding in Barrow

Barrow today is synonymous with shipbuilding. But this company has had many name changes, ups and downs and produced many innovative products since its launch in the late nineteenth century.

From being a firm with a wide shipbuilding and engineering portfolio, able to build, engine and arm submarines, warships and also civilian vessels such as tankers and liners, the shipyard has become a one-product company. However, the submarines that it builds today are of staggering complexity.

The first ship launched by the shipyard was the passenger cargo ship, the Duke of Devonshire in 1873 (see above right). Within a couple of decades the yard had a reputation for innovation that helped it gain contracts for submarines, airships, liners, engines and armaments. Numbers of workers in the shipyard have varied from a high of 31,000 in January 1917 down to a few thousand in the 1990s.

If you want to find out more about this fascinating history then come to the Dock Museum for a visit or even a guided tour (booking essential for tours).


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1 hour from the M6 through the south lakes

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