Built by JAMES POLLOCK, SONS & C0 Ltd. Naval Architects, Shipbuilders and Engineers, 3 LLOYDS AVENUE, LONDON, E.C.3. SHIPYARD, FAVERSHAM, ENGLAND.

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Tug Swallow Sketch 3 crop_139 Swallow 6 National Historic Registerd Ships flag 2



A Sideways Launch. History of James Pollock, Sons & Co. Ltd. Shipbuilders and Engineers of London and Faversham, 1875-1970.

The Technical and Social History of James Pollock, Sons & Co. Ltd., Shipbuilders and Engineers of London and Faversham, 1875 - 1970



About the Author;


Anne Salmon works as a Chartered Town Planner. She has grown up in Faversham  and has a keen interest in it's history and townscape. She is a member of the Faversham Society Historians Group and her particular interest is in the creek and shipping.


Her grandfather and great uncle both worked at the Faversham yard of James Pollock, Sons & Co. Ltd, so she has a personal connection with this company which was for most of the century a major employer in the town.


The book collates the collective memories of some of the many people who worked for the company, together with company records and the company history recorded by Walter Pollock who steered the company through the first half of the century. It illustrates the development of motor tugs and coasters for the London River and a wealth of international contacts possessed by this small, but obviously influential company.


ISBN 0948193 689


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A Brief History of Shipbuilding at Faversham

The founder of the firm, the late Mr James Pollock, was, as a young man, somewhat of an adventurer and became attracted to the unusual. Several years before the company was formed he sailed to Vladivostock with the necessary parts to build a steam tug, the General Kharsakov. On arrival he supervised her construction and spent some time travelling across Russia before eventually returning to England. After several other adventures Mr Pollock set up in London as a consulting engineer and naval architect in 1875.


Many unusual craft were built in these early days under his supervision including a paddle steamer for the Tigris and another for the Amazon. In 1883 a ferry for the Tilbury - Gravesend service was built and two years later a floating dock for Australia. During his supervision of the steamer Puri at Dundee in 1994, the umbrella Mr Pollock always carried proved it's worth. During his inspection he pushed it right into one of the large cast-iron columns of the main engine, and by doing so had detected a serious casting fault.


In the early 1900s Pollocks built two steamers, the Guanabocoa and the Antonio Lemos, both of which were delivered across the Atlantic under their own power. The former was a Pennsylvania ferry, and the latter, even more unusual, a stern wheeler for the Amazon. Much of the firm's work at this time came from the South American continent, especially in the form of small craft, which were in many cases ordered straight from an illustrated catalogue.


Mr James Pollock died in 1910 and his son Mr Walter Pollock carried on the business. In 1914 he was asked to lay out the shipyard at Faversham. This request came from Lord Fisher, First Sea Lord, the reason being the need for the construction of a large number of shallow draft landing craft for use in the North Sea. These were known as Black Beetles or X class lighters. With the shortage of steel in 1917 the firm pioneered the use of reinforced concrete in the two motor coasters, Molliette and Violette. These had a cargo capacity of 300 tons and engines of 120bhp.


In the two years following the First World War, three coasters were designed and operated by the company, the Linton, Leelee and Lutona, all of which were diesel-powered. Coasters played a large part in the business of Pollocks, their Landa and Landina designs of the 1930s being a great success. Since that period, well over 30 coasters were built, including the Goldhind, Capacity and The Duchess. In addition many small tankers were constructed at Faversham, mainly for the transportation of lubricating and bunkering oils. These vessels were called Lido, Alco, British Maiden and in 1955 the Voith-Schnieder propelled by B.P. Haulier.


As is the case of many such shipbuilders the Second Worls War was an extremely busy time for the company. The craft built were mainly of a specialised nature; stores vessels, landing craft and ammunition ships. Probably the most interesting and certainly the largest were the two Fleet Air Arm auxilaries each of 1,000 tons displacement. In 1945 the company expanded the shipyard for the third time in it's history, to bring the total acreage of the yard to eleven. It also had it's own power station to supply electricity and the slipway could accommodate ships up to 120 feet in length, to be lauched  broadside into Faversham Creek.


Since the war James Pollock and Sons continued to build craft of an unusual nature, which included several salvage vessels, two of which, Stoneless and Broadness were built for the Port of London Authority in 1955 and 1956. They were vessels of 231 gross tons and were propelled by diesel-electric machinery, with Rolls Royce main engines. A similar but smaller ship, the Seahorse, was supplied to the Southampton Harbour Board.


Perhaps the most unusual job of all, and certainly a great achievement, was the construction in 1961 of a huge land reclaimation plant for the Port of London. This plant woud pump ashore dredged spoil from hopper barges and dredgers, at a rate of 1,500 tons per hour. The power for this floating installation was provided by four Crossley oil engines driving the various pumps and generators. This construction also included the manufacture of over 3,000 feet of 27 inch steel pipeline.


Tugs were always a speciality of Pollocks since their first motor tug, the Grove Place was built in 1915. Very many motor tugs including Swallow were built in subsequent years, a great number for use in the Thames lighterage industry. In pre-war days these craft were often supplied from stock, as it was the practice to build to standard designs, which proved very popular. Many of these tugs were sent abroad


For 94 years James Pollock and Sons Ltd had built 2148 specialised small craft - barges, tugs, ferries and coasters varying in size up to 1,100 tons d.w. On Friday 27th February 1970, James Pollock, Sons & Co Ltd shipyard closed for the last time after falling into receivership. This long-established family firm had a first class team of skilled craftsmen, built some remarkable vessels of unquestionable quality, who could still perform technically as well as any, but had simply run out of money.

Removal of Pollock's Records to the Greenwich National Maritime Museum

Aware of the importance of the firm of Pollock's contribution to the technical development of shipping, Lt. Cdr. Waite from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, arrived at the shipyard and collected together all of the remaining plans and administration records, including sales ledgers and photos of all the vessels that had been built at the Faversham Shipyard. These are now stored at the Greenwich Maritime Museum under the 'Pollock's Collection'.