A&P Group’s Teesside shipyard – where hundreds of vessels were built in the last century – is celebrating the launch of a book about it’s proud past.
The Tees yard has funded the publication of a book recording the yard’s illustrious history, starting in 1908 as Smith’s Dock, right up to date under the ownership of the A&P Group.
Local author Wilf Austin spent the first six years of his working life at
Smith’s Dock, South Bank in the 1960s and remembers them with pride and
affection. Once retired, he wrote “A Shipyard Centennial” to ensure the amazing
achievements of this relatively small yard wouldn’t be forgotten.
He personally financed a limited edition of 100 earlier this year and it proved
so popular it sold out within a fortnight.
When A&P Tees heard of Wilf’s work they bought ten copies to gift to some of
their clients – including Cemex Marine, Hanson Aggregate, Global Marine and
Gulf Offshore – and were amazed at the feedback.
A&P Tees Commercial Director Ian Douglas said: “We had no idea there was so
much interest in the yard from throughout the area and the marine industry. We
had lots of requests for copies but were unable to help as it sold out so
“We loved the book, it really captured the spirit of the yard, and we thought
it deserved our support. Publishing is an expensive business so we offered to
pay for a second extended edition of 500 copies, charting the yard’s progress
right up to date.”
The new edition, which is 50% bigger than the first, goes on sale this week at
Waterstones in Middlesbrough, The Guisborough Book Shop and Atkinsons Print in Hartlepool.
Wilf was overwhelmed by the interest in Teesside yard, which built over 900
vessels for customers worldwide, ranging from whalers to warships, and won
affection and loyalty from its workforce and its clients.
He said: “Copies went all over the world, from New York to Norway, but demand
outstripped supply which, unfortunately, left a lot of people disappointed.
“I was elated when A&P Tees said they would like to sponsor a second edition.
It is much bigger and includes a new chapter on apprenticeships, something A&P
is very keen on.
“It’s marvellous really, this is a story about a shipyard that did wonderful
things and here we are, more than 100 years later, and it’s still doing
wonderful things. Those docks, which were built for the growing marine business
on the Tees, are still being used today.
“A&P Tees don’t build ships but they maintain, repair and convert vessels and
the skills are still the same, they’re being kept alive, which is crucial.
“The yard has said it would like to donate a copy to each of the sixth-form
colleges and academies on Teesside, so that a small part of the story of the
River Tees is preserved. I think that’s a brilliant idea.
“Shipping is still a big business in the UK and something young people should
really get switched onto because there are lots of opportunities career-wise.”