Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Swan Hunter, formerly known as "Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson", is one of the best known shipbuilding companies in the United Kingdom. Based in Wallsend, Tyne & Wear, the company was responsible for some of the greatest ships of the early 20th century - most famously, the RMS Mauretania which held the Blue Riband for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic, and the RMS Carpathia which rescued the survivors from the RMS Titanic.
As the name suggests, the company represented the combined forces of three powerful shipbuilding families: Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson.
Swan & Hunter was formed in 1880. In 1903, it merged with Wigham Richardson (founded by John Wigham Richardson as Neptune Works in 1860), specifically to bid for the prestigious contract to build the Mauretania on behalf of Cunard. Their bid was successful, and the new company, Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd, went on to build what was to become, in its day, the most famous ocean going liner in the world. [RMS Mauretania] was launched from Wallsend on Tyne on 20th September 1906 to the cheers of huge crowds, she left service in 1935.
The shipyard survived until 1993 - then trading as "Swan Hunter" - when it was forced to call in the receivers after the UK government awarded the contract for HMS Ocean to Kvaerner Govan for a cut down price, which later turned out to be artificial. The final cost of the ship was more than £50 million in excess of Swan Hunter's quoted tender. The ship has been dogged with problems ever since as the UK government failed to recognise the depth of expertise within Swan Hunter. The ship was based on the design of the Invincible-class aircraft carriers, two of which were built at Swan Hunter, but the tender process failed to take note of this fact.
Swan Hunter once owned the Wallsend Slipway & Engineering Company , which built the engines for some of its greatest ships. The company was an early manufacturer of Charles Parsons turbine engines, which enabled the Mauretania to achieve its great speed.
Present & future
Swan Hunter was rescued from receivership by Jaap Kroese , a Dutch millionaire. Today, the yard is building ships once again, the first on the Tyne for 10 years, and is tipped to be a key partner in the construction of new aircraft carriers (future Royal Navy carriers) for the Royal Navy.
Ships built by Swan Hunter
This is a partial list
- HMS Ark Royal
- HMS Illustrious (R06)
- RFA Fort George
- Type 23 frigates
Augustina (1927) Aurania (1916) Ascania (1911) Carpathia (1902) Esso Northumbria (1969) Esso Hibernia (1969) Franconia (1910) HMS Gambia (1940) Helcion (1954) Heldia (1955) Helisoma (1956) Helix (1953) Imbricaria (1935) Ivernia (1899) Kossmatella (1953) Laconia (1911) Mauretania (1906) HMS Mauritius (1941) Mitra (1912) Mytilus (1916) Nacella (1968) Narica (1967) Neverita (1944) Shell Supplier (1946) Solen (1961) Varicella (1959) Velletia (1952) Velutina (1950) Volvula (1956) Zaphon (1957)
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