Shipbuilding in Frindsbury

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Frindsbury TQ744697 51°23′58″N 0°30′29″E / 51.399423°N 0.508127°E / 51.399423; 0.508127 is a parish on the River Medway, on the opposite bank to Chatham Dockyard in Kent, England. It was a centre of ship building before 1820, building at least six 74 gun third rate, ships of the line and many smaller vessels. From 1820, until recent times, the ship yards built over 100 Thames sailing barges. Shipbuilding has stopped but in 2006, one yard was still active in ship repair.


Quarry House Yard[edit]

Edward Greaves and Nicholson set up at the Quarry House yard in c.1745. The full list of ships built is unknown but two of the later ones were:[1]

  • 1785 HMS Meleager—32 gun frigate was part of a squadron off the coast of Genoa in 1794 under the command of Captain Horatio Nelson.
  • 1786 HMS Bellerophon—74 gun designed by Sir Thomas Slade. Laid down in 1783, she was launched on 6 October 1786 and commissioned on 19 July 1790. Nicknamed the "Billy Ruffian". She destroyed the French flagship L'Orient at the Battle of the Nile. Fought at Trafalgar. On 15 July 1815 she received the surrender of Napoleon Bonaparte.[2] She was renamed Captivity and served as a prison hulk off Sheerness. She was sold to breakers at Plymouth for £4030 and broken up in 1834. The construction of the Bellerophon features in a poem by the American Imagist poet Amy Lowell.

Josiah and Thomas Brindley, leased the Quarry House yard. The first ship was launched from here in 1794. They expanded, built a new yard which became the entrance to the Thames and Medway Canal, then a third shipyard further down river.[1] They built no more ships for the Navy after the Napoleonic War. However they did continue shipbuilding. In 1821 they built the McQueen East India Man and in 1825 the British Steam and Navigation Company contracted them to build a steamship. When the Brindleys were declared bankrupt in 1826 they lost their shipyards and all their other businesses. It had been thought that Josiah and Thomas Brindley were nephews of Lord Nelson but the Nelson family has said there is no relationship.

[4] [5] [6]

Wilson and Co

John Pelham

John King of Upnor

Barge Building[edit]

Frindsbury was an important centre for building of Thames sailing barges, using the land vacated by the shipbuilders. Barges were needed for many reasons; on the Medway it was for cement, brick and lime.[1][7]


  • In c. 1820 the lease of Quarry Yard, (Curel's Lower Yard), passed to John Curel. George H. Curel took over the business around 1870. He expanded the yard in 1887 leasing the yard by Strood Basin (Curel's Upper Yard).

Other families ran yards in Frindsbury, often they had other yards in Rochester.


  • William Burgess Little
  • James Little


  • Gill Family, George Gill, of Cheetham Gill and Company. Canal shipyard.

London and Rochester Barge Co

  • LRTC- Crescent Shipping- Canal Road, this yard was still operating in 2006, being used for ship repair.

List of Barges[edit]

Here are some Frindsbury-built barges grouped by their owners.From 1870 to 1990 the Register of Shipping shows just over 100 Frindsbury Built Barges.

Phoenix Portland Cement Company, Frindsbury.

  • Hawk—43 ton
  • Cerf—58 ton
  • Phoenix—51 ton

William Tingey

  • Robert Bladen—33 ton
  • Eliza—41 ton

Formby Cement Company, Whitewall Creek, Frindsbury

  • Sara—39 ton
  • Pink—43 ton
  • Queen—43 ton
  • Neptune—40 ton
  • Whitewall—37 ton
  • Vauxhall—40 ton
  • Eclipse—39 ton
  • Margaret Louise—45 ton
  • Ella Vicars—43 ton

Burham Brick, Lime and Cement Company

  • James—42 ton
  • John—40 ton
  • Ann—40 ton
  • Varnes—41 ton
  • The Gun—44 ton
  • William—41 ton

Peter Bros Ltd. Cement Works Burham

  • John—38 ton
  • William—39 ton
  • Overcomer—44 ton
  • Monkwood—46 ton
  • Ninety Nine—57 ton

Trenchmann Weekes Company Halling

  • John Tinworth—43 ton
  • William and Sarah—41 ton
  • George—45 ton
  • Ambrose—40 ton
  • Bella—35 ton
  • Edward and William—40 ton
  • Stratford—42 ton

West Kent Portland Cement Company (Margretts)

  • Stanley Margretts—44 ton
  • Cecil Margretts—46 ton
  • Harold Margretts—45 ton

Imperial Portland Cement Company

  • Gundulph—44 ton

John Blazey White, Gillingham

  • Sarah—38 ton
  • Flower of Kent—44 ton

Queenborough Cement Company

  • Trent—42 ton

Solomon Brice and Sons, Rainham and Hoo

  • Ada Mary—41 ton
  • Alumina—60 ton
  • Mosquito—40 ton
  • William Bennet—42 ton

Eastwoods (Medway brickmakers)

  • 1845 George and Eliza
  • 1852 Frederick and Mary Ann
  • 1857 Ann and Frances
  • 1862 Arthur and Eliza
  • 1872 Onward
  • 1876 Atlanta
  • 1879 Hawk
  • 1881 Banff
  • 1884 Plover
  • 1886 Snipe


  1. ^ a b c Merrily to Frendsbury-A History of the Parish of Frindsbury. Derek Barnard. Private Pub. City of Rochester Society. post 1994.
  2. ^ David Cordingly: Billy Ruffian: the Bellepheron and the Downfall of Napoleon, Bloomsbury, 2003. ISBN 0-7475-6537-6
  3. ^ A History of Strood Rural District, Brian Matthews M.A. 1971. Published Strood Rural District Council.
  4. ^ Morning Chronicle 25 October 1821
  5. ^ Morning Chronicle 21 June 1825
  6. ^ Bankruptcy Index
  7. ^ Frank Wilmot Archive

External links[edit]