Victoria Machinery Depot

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Victoria Machinery Depot
IndustryShipbuilding, Energy, Industry
PredecessorAlbion Iron Works, Spratt and Kriemler, Harbour Marine Company
FoundedMay 4, 1863[1][2]
FounderJoseph Spratt
DefunctMay 1994[2][3]
Key people
Johann Kriemler Co-founder
ProductsFerries, Naval vessels, Oil platforms, Boilers, Ammonia production equipment, Manhole covers,[4] Wood-burning stoves (starting in 1878)[3]

Victoria Machinery Depot Ltd. was a historic metalworks and shipyard in Victoria, Canada.


From the late 1850s, with the Fraser Canyon and Cariboo Gold Rushes, British Columbia was dependent upon Californian supplies and ships. To prevent US domination of the colony, Governor James Douglas enacted laws restricting US shipping. As a consequence, Joseph Spratt established the Albion Iron Works on May 4, 1863.[1]

Albion was an archaic name for Britain. British Columbia was known as "New Albion" for a time. The first yard occupied the south bank of Victoria's inner harbour on Bay Street, just before the Bay Street bridge at Point Ellice. The yard produced boilers, engines, and pipes for early steamers. The hulls were made of wood on slips in the yard. Later the yard turned out ships, like the sternwheeler SS Mount Royal.

Restructured operations[edit]

Albion Iron Works went through several business changes and merged with Victoria Machinery Depot (VMD), assuming the latter's name in 1888.[1] After a fire in 1908 destroyed the plant, the facility was rebuilt.[5] The yard did essential war work in both world wars.

Harold Husband purchased the company in 1947 for $185,000.[2]

A 1954 fire caused $100,000 damage to the storage shed on Dallas road.[5] Later, the yard built several BC Ferries vessels.

During 1965–1967, it constructed the oil drilling platform Sedco 135-F for exploration by Shell Canada in Hecate Strait.[2] At the time, Sedco 135-F was the largest semi-submersible platform in the world and was the first platform constructed in BC.[6] Before submersion, the CA$10 million rig rose 50 metres (160 ft) above the waterline at the VMD docks. After the 1967 launch and three years of exploration off the British Columbia coast, it was towed to oilfields in New Zealand, the North Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.[6][7] Sedco 135-F is often confused with the rig that suffered the blowout resulting in the Ixtoc I oil spill. That was the original Sedco 135, the first of the series built at Ingalls Shipbuilding in 1965.[8] Sedco 135-F was one of the last seagoing vessels built by VMD.

The company turned to pressure vessels and submarines, but the firm closed permanently in 1994, joining the business contractions of that decade.[2]

The yards were one of several contractors to the Royal Canadian Navy for ship repair and maintenance.


The first shipyard was constructed on Bay Street between Pleasant Street and Turner Street. A second yard was built near what is now Ogden Point Terminal.[9]

Ships built[edit]

Miscellaneous vessels[edit]



Queen of Nanaimo

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Business and History – Victoria Machinery Depot Company Limited". Western Libraries. 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
  2. ^ a b c d e Obee, Dave (January 6, 2008). "Our Past: Victoria Machinery Depot showed off Island's manufacturing prowess". Victoria Times Colonist. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
  3. ^ a b Obee, Dave (January 6, 2008). "Dave Obee's Family History Page: VMD was a master shipbuilder". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2010-01-30.
  4. ^ Ringuette, Janis; Ringuette, Norm. "Manhole Covers: History Beneath Our Feet". Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  5. ^ a b "Daily Colonist". 4 May 1963. p. 13.
  6. ^ a b Williams, G. Darren (2001). "British Columbia's Offshore Oil & Gas" (ppt). Retrieved 2010-01-28.
  7. ^ "Oil rig was a Canadian first". Victoria Times Colonist. January 6, 2008.
  8. ^ Matter of Sedco, Inc., 543 F. Supp. 561 (S.D. Tex. 1982)
  9. ^ "Victoria Machinery Depot". Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Colton, Tim. "Victoria Machinery Depot VMD". Retrieved 2011-06-11.
  11. ^ Hammersmark, John. "Mill Bay – BC Ferries". Retrieved 2010-01-17.
  12. ^ Armstrong, Ron. "Mill Bay Ferry – The Oldest BC Route". Retrieved 2010-01-16.
  13. ^ "Vessel: Seaspan Doris". Retrieved 2010-01-29.
  14. ^ "Vessels Built by Victoria Machinery Depot Ltd".