TYNE TUGS AND TUG BUILDERS
A history of Tyne Tugs, their builders and owners

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Above: Select the required shipyard by using the initial letter of the Surname eg: Eltringham, Hepple or Rennoldson.
KEY BELOW: D / H / P (D = basic dimensions are shown; H = a history is given; P = one or more photographs are available)

Charles William Dodgin & Co, Low Lights, North Shields

Charles William Dodgin (1839-1917), started as a boat builder working with his father, Samuel Dodgin (1804-16/11/1881), and then set up his own company, which probably just ran from 1868-76 according to the World Ship Society yard list.

In the 1871 census, Charles is at the Low Lights Tavern in North Shields, as "Boat Builder & Innkeeper"; in later censuses, he gives his profession as Marine Engineer.

Because of the difficulty of navigating ships into the mouth of the river Tyne past the dangerous Black Midden rocks, buildings were erected with permanent lights burning to be used as a guide by the mariners. The first of these was the Old High Beacon, built in 1727. In 1802 this was replaced by the still existing High and Low Lights, placed respectively at the top and bottom of the steep bank alongside the river. (ref: Wikipedia extract)

This method of providing "leading lights", where an incoming vessel had to keep the two lights in vertical alignment for a safe route into the harbour, is a common feature of harbour approaches.

Therefore Charles firm was probably located on the site of the existing North Shields fish quay.

In 1877 he was supervising the building of the steamer LORD DERBY at the yard of the Tyne Iron Shipbuilding Company at Willington Quay.

CW Dodgin & Co became bankrupt and Charles moved to South Wales, eventually to Cardiff, probably working on the Severn Tunnel. In 1891 he was the yard manager at the Sudbrook (Monmouthshire) Shipyard owned by the executors of the late TA Walker.

Personal note: He and his wife had 3 daughters and a son: the oldest daughter married Thomas George Purvis (1861-1933), a sea captain later marine artist; one of their children was Tom Purvis (1888-1959) who was a successful poster designer between the world wars (e.g. "East Coast" posters for the LNER). Their youngest daughter was a grandmother of Deborah Kerr, the actress.
My thanks to Denis Mollison for providing this information.

Yd No Year Ship Name D / H / P
1869 Nonpareil D / H
1869 Promise D / H / P
1869 Spindrift D / H
1869 Victoria D / H
1870 Jessie & Emily D / H
1870 Pactolus D / H / P
1870 Victoria D / H
1871 Alexandre D / H
1871 Victoria D / H
1872 Cabot D / H
1872 United Service D / H / P
1873 Deusto D / H
1874 Electric D / H
1875 Anglia D / H
1875 Crusader D / H
1875 Knight Templar D / H
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