A history of Tyne Tugs, their builders and owners







Robert Morrison, Ouseburn Engine Works and Tyne Engine Works

Robert Morrison established the Ouseburn Engine Works in 1853. The works carried out single castings from 45 tons downwards. Morrison invented a steam hammer which was extensively used around Europe. The works also had two steam cranes capable of lifting 50 tons each. In 1863 Morrison manufactured a monster steam hammer of 550 tons for the Russian government. His company also made marine and pumping engines. The works closed in 1866 due to the depression. Morrison and his family lived in a splendid mansion known as Shieldfield House.

After the engineering strike of 1871 for the nine hour day, a workers co-operative was established in the Ouseburn. The prime mover was Dr JH Rutherford (1826-1890), a Congressionalist Minister, radical politician and educator. His idea was to provide work for strikers by raising 100,000 to start a co-operative engineering company. Workers bought shares for 5. 150 of shares qualified you as a director. There were soon 1300 shareholders. Ouseburn Engine Works was purchased by the co-operative for 30,000 in 1872. Orders rushed in as the rest of the industry was still on strike. Rutherford had no experience of management, and under-pricing of the engines forced the works into bankruptcy in 1875.

Various co-operative societies rescued it and it continued in operation as the Tyne Engine Works Company for another six years, finaly closing in 1881.