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)

Shipbuilder: Thomas & William Toward, Newcastle (1850 - 1883)

The Toward shipbuilding companies:

Thomas Toward was born in 1821 and died in 1855. He married Elizabeth Jackson Toward and they had two sons, Thomas (Jnr) in 1849 and William in 1851. Thomas Toward was described in a directory for 1847 as a "Boiler & Iron Shipbuilder of St Peter's and Middle Landing South Shields. See also shipbuilder JT Eltringham for a description of a relationship between the Toward and Eltringham companies.

Edward Harland (later Sir Edward) of Belfast shipbuilding fame worked as a manager in the Toward yard. He is mantioned in the book 'Men of Invention and Industry' by Samuel Smiles, as becoming manager of Thomas Toward's shipyard at St Peter's on the Tyne in 1853, "as the owner was in ill health". However Edward didn't stay there very long because he moved to Belfast in 1854.

Thomas Toward died in 1855 and the official builder of the tug UNITED STATES in that year was recorded as E Jackson Toward, presumably Thomas' widow Elizabeth. The two sons, Thomas & William were only 6 and 4 at this time and the St Peter's yard seems to have closed after this contract was completed.

Thomas and William followed in their father's footsteps and eventually set up in business as marine engineers and shipbuilders in the name of T & W Toward & Co. They operated first at St Lawrence then they opened a yard at Low Benwell in Newcastle which is on the west side of the Newcastle centre. The company patented the "Emphresis" forced combustion apparatus for burning inferior fuel in steamships. The principals in the company were Thomas Toward, William Toward and Donald McGregor. However the firm was bankrupt in 1883. See below for some press cuttings of that time.

However both sons did recover from this failure and went back into business. When Thomas Toward died in 1918 he is described as the managing director of an engineering company called T Toward & Co and he left over 20,000 in his estate, so he must have been relatively successful. William Toward lived until he was 90 and was in business as a boiler maker. In the 1901 census he describes himself as a mechanical engineer and an employer.

The following tugs were built by the Toward companies:

Year Ship Name D / H / P Builder
1850 Independence D / H T Toward, St Peter's, Newcastle
1851 Friend to All Nations D / H T Toward, St Peter's, Newcastle
1853 Constitution D / H T Toward, St Peter's, Newcastle
1855 Enterprise D / H T Toward, St Peter's, Newcastle
1855 Great Conquest D / H T Toward, St Peter's, Newcastle
1855 Perseverance D / H T Toward, St Peter's, Newcastle
1855 Universe D / H T Toward, St Peter's, Newcastle
1855 United States D / H / P EJ Toward, St Peter's, Newcastle
1882 Kitty D / H T & W Toward, St Lawrence
1883 Clyde D / H T & W Toward, St Lawrence
1883 Privateer D / H / P T & W Toward, Low Benwell, Newcastle
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My thanks to Gillian Milne for taking the time to get in touch and for providing much of the background information on the Toward family, used above. Gillian is William Toward's great-great granddaughter.

The following press cuttings relate to the difficult times for the T & W Toward company in 1883.

The Newcastle Courant, Friday, 19/01/1883

The London Gazette, 27/01/1885