On the Waterfront: ‘Retribution soon followed’

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This week, we complete the story of D Baxter and Co’s Sand Point shipyard, following on from our last “On the Waterfront” (Echo, April 25).

1883 saw the launch of six ships, first being the 300-ton Staithes on January 10. Constructed for Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Co Ltd, which also supplied her engines, she was built to carry iron ore from Palmers’ North Yorkshire mines to the Tyne via the company’s Port Mulgrave harbour.

She met her end on September 21, 1918, being torpedoed south-east of Sunderland by German submarine UB-115, with loss of four lives.

Retribution soon followed, with destroyers HMS Star and Ouse depth charging the U-boat off Newton-by-the-Sea, Northumberland, eight days later. All 39 German crewmen died.

On February 2, Baxter and Co launched its second vessel for Charlton, McAllum and Co of Newcastle in difficult weather conditions. She was named Hartside, with engines by R and W Hawthorn of Newcastle.

Later sailing as Glen Tilt, Rocco and Quadrifoglio, she sank off Croatia in 1944 after a boiler explosion.

Woodlands, the yard’s largest vessel at 1,094 gross tons, was launched on April 18. Also engined by R and W Hawthorn, she was built for Groves, Fenwick and Co of Swansea. Later operated by other Swansea owners, she was sold to Norwegian interests in 1911 and renamed Marshlands. She sank near the Longships, Cornwall, in 1918, after being in collision with another vessel.

On June 26, Baxters launched the 955-ton Devon for Devon Steamship Co of Cardiff, (Courtis and Davies, managers), with engines by JC Stevenson and Co of Preston. Renamed Western in 1885, she was wrecked at Bilbao in 1888.

The 914-ton Ivanhoe entered the Wear on August 29. Transferred to Norwegian ownership and renamed Marna in 1897, she became a victim of the German submarine UC-44, when she was sunk in 1917, 60 miles from Kinnards Head, Aberdeenshire.

Reversal of Baxter’s fortunes followed the launch of the 1091-ton Greetlands on November 12. Originally ordered by Groves, Fenwick and Co as a sister-ship to Woodlands, she was ultimately delivered to W Tone of Leith. Later owned by several UK and Canadian owners, she was acquired by Norwegian interests in 1905 and wrecked near Trindelens lightship in 1908.

In December, 1883, proprietor David Baxter was sued by a London shipbroker for commission on the Greetlands contact. The following February, the company failed, with Baxter subsequently being declared bankrupt.

The 982-ton steamer Nordjylland, already under construction, was launched on April 8, 1884, with the yard’s assets (including the ship) being sold by auction in July. Work on the ship was completed by neighbouring JL Thompson and Sons.

She was wrecked at Halmstad, while operating in the DFDS fleet.