London Yard

From London's Ghost Acres

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"In 1856–7 Robert Baillie and Joseph Westwood, subcontractors and managers at Ditchburn & Mare's shipyard at Orchard Place (see page 672) for nearly 18 years, set up in business as shipbuilders, boilermakers and ironworkers, in partnership with James Campbell, in a new yard at Cubitt Town. Westwood, Baillie, Campbell & Company's London Yard was a parcel of land between Manchester Road and the Thames with a river frontage of 450ft, and by the end of 1857 it was already considerably developed, with a smiths' shop, boiler shop, machine shop, iron store, engine- and boiler-houses, furnace shed, offices and a gridiron. The name London Yard derived from London Street, which originally gave access to the yard. (fn. 26) In 1859 the firm leased a smaller site adjoining to the north. (fn. 27)

Campbell retired from the business in 1861. (fn. 28) A lithograph by N. Newberry shows the arrangement and extent of the yard c1862–4 (Plate 87c). Smiths' shops and boiler shops ran west-east between Manchester Road and the river, with offices and other buildings facing the road, and stores, machine shops, and joiners' shops in the yard behind. Besides shipping, a large domed structure was under construction - probably part of a palace built by Westwood & Baillie for the Sultan of Turkey and erected at Istanbul. (fn. 29)

In common with many other local firms, Westwood, Baillie & Company had difficulty surviving the decline in Thames shipbuilding of the 1860s, and the partnership suffered a period of financial stress and reorganization. Between 1865 and 1871 production at the yard continued with Westwood and Baillie acting as managers for the London Engineering & Iron Shipbuilding Company Ltd. (fn. 30) Westwood, Baillie & Company regained nominal control of London Yard in 1872, continuing mainly with civil-engineering projects, in particular the construction of prefabricated iron and steel bridges for developing countries. (fn. 31) However, the firm was wound up in 1893 and the yard and its contents were sold at an auction at which more than 1,300 lots were offered. The extensive machinery, including a long range of ten radial drillingmachines and large hydraulic plate-beating presses, revealed the magnitude of the work once handled by the company. (fn. 32) (Westwoods continued in the engineering industry at Napier Yard, Millwall, where a branch had been established in 1889.)

In 1898 the property was taken over by the local shipbuilding firm of Yarrow & Company. (fn. 33) Yarrows had been eager to move from their small Folly Wall Yard (see below) to larger premises, negotiating unsuccessfully with the Millwall Dock Company for a new site before moving to London Yard. (fn. 34) Redevelopment took place between 1898 and 1901. Some of the existing buildings on Manchester Road were retained and extended, but most of the yard was cleared for redevelopment. (fn. 35) Dominating the new yard was a large group of four workshop units in a single building, over 200ft by 360ft, of brick and cast iron, with glazed roofs (Plate 88b). They were built by Sir William Arrol & Company, and housed the engineers', boiler makers' and shipbuilders' departments. (fn. 36)

Yarrow's did not remain long at London Yard, however. Alfred Yarrow's business had suffered badly during the engineers' strike of 1897–8, and the high rates in London, coupled with the increasing costs of materials and labour, eventually made it impossible for him to compete with the firms on Clydeside and Tyneside. Between 1906 and 1908 the Poplar yard was gradually shut down and the firm moved to new premises at Scotstoun in Glasgow, accompanied by most of its machinery and 300 of the work-force. (fn. 37)

In 1917 the freehold wharf was purchased by C. & E. Morton, of Millwall, manufacturers of soups, pickles and jams.(fn. 38) Yarrow's large warehouse unit was converted into a case-making plant, and the other buildings were used mainly for storage. (fn. 39) Mortons decided to sell the wharf in 1936, (fn. 40) and after the Second World War it was acquired by D. Badcock (Wharves) Ltd of Greenwich, which had previously occupied part of the site as a tenant of Mortons. (fn. 41) It was then known as London Wharf. By the early 1960s Badcocks had been joined by a variety of other firms, all of which made use of existing buildings. (fn. 42)

By 1972 the wharf was unoccupied, derelict and badly polluted. Despite a proposal in 1977 to transform the site into a combined water-sports centre and boat-building yard, London Yard was eventually acquired by the LDDC (see page 701). (fn. 43)"


1856 to 1972


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Located in



Ships, Bridges

Used Raw Materials

Iron, Steel


From To Owner
1856 1861 Westwood, Baillie, Campbell & Company
1861 1898 Westwood, Baillie & Company
1898 1908 Yarrow & Company
1917 1936 C. & E. Morton


From To Industry
1856 1908 Engineering Industry