The Doric Columns
Alexander Hall Shipyard 1790
was born in 1760 the son of a Crofter in Auchterless.
This yard was established in
1790 by Alexander Hall.
Alexander Hall & Co. were Aberdeen shipbuilders from
Another Whale-jaw Arch appears in the adjacent house plot indicating extensive local involvement with Whalers of that era.
The New Hull Shape was to influence a whole generation of fast sailing ships. The ships of this design were very fast and yielded tax advantages since the new dimensioning ruling in 1836. During many drag tests with true-to-scale models in large glass tanks the Hall Bothers perfected their new hull shape. The ships painted in the traditional "Aberdeen Green" enjoyed great popularity all over the world. During the second half of the 19th. century some of the best iron sailing ships also came from the Aberdeen shipyards.
Alexander Hall and Sons, Shipyard,
Alexander Hall & Co. Staff (photograph) 1862 Group photograph of carpenters, joiners, boat-builders, and other members of the staff. Names of the individuals are given and in the background are the Clippers "Coulnakyle" (on the left) and "Natal Star" under construction.
The enterprise of the late Mr Alexander Hall, who introduced the "Clipper" mould of vessels. Until then ships were built according to a conventional model, which would appear to have been held sacred against attempts at improvement. Bluff bows, a full stern, heavy sides, and massive rigging, were the characteristics of this ideal of the shipbuilders. With the increase of commerce, however, swift-sailing vessels came to be demanded, and the old notions gave way to the requirements of the times. It did not need a profound knowledge of natural philosophy to discover that the speed of a vessel might be increased by making her bows more acute; but though the fact could not fail to be known, it was acted upon only to a limited extent. Mr Hall, was a most energetic man, and came to have an extensive business in the construction of vessels for the Indian and other branches of foreign trade. He paid great attention to the forms of his vessels, and having come to appreciate the value of the sharp-bowed or "Clipper" model, he in the year 1839, built the Scottish Maid, a vessel of 142 tons, and in her demonstrated the advantages of sharp lines. The vessel attracted much attention, and soon afterwards the Aberdeen ship-builders became famous for their "Clippers." The shipping firms engaged in the Australian Emigration Trade got a considerable number of vessels built at that port. Mr Hall was succeeded in business by his Sons.
In Aberdeen, the shipbuilders Alexander Hall & Sons developed the "Aberdeen" Clipper Bow in the late 1830s: the first was the Scottish Maid launched in 1839.The Scottish Maid, 150 tons OM, was the first British clipper ship. The "Scottish Maid was intended for the Aberdeen to London trade, where speed was crucial to compete with steamships”. The Hall brothers tested various hulls in a water tank and found the clipper bow design most effective. The design was influenced by tonnage regulations. Tonnage measured a ship's cargo capacity and was used to calculate tax and harbour dues. The new 1836 regulations measured depth and breadth with length measured at half midship depth. The extra length above this level was tax-free and became a feature of Clippers. Scottish Maid proved swift and reliable and the design was widely copied. The earliest British clipper ships were built for trade amongst the British Isles. Then followed the vast clipper trade of tea, opium, spices and other goods from the Far East to Europe, and the ships became known as "Tea Clippers".
From the 17th century one can trace the theory of the construction of fast ships. From the middle of the 18th century water tank experiments were carried out with various models and around 1840 the brothers James and William Hall were engaged in model tests in a 3 metre long glass tank. A 3 centimetre layer of turpentine which was coloured red, was poured onto the water surface. A scale model of a boat was pulled through the water by a weighted line running over a reel. Based on the movement of the red turpentine one was able to arrive at conclusions regarding the effects of various bow and stern shapes. By the use of different models with equal transaction weight it was possible to carry out efficiency comparisons. Today's drag tests are carried out in large plants and they are fully computer aided. In the end this is merely a perfection of the test method which was used almost 300 years ago.
The schooner Scottish Maid, built by Alexander Hall & Co. in 1839, was the earliest vessel with the raked stem which became known as the 'Aberdeen Bow'. This design was soon copied by other builders. Scottish Maid was intended for the Aberdeen-London trade, where speed was crucial, in order to compete with steamships. Hall & Co. started to build the vessel along traditional lines but suggested to the owners that she should have a raked bow. American Schooners with long low hulls and raked stems were already well known for their fast sailing. Other famous clipper ships included Stornoway, built by Alexander Hall & Co., in 1850 for the tea trade and Duthie vessels such as John Duthie and Abergeldie. These sailed to Australia with emigrants and returned with wool.
In the early 1850's the British Shipowner's went to the Aberdeen Shipyards for their ships and, as a result, the yard of Alexander Hall & Sons built some of the fastest Clippers of that decade including Reindeer (1848), Stornoway (1850), Chrysolite (1851), Cairngorm (1853), Vision (1854) and Robin Hood (1856). All these ships full-rigged carrying 4 or 5 yards on each mast, deployed studding sails on each side and had the distinctive Aberdeen Clipper Bows which were less ornate than the traditional practice. The design of the Cairngorm embodied the builder's ideas of what a Clipper should be and was built without a firm order from an owner. A big risk for the shipbuilder but Alexander Hall & Sons were proved right as the Cairngorm was purchased by Jardine, Matheson & Co for the tea trade and she proved to be one of the fastest clippers during the 1850's. She cost £15,434 to build and was registered at 939 tons and was acknowledged as 'Cock of the Walk' as she made many fast passages. In 1858-9 she made her fastest homeward passage from Macau to Deal in 91 days. Inset - William Hall - Bust by Henry Bain Smith
Aberdeen Journal, December 10th 1851:
Aberdeen Journal Wednesday 22 June 1853
This ship became famous for carrying the first contingent of Welsh men, women and children to Patagonia to start a colony in the Chibut River in May 1865. She had not been designed to carry passengers, but had been converted for the purpose. The cost of fitting provisioning and chartering the ship was £2,500 and the passengers paid £12 per adult or £6 per child for the journey. Before the voyage the emigrants assembled at various points, not always their places of origin, to prepare for the journey.
The oak scantlings for the Mimosa's Hull came from the forest of Glen Tanner near Aboyne and were floated down the Dee in rafts.
‘HEATHER BELL’ Built 1855.
Wood ship of 479 Tons.
Heather Bell 1855
A description of this vessel, illustrated by diagrams, appears under
"Shipbuilding," in the "Encyclopedia Britannica." Constructed specially for the
Australian passenger trade, the Schomberg was built and fitted up with
the best materials, and when she was ready for sea was one of the finest as well
as largest vessels afloat. Her length was 262 feet; breadth, 45. feet; depth,
30 feet; and tonnage, 2600. The frames of the vessel were of British Oak,
and the planking consisted of four layers of Scotch Larch, each 2 inches
thick. The 1st 2 layers were fixed in a diagonal position, passing down 1
side of the vessel and up the other, beneath the inside keel. The 3rd layer was
put on in a perpendicular position, and also passed under the vessel; and over
this the outer layer was fixed horizontally. By arranging the planking in the
way described, great strength was obtained.
‘BLACK PRINCE’ Built 1863.
‘SOBRAON’ Built 1866.
Named after Punjab Battle
She had the usual crew accidents and the occasional death by other means but overall she was a very popular ship in the passenger trade. She was retired and sold to the NSW government in 1891 and she then served as a reform school for boys for the next 20 years.
In 1911 the shipwrights who were about to break her up inspected her but she was found to be as sound as she ever was and the Federal Government bought her for use as a training ship. They renamed her ‘Tingira’ and she remained in that role until she was retired for good and broken up. She carried the bell from the old cadet training ship ‘Vernon’ as a call to assembly for the boys who were learning their trade. [Passenger Liner and Training Ship]
1927-35 lay on moorings at Berry’s Bay. 1932 viewing platform for opening of Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The John Wesley a Composite Schooner was built 1867
was named by Miss Rennie, daughter of John T Rennie of Deemount.
The Brisbane Courier, 15th May 1871: 'The English tea clipper Caliph, built by Hall of Aberdeen on the lines of the celebrated schooner Silene, arrived at New York on March 3rd, from Foochow, after the fastest passage ever made between the 2 ports. She left Foochow on December 7; passed Anjer on the 10th day out; and rounded the Cape of Good Hope of January 18th - 41 days out. Her run thence to New York occupied only 44 days - in all 85 days. The American papers state that the average run between the 2 ports is 110 days.
‘LUFRA’ Built 1870.
She was the last composite built sailing ship to be constructed by A. Hall & Sons, bearing their Yard No. 265. She was built for Anderson & Co. Banff. She began life as a full-rigged ship with a single topsail on the mizzen. She made 2 voyages to China and then 3 out to Adelaide. In 1874 she was bought by Alexander McGregor & Co., Hobart and was reduced to a barque. She was placed in the Hobart to London trade for the next 23 years and proved to be a fast vessel. Her average time on the passage to London was 89 days and for the passage to Hobart the average was 90 days. In 1876 she had a close race out to Tasmania with the "Wagoola": both vessels sailing from London, left England on the same tide - 20 July - and reached Hobart on the same tide on 25 October - 97 days out. The "Lufra" was sold to L. Castellano of Naples in 1897 for £1,250 and was renamed "LETIZIA". She was broken up in 1905".
Calypso - Iron Steamer
Yard Number: 283
There was no loss of life.
Date of Launch/Build: October 1876
In the port of Galveston in Texas one can still admire to this day the only intact sailing ship of the Hall Brothers. This is the iron bark "Elissa" with 430 BRT built in 1877. This ship was restored at a cost of $1M dollars and since 1982 has been sailing the seas in its original condition. Galveston Island, Texas, March 2, 2011 - As the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA nears the 30th anniversary of her historic restoration, 2011 will also mark another milestone for the Official Tall Ship of Texas. During a mandated United States Coast Guard dry dock inspection, various issues with the hull were identified as needing repairs. These repairs must be completed before she can be returned to sailing but will not prohibit her from operating in the water as one of Galveston's main tourist destinations and landmarks. According to the Marjorie Lyle, granddaughter of Elissa's OWNER, Henry Fowler Watt, the name was taken from the epic Roman poem The Aeneid, in which the tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage, is the unifying theme of the first four books of that tale. Dido was originally a Phoenician princess named Elissa, who fled from Tyre to Africa and founded Carthage.
When the ship was restored in the early 1980s, she was lacking a figurehead. Eli Kuslansky, a sculptor and woodcarver was hired. Two different women were used as the model. “As a tribute to the generous support of the Moody Foundation, the face of the sculpture was styled in the likeness of a young Mary Moody Northen.” The life model for the rest of the figurehead was a part-time rigger and cadet at Texas A&M Maritime Academy, Amy McAllister.
McAllister modelled not only in the studio, but on the bow of the ship as well. To ensure he got the proper angle of the figurehead to the bow,
Scottish Lassie under Clifton Suspension Bridge with Steam Tugs.
broken up, was built in 1877 by 'the noted firm of Hall of' Aberdeen, the builders of the well-known ships, Port Jackson, Torridon, Vallaroi clippers. The "lassie" was originally ship rigged, 868 tons register, and after leaving Australian waters was sold to French owners, and under her new name of "Alexandria", traded for many years barque-rigged, between Havre and the West Indies,'
There was also Ross’s ‘Scottish’ line, which should not be confused with the ‘Scottish’ line of McIIlwraith and Co.
The firm of McIlwraith MacEacharn was originally founded in London on February 1st 1875 by Andrew McIlwraith and Malcolm MacEacharn when they began business as shipping and insurance agents. A year later they entered the ranks of ship owners as the Scottish Line following an agreement with the State of Queensland for the carriage of migrants from Britain to Queensland ports north of Maryborough. Their first vessel, the Scottish Bard was completed in April 1876 and in the same year the Scottish Hero and Scottish Knight, were delivered. In 1877 the Scottish Lassie joined the fleet and during the next year the Scottish Admiral and Scottish Prince were completed. Additional to these vessels the wooden barque Sir William Wallace was acquired in 1879. These vessels were all employed carrying immigrants until 1880 when the Queensland Government arrange a contract with the British India Associated Steamers. Thereafter the sailing ships continued to trade to Australia, particularly in the carriage of wool, primary produce and passengers to Britain. They were however also to be seen in the U.S., Chile and wherever else suitable cargoes were offered.
Scottish Lassie berthed below Clifton Gorge, Bristol prior to breakup in 1925 as a former migrant ship on the Australia - New Zealand run. Captain Le Couteur commanded the Scottish Lassie 1880
Queensland to a very marked extent and helped towards the coming of the British India Service of direct steam, era via Torres Straits from London.
‘SCOTTISH PRINCE’ Built 1878.
She was lost on the Queensland coast near Southport on the now well known ‘Gold Coast’. [General Carrier]
'THE SCOTTISH PRINCE - On July 6 an iron sailing ship was launched from
the building-yard of Messrs. Alexander Hall and Co., Aberdeen, for Messrs.
Mcllwraith, McEacharn, and Co., London, for the Scottish line of packet ships
from Glasgow on October 8,1886, for Brisbane. The Queensland Marine Board found that the vessel was lost through gross carelessness and slovenly navigation. The divers discovered that the manifest, printed at the time of the sinking in 1887,showed the vessel was carrying sewing machines, whisky and galvanised iron. The team salvaged pieces of galvanised Iron as well as the whisky and that other bits of iron brought to the surface could well be sewing machine parts. wreck fits the description of the Scottish Prince. It has plainly been a sailing ship with a clipper bow. Copper tubing found is hand-made of sheet copper, scarfed and welded another factor which defines the ship and the time of its construction.
‘QUATHLAMBA’ Built 1879.
Just prior to 1880 a further vessel had been purchased the wooden barque City of Aberdeen
the last of the
was completed and named Scottish
Belfast Newsletter, 3rd November 1890:
She was a sister ship to ‘Torridon’ and the last of Nicols clipper ships. She was sold to the Italians in 1906 and she managed to survive the First World War without damage although a submarine sank her sister. ‘Yalleroi’ had her name changed to ‘Santa Caterina’ by the Italians and was still afloat in the 1920’s.[Passenger Ship]
Built for the
London - Australia trade.
‘TORRIDON’ Built 1885.
Iron ship of 1564 Tons.
Length; 246 ft.
Breadth; 38 ft.
Depth; 22 ft.
Built by Hall of Aberdeen for A Nicol and Co.
Master; Captain Shepherd. She was sold to the Italians in 1906 and was sunk by a German submarine in 1916.[General Carrier]
Jho Sho Maru
Alexander Hall and Co. Ltd. was established in Aberdeen in 1790 in succession to the partnership of Cochar & Gibbon and was incorporated as a limited liability company in 1904. In 1942 it was taken over by the Burntisland Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. and later integrated with another Burntisland subsidiary, Hall Russell & Co. Ltd.
This aerial picture shows the Alexander Hall Yard Patent Slipways South of Hall Russells, adjacent to then present Pontoon Dock No.2. The Pocra Jetty is underemployed and at the top is the old Circular Pocra Pier construction with a Timber Jetty built on to it. Point Law just appears top left
For large ships, slipways are only used in construction of the vessel. Normally they are arranged at right-angles to the shore line (or as nearly so as the water and maximum length of vessel allows) and the ship is built with its Stern facing the water. Modern slipways take the form of a reinforced concrete mat of sufficient strength to support the vessel, with two "barricades" that extend to well below the water level taking into account Tidal variations. The barricades support the two launch ways. The vessel is built upon temporary cribbing that is arranged to give access to the hull's outer bottom, and to allow the launch-ways to be erected under the complete hull. When it is time to prepare for launching a pair of standing ways are erected under the hull and out onto the barricades. The surface of these ways are greased. (Tallow and Whale Oil were used as grease in sailing ship days.) A pair of sliding ways is placed on top, under the hull, and a launch cradle with Fore and stern poppets are erected on these sliding ways. The weight of the hull is then transferred from the build cribbing onto the launch cradle. Provision is made to hold the vessel in place and then release it at the appropriate moment in the launching ceremony, these are either a weak link designed to be cut at a signal or a mechanical trigger to a ram controlled by a switch from the ceremonial platform.
The process of transferring the vessel to the water is known as launching and is normally a ceremonial and celebratory occasion. It is the point where the vessel is formally named. At this point the hull is complete and the any propellors and associated shafting are in place, but dependent on the depth of water, stability and weight the engines might have not been fitted or the superstructure may not be completed. On launching, the vessel slides backwards down the slipway on the ways until it increases self buoyancy and floats by itself. These are subject to detailed displacement calculations and available tide levels. Any delay could result in loss of available draught from a receding tide and therefore loss of the bouyancy anticipated causing tense moments unbeknown to the guests at the launch.
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