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Walter Hood Shipyard

Walter Hood & Co. Pocra Quay and Jetty, Aberdeen - Sailing Ships
Shipbuilders; 1839 - 1881

The Walter Hood shipyard built many of Aberdeen's finest sailing ships, including the famous Clipper Thermopylae. Many of the vessels built at Hood's yard were destined for George Thompson Jr's Aberdeen White Star Line.  The Walter Hood yard, opened in 1839, was East of Halls', next to Pocra Jetty. The former shipbuilder's John Vernon came and went and Walter Hood took over their yard.  Walter Hood had trained as a shipwright and was the yard's manager and designer until his death in 1862.  Many of the sailing vessels for George Thompson's Aberdeen White Star Line were built by Hood. These vessels sailed mainly to Australia in the emigrant and wool trade. Aberdeen Line clippers built by Hood included such famous names as Neptune, Queen of Nations and the Thermopylae, Phoenician, built in 1847, was the first of the Thompson vessels with a reputation for speed.

Aberdeen Built Ships

At the time of its launch in August 1862, the wooden clipper Kosciusko was one of the largest sailing ships ever fitted out in Aberdeen.  However, Thermopylae, the great rival of Cutty Sark, was the most famous vessel constructed at the Hood YardWalter Hood died in 1862 after slipping in the dark and falling into the harbour. The guns of Torry Battery were fired in the hope that the concussion would bring the body to the surface but grappling irons were needed to recover the corpse.  The yard continued to build sailing ships such as Miltadies and Sophocles for the Aberdeen Line after Hood's accidental death. However, by the 1870s screw propulsion was becoming increasingly popular. The Hood firm never built engines and could not compete in this market.  In 1881 Walter Hood's yard was sold, as the age of sail was coming to an end.

The Kosciusko, like the Maid of Judah, was bought by Cowlislaw Bros., being broken up at Canton in 1899.



Phoenician 1847 Aberdeen, wood, 521 gross weight, barque - square rigged on 2 masts of 3.  The Phoenician, built in 1847, by Walter Hood was the 1st of the Thompson White Star Line vessels with a reputation for speed  under the command of one of the best known passage makers of the day. Captain Sproat.
Her dimensions were:-
Length of cut keel 122ft
Rake of stem 25ft
Rake of sternpost 7ft
Extreme breadth 27’5”
Depth of hold 19’-1”
Registered tonnage (old) 526 tons (new) 478 Deadweight capacity 780
Her first three voyages were considered extraordinarily good for those days -
1849-50 London to Sydney 90 days — Sydney to London 88 days.
1850-61                  96                                        103
1851-52                             90                                        83

The John Bunyan in 1850 made the run home from Shanghai in 99 days, which, even though she had a favourable monsoon, was a very fine performance.

The Maid of Judah had the honour of taking out the Royal Mint to Sydney in 1853. Her dimensions are interesting to compare with those of the Phoenician:-
Length of keel 160 feet.
Length over all 190
Beam 31
Depth of hold 19

The Maid of Judah was sold to Cowlislaw Bros., of Sydney, in 1870. In December, 1879, she left Sydney for Shanghai, coal-laden, with Captain Webb in command, and the following June was condemned and broken up at Amoy.




‘OMAR PASHA’ Built 1854.
Wood ship of 1124 Tons.
Length; 207 ft.
Breadth; 36 ft.
Depth; 22 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for the White Star line.
She was burned at sea in 1869 while bound for England from Brisbane, Queensland. [Passenger ship]

Glasgow Herald, 21st May 1869:
OMAR PASHA left Moreton Bay [Queensland] 1 February with her full complement of passengers, which with crew made 84 souls. She was laden with wool and other colonial produce and all went well until 22 April, when fire broke out in the forehold at 4.30am - so rapidly did the flames spread, owing to inflammable nature of cargo, that by 11.00am ship was burning from stem to stern and in 7 hours after she went down. Some time previously Captain, crew and passengers got into the boats and on the same day were picked up by an Italian barque bound for New York. They remained on board her until 26th when 4 vessels were fallen in with, which took them off. All crew and passengers thus saved. 53 souls including Captain Grey were landed by full rigged ship ZEALANDIA at Cork. They were almost entirely destitute of wearing apparel or money. The rapidity of the fire barely allowing them to escape with their lives. In Queenstown all necessaries were supplied to them and they left on Tuesday night for England. OMAR PASHA had no specie [gold] aboard. Spelt OMAR PACHA in 1856 Lloyd's Register of Shipping.  Burned at sea in 1869 when homeward bound from Brisbane, wool-laden, master J. McKey. 28N, 43W [Mid Atlantic East of W. Indies] 22 April 1869.

Built by Walter Hood -
Description: 2 decks and one forecastle and 1½ poop decks, ship rigged, round stern, carvel built, full length male figurehead, standing bowsprit, wood sailing vessel, registered tonnage 1068 tons
Named after the Ottoman General Omar Pasha (1806 - 1871) who defeated the Russians at Crimea and thus became a hero in Britain. Launch 17th May 1854

Aberdeen Journal, - 'Launched Saturday last...magnificent clipper ship...the "Omar Pasha" - a popular name at present...the property, chiefly of our enterprising city member Mr Thompson for possibly Australian or China trade. 'To be commanded by Capt. Thomson, formerly of the "John Bunyan". 'She is the largest vessel ever launched at Aberdeen.' 
The Omar Pasha was burnt at sea in 1869, when homeward bound from Brisbane, wool-laden.

‘STAR OF PEACE’ Built 1855. Wood ship of 1113 Tons.

Length; 215.2 ft. Breadth; 35.9 ft. Depth; 22.5 ft. Built by Hood of Aberdeen for the White Star Line.

She entered the passenger trade to Australia and was sold to T Grice of Melbourne and was owned by him in 1881.

She was again sold, this time to Burns, Philp of Australia and she was converted to a coal hulk at Thursday Island before being broken up in 1895. Master; Captain Webster. [Passenger Ship]




Sold to Brazil, renamed sailed as the IDA until 1891 when it was renamed HENRIQUITA. Condemned and broken up in March 1897.

Aberdeen Journal, 7th May 1856:
Launched from yard of Messrs Walter Hood & Co. Yesterday another of those splendid clipper ships, for which this port has become so famous. WAVE OF LIFE, Capt. Stuart (late of Wooloomalloo) has been built expressly for the Australian trade, fitted out in most superior style for passengers, combining all the recent improvements.

Sydney Empire, 15th December 1856:
One would be inclined to believe that this noble vessel, from the time which has been expended over her voyage from London to Sydney, is not entitled to the name of clipper. Sparred on principle of comparatively short masts and square yards, she has every facility with a moderate share of fair winds and fine weather, but on this her maiden voyage has had succession of reverses. In English channel in terrific squall her fore topmast, fore and main top gallant masts went by the board, which compelled Capt. Stuart to put into Plymouth - she experienced foul winds and calms nearly all the way to the line. Successive light winds and calms until she reached meridian of Cape of Good Hope on 74th day out. From there to Cape Otway she showed her capabilities, repeatedly running 10 knots an hour. Reached Sydney yesterday, having left London 16th August.


‘DAMASCUS’ Built 1857. Wood ship of 964 Tons.
Length; 194.4 ft.
Breadth; 33.6 ft.
Depth; 20.6 ft.

Built by Hood of Aberdeen. Sold to the Norwegians and renamed Magnolia’ Master; Captain Laird.

Owned by O. Svendsen of Christiania in 1881. She was stranded on September 1st 1893 at Bersimis where she became totally wrecked. [Passenger Liner]






‘MORAVIAN’ Built 1858.
Wood ship of 996 Tons. Length;199.5 ft.
Breadth; 33.5 ft.
Depth; 21 ft.
Built by Walter Hood of Aberdeen, Scotland for George Thompson. Registered; Aberdeen NLTQ. Master; Captain Hayling in 1881. She was built for the Aberdeen ‘White Star’ line and was painted Aberdeen Green with white decks and bottom. She also had a gilded streak and scroll work. She did her time in the Australian passenger trade and was sold to J E Ives of Sydney. She was converted to a Hulk and then was broken up in 1895. [Passenger liner]


‘STRATHDON’ Built 1860. Wood ship of 1011 Tons.

Length; app 215 ft.
Breadth; app 31 ft
Depth; 21 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for the White Star Line. She was sold to the French who renamed her ‘Gers’ . She was still sailing for them in 1912. [Passenger Ship]









QUEEN OF NATIONS - 878gt 1861  Aberdeen
(Made one voyage to New Zealand in  1874)

The Queen of Nations was wrecked near Woolloagong, New South Wales, on 31st May, 1881, when bound out to Sydney. All hands were saved except one.





'The ETHIOPIAN 1864 made her first voyage to Melbourne in sixty-eight days under Capt. William Edward, sailing her last voyage under the British Flag in 1886, being by that time reduced to a barque rig.
On her passage home from Sydney she had a remarkable race with the iron ship ORONTES. The 2 vessels cast off their tugs together outside Sydney Heads, proceeded to sea and next sighted each other off the Horn, afterwards being becalmed together in the Doldrums, then both spore the same ship (exchanged signals) off the Azores or Western Isles. As they reached the Channel, ORONTES came up under the counter of ETHIOPIAN, which was hove-to taking soundings in fog. Finally ETHIOPIAN made the East India Docks one tide ahead of ORONTES, thus winning the race and a considerable sum in wagers'.

'Capt. Dalrymple of the DUKE OF ABERCORN was evidently full of confidence that his ship could beat any other ship in Shanghai on the race home, and he proceeded to challenge every clipper which was going to load new teas. This sporting spirit led to a great deal of betting amongst the shipping fraternity, and finally the crews of the CUTTY SARK, DUKE OF ABERCORN, SERICA, FORWARD HO, ARGONAUT, ETHIOPIAN and the JOHN R. WORCESTER waged a month's pay, to go to the ship which made the quickest passage from Shanghai to the Channel. The race was won by the Cutty Sark'.

The ETHIOPIAN carried tea from Shanghai, leaving 1st July 1870 and arriving London 12th November under Capt. Faulkner. 134 days out.

The ETHIOPIAN had an interesting arrangement for her accommodation, which was placed in a large deckhouse extending from side to side. The rail was approximately 4ft 6ins above the deck and the sides of the house were rounded down on to the rail; just as in a poop extending right to the stern. But there was a gap between the after end of the house and taff rail in which was a low deck occupied by binnacle, wheel and wheel box. To get forward from the wheel meant going up over the house by means of the ladders provided, or else down steps through the house and out on to the main deck. This arrangement was only found in a few sailing ships in the early 1860s. Although it can be seen in some steamers.

‘NINEVEH’ Built 1864.
Iron ship of 1174 Tons.
Length; 209 ft.
Breadth; 36.5 ft.
Depth; 22.7 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for George Thompson Jr.
Master; Captain J. Ross. Registered; Aberdeen, VWLS.

She was nicknamed ‘Lucky’ because of her accident free career, she was sold to Goodlet and Smith of Sydney, NSW and was finally abandoned in the North Pacific in February 1896. [Passenger and General Carrier]

The Lucky Nineveh.- The Nineveh  built the same year as the Ethiopian, was an extremely lucky ship in her freights and passengers and made a great deal of money. Old Stephen Thompson was so pleased that he gave Captain Barnet a banquet at the Holborn Restaurant, and all through the dinner kept toasting "the lucky Nineveh,"

Harlaw - 1866

Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 25th September 1878:
Particulars from G. Thompson, Jun. and Co. re wreck of ship HARLAW near Shanghai 31st July. At 3am a pilot was taken aboard and ship got underway up the river. About breakfast time she struck heavily, with wind freshening to a gale more sail was spread, but instead of taking the ship off she listed heavily to port and the boats were ordered out.  All of the men in the dingy, which was the first to leave, were drowned except 2. Two of the men in the long boat were washed overboard, the remainder reaching House Island and being taken to Shanghai next day by a Chinese Junk. A court of enquiry has exonerated Captain and officers of all blame, but pilot has been suspended.  Names of those drowned are:- George Cowie, Steward, Aberdeen; John Doig, London; A. Dalgairn, ordinary seaman, Aberdeen; George Littlejohn, D.S., Aberdeen; Coppel and Parker, 2 seamen shipped at Sydney; apprentices Mitchell, Crombie and Black, all Aberdeen.

North China Morning Post gives this account of wreck of dingy:-

William Buyers, 2nd Officer, was ordered by Capt. Stephens to take charge of dingy.  Only he and able seaman Thomas Lawrie are saved (7 including the 3 apprentices were drowned from dingy). Buyers interviewed by our reported said "about noon we pulled towards the ship,  I swam to it and got the jib sheet and a box of Indian corn flour.  At sundown we made the lightship, but was unable to fetch her.  Between 10 and 11 o'clock at night she shipped a sea filling her to the thwarts and the boat went down.  Most of men climbed on the upturned boat and every time she rolled 1 or 2 would be missed.  I was in the water and gripped by the Steward. My trouser leg tore away and I did not see the Steward again.  I came to the surface and found the boat with only 1 man, able seaman Thomas Lawrie, still there.  About 5 in the morning Lawrie was washed off. I swam to him and with difficulty got him back to the boat, which we managed to get upright and get inside. It was very rough.  Lawrie was again washed out and again I got him back.  About an hour before sundown we attracted the attention of a junk by waving a plank from the bottom of the boat.  The junk took us aboard and fed us, we having been away from the ship with nothing to eat or drink since about 9.30 the previous morning".

‘THYATIRA’ Built 1867. Composite ship of 962 Tons. Length; 201 ft.
Breadth; 33.9 ft.
Depth; 21.7 ft. Built by Walter Hood for George Thompson’s White Star Line.
She was sold to J.W.Woodside and Co of Belfast in 1894.

In July 1896,
she was wrecked on Pontal Da Barra when bound from London to Rio.
[Passenger Ship and Tea Clipper - Inset]






Abergeldie I -
Registered 25 February 1851.
Walter Hood and Co
length 153'
breadth 26 3/12'
depth 19 3/12'
gross tonnage 600 ton. 
One and a poop deck;
Standing bowsprit;
Male figurehead (Prince Albert in Highland Dress);
Master Lewis Wilson.





‘JERUSALEM’ Built 1867. Wood ship of 901 Tons.
Length; 196.5 ft.
Breadth; 33.7 ft.
Depth; 20.7 ft. Built by Hood of Aberdeen for the White Star Line.
She was an Australian passenger ship and remained in that trade until sold to the Norwegians.
Master; Captain Mark Breach then Captain Largia.
Registered; Aberdeen HVLF. 

She left New Brunswick under the Norwegian flag on the 28th of October 1893 and was never seen again. G Thompson owned her in her Aberdeen days. [Passenger liner]


THERMOPYLAE’ Built 1868.

Composite ship of 948 Tons.
Length; 212 ft.
Breadth; 36 ft. Depth; 20.9 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for George Thompsons White Star Line.
Master; Captain Kemball.

She was the fastest of all wool clippers under this captain. She had many races but her most famous was against the ‘Cutty Sark’, which had been built to beat her.

When they eventually did come head to head, ‘Thermopylae’ beat her rival by a week in the run from China to England with tea. Even though the ‘Cutty Sark’ was damaged in the rudder area while en-route, the ‘Thermopylae’ was out sailing her.

She was sold to the Portuguese in her old age and they renamed her ‘Pedro Nunez’ she was used by them as a naval training ship until the 13th of October 1907 when they towed her to sea and used her for torpedo practice and sunk her.

They claimed that she had been given a ‘Naval’ funeral in honour of her past. [Tea Clipper]



‘PATRIARCH’ Built 1869. Iron ship of 1339 Tons. Length; 222.1 ft. Breadth; 39.4 ft. Depth; 23.6 ft. Built by Hood of Aberdeen for George Thompson and Co. Master; Captain Pile then Captain Plater then Captain Allan Breach then Captain Mark Breach. She was sold to the Norwegians in 1898 and in 1911. She went ashore at Cape Corrientes south of the River Plate, South America. [Passenger Ship]

‘AVIEMORE’ Built 1870 at Aberdeen for the White Star Line. Wood ship of 1091 Tons. Length: 214.9 ft. Breadth: 36.8 ft. Depth: 22.2 ft. Last wooden vessel owned by the White Star Line [George Thompson and Co]. She was sold to the Norwegians and turned into a floating oil refinery. Master: Captain Mark Breach then Captain T. Ayling. She was still there for the Norwegians in 1915, re-rigged as a barque. [Passenger Liner and finally General Carrier]


Launched in March 1870

Owner A Nichol

Registered at Aberdeen 31 March 1870
4 decks, 3 masts, ship rigged, Figurehead demi-female

Subsequent Names:






‘MILTIADES’ Built 1871.
Iron ship of 1671 Tons.
Length; 240.5 ft.
Breadth; 39.3 ft.
Depth; 23.3 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for George Thompson.

She was an attractive ship and was put into the passenger trade to Australia. Master; Captain Perrett until 1885, then Captain Harold Ayling. She went out of the Australian trade in 1874 and she entered the New Zealand trade. She almost ended her career after this change, for she became hung up on a reef and was lucky to be pulled off by a passing steamer. Her captain was somewhat superstitious and she was not seen near New Zealand for almost 20 years. She was sold to the Italian owners of the tea clipper, ‘Titania’ after the White Star Line decided to sell off their sailing ships. ‘Miltiades’ kept sailing up to the late 1930’s. [Passenger Liner]

Ship built by Walter Hood in 1872
Length 211.1'
Breadth 34.8'
Depth 21'
Gross tonnage: 1064 ton

 - her last passage was from the Port of Rasario in Argentina, bound toward Kristiania with a cargo of maize. Sadly, after 45 years of service COLLINGWOOD was sunk by the German submarine U-62 under command Kapitanleutnant Ernst Hashagen (24th August 1885 - 12th January 1947) on the 12th March 1917 some 100-120 miles west of the Scilly Islands; location 49.13N 09.39W. It is recorded that the officers and crew of the U-Boat were drunk with champagne and cognac sourced from the French ship, Jules Gommes which they had sunk 2 hours previously! COLLINGWOOD's crew were given 10 minutes to get clear of the ship; there were no casualties.

‘SAMUEL PLIMSOLL’ Built 1873. Iron ship of 1444 Tons.

Length; 241.3 ft. Breadth; 39 ft. Depth; 23.1 ft. Built by Hood of Aberdeen for George Thompson and Co. Master; Captain R. Boaden.

She was owned by the White Star Line and worked in the Australian passenger service for many years. In 1899, she caught fire and was scuttled. She was raised, repaired and put back to work. Shaw-Savill of Billiter Street bought her and after some work for them, she was converted to a coal hulk in Western Australia. [Passenger ship]

‘ROMANOFF’ Built 1874.
Iron ship of 1226 Tons.
Length; 222.1 ft.
Breadth; 36.3 ft.
Depth; 22.2 ft. Built by Hood for A Nicol.
Master; Captain W Shepherd.

She was a true Aberdeen clipper, painted Aberdeen green with white yards and masts. She was a colonial trader for many years and she was sold to the Norwegians in her final days and she ended her time under that flag. [Passenger ship and Wool Clipper]









SALAMIS’ Built 1875.
Iron ship of 1079 Tons.
Length; 221.6 ft.
Breadth; 36 ft.
Depth. 21.7 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for George Thompson and Co. Master; Captain Phillips Snr.  She was built on the same design as that most wonderful and fastest of clippers, ‘Thermopylae’. She was about 100 Tons heavier and 10 feet longer but she also was a very speedy ship. She was sold to the White Star Line for use in the Australian passenger trade and after very good service, was sold to the Norwegians. They converted her to a barque and they eventually wrecked her on the 20th of May 1905 on Malden Island in the South Pacific. [White Star Passenger Liner]

‘ARISTIDES’ Built 1876.
Iron ship of 1661 Tons.
Length; 260 ft.
Breadth; 39.5 FT.
Depth; 24.5 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for Geo Thompson and Co. Launched March 1876 as the flagship of the White Star Line.

Master; Captain Kemball then Captain Poppy. 

She was lost under this Captain in June 1903. [Passenger and General Carrier]






















The Smyrna was an iron hulled Clipper sailing ship built in Aberdeen by Walter Hood in 1876. She had 3 masts and 2 decks and a tonnage of 1372 gross. It measured 232ft 3in in length, 38ft 5in in breadth and 22ft 2in in depth. The vessel was launched as a wool clipper operating between Britain and Australia. Smyrna made the voyage numerous times, on one occasion in 1887 making it from Sydney to Aberdeen in 96 days. At the time of the accident the ship was owned by Geo. Thompson and Company of the Aberdeen White Star Line.  Bound for Sydney she was rammed in fog off Southampton and sank uninsured in 1888.  At approximately 10.30am, Moto's Captain Digman was at the wheel when the Symrna was spotted on the port bow. The Moto reversed engines and over the next few minutes very nearly stopped, but inevitably collided with the Smyrna, 1,305gt 1876 Aberdeen (Australian wool trade)

‘PERICLES’ Built 1877.
Iron ship of 1598 Tons.
Length; 259.6 ft.
Breadth; 39.4 ft.
Depth; 23.6 ft.
Built by Hood at Aberdeen for George Thompson and Co. Master; Captain Largie.

She was built alongside the ship ‘Brilliant’ and became a rival of that ship. She was sold to the Norwegians in 1904 after a good career in the passenger trade to Australia.

They renamed her ‘Sjurso’. She sailed under the Norwegian flag until 1923 and she went off the register in 1924. [Passenger Ship]

Aberdeen Journal, 18 July 1877:
Launched 16th July 1877 'by Miss Thompson, daughter of Mr Thompson, one of the partners of the firm for whom the ship was built. Built for Messrs. George Thompson Jnr. & Co.'s celebrated line of Australian clippers. To be commanded by Captain Largie, late of the 'Jerusalem'.

Cimba - Launched in April 1878
Figurehead a lion rampant. Livery green hull with yellow stripe and white masts.
1906: Sold to Norwegian timber trade.

1915: Wrecked off Point des Mouts, Quebec.

Parts salvaged in 1950s including mast cap, anchor chain and rigging now housed at Aberdeen Maritime Museum.

Other related objects held at Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia (see Useful Links page).

CIMBA was clipper in the Australian wool trade, and sailed between London and Sydney from Callao [Peru] to Iquiqui [Chile] of 14 days in 1905. Her first captain, J. Fimister, served until 1895, at which time Captain J. W. Holmes took over until her sale to Norwegian owners 1906: under her new owners her chief cargo was lumber and she made a fast passage of 14 days from Dublin to the St. Lawrence.

‘SOPHOCLES’ Built 1879.
Iron ship of 1138 Tons.
Length; 223.4 ft.
Breadth; 34.7 ft. Depth; 21.7 ft.

Built by Hood of Aberdeen for the White Star Line.
Master; Captain Smith.

She was sold to the Italians and was still going for them until the First World War.

Owned by Olivari of Genoa in 1912. Master; Captain G B Pontremoli. [Passenger Ship]





The yard merged with Alexander Hall & Co. in 1881. The last vessel built at Hoods was the sailing ship Orontes

‘ORONTES’ Built 1881.
Iron ship of 1383 Tons.
Length; 234.8 ft.
Breadth; 36.1 ft.
Depth; 22.5 ft.

Built by Walter Hood of Aberdeen. Owned by G.Thompson in 1900.
Master; Captain D.Bain.

Registered; Aberdeen, Scotland WJFB. [Passenger Ship]







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Last modified: 01/09/2013