Welcome to the pages about my books some published, while some are still to be published while others are ongoing project's.
LEITH-BUILT SHIPS Volume . I
They Once Were Shipbuilders
Leith-Built Ships is a testimony to the skill of the men who built the ships and to the many men and women who may have sailed or served on them. This history is brought together in vol. I of a four-volume series about the almost-forgotten part that Leith played in our great maritime heritage and is the culmination of the author’s lifetime experience of shipbuilding.
Most people may well be aware of the part played by the great shipbuilding centres in the UK’s history but many may be unaware of the part played by the shipbuilders of Leith. This port was once Scotland’s main port with many firsts to its name. Leith had begun building ships some 400 years before the great shipyards of the Clyde and these vessels reached all corners of the globe, touching many people’s lives.
Some had sad histories while others took part in some of the great conflicts of the times; many were just ordinary working vessels that carried their crew safely through long working lives.
With a pedigree of shipbuilding second to none going back over 660 years of recorded history, the ships built at Leith deserve their place in history and this book begins the story.
LEITH SHIPYARDS, 1918 to 1939
Volume II continues the history from the end of WW1 to the beginning of WW2.
This was a time when Henry Robb started out without a shipyard, and ultimately went on to own all three of the existing yards. Many fine ships were built for service world-wide along with the largest sailing ship, ever built in the British Isles. This ship was in fact built twice, having been involved in one of the greatest mysteries of the sea when she went missing with all hands the tale of the Kobenhavn remains one of the unsolved mysteries of the sea. Ships powered by steam and the introduction of the marine oil engine, pioneered by Henry Robb. All through the great depression when at least one ship was on the slipway at Leith, most other yards had closed. Many ships built in this era would go on to feature in most of the world’s fleets during the dark days of the war to arrive in 1939.
Shown on the left is the brand new cover just designed by the publishers.
LEITH-BUILT SHIPS VOL. II LEITH SHIPYARDS, 1918 to 1939 is to be published by Whittles Publishing. Due for release late 2020, or early 2021, we shall announce the publishing date soon.
THEY ONCE WERE SHIPBUILDERS
The Leith–built shipbuilding story continues in this third volume covering the time just after World War Two finished.
As the men came back from the front, the women working at the yard lost their jobs and the World looked forward.
The shipyards would certainly have full order books for the ensuing decade and beyond, Just trying to replace the huge amount of ships that had been lost during WW2.
Shipbuilding was also changing slowly at first with the advent of electric welding which eventually would change the way ships were built along with the demise of the Rivet Squad, being quickly replaced as a cost cutting exercise at first before becoming the accepted way of ship construction.
Henry Robb Shipyard would participate in the massive new shipbuilding programme with a great many vessels being ordered from 2 of the largest customers of the yard, many orders came in from the giant Ellerman Lines, while a great many more were ordered for use many miles from Leith.
The Union Steamship Company of New Zealand (USSCo)would be back to the yard to order many ships for use around the wild seas of New Zealand and beyond. The Admiralty was still a customer and a few large supply ships would be built in this time.
Volume three covers the period 1945 to 1965 (Ships No's 351 to 494) with many first hand accounts from the men who sailed or served on the ships.
(Cover shown is for illustration purposes only)
THEY ONCE WERE SHIPBUILDERS
Volume IV follows the ships built from 1965 until eventual closure of the shipyard in 1984 by a government hell-bent on destroying British Industry and breaking the powerful unions. Great ships such as the two most powerful ocean-going salvage tugs were built (the Lloydsman Ship No 509 and the SA Wolraad Woltemade Ship No 516, built by Robb Caledon); Henry Robb-built ships played their part in the Falklands war as well.
A great many working ships took their crews safely around the globe, and although tragedy befell some, most survived. We look at them all from the huge tug Lloydsman fighting in the Icelandic ‘cod wars’ with her crew using tomato sauce bottles for ammunition to HMS Herald which took part in the Falkland's war along with another 4 ships built at Leith, as a hospital ship. There were also ferries that captured the imagination of the Scottish Islanders who relied on them for transport, with one being converted to carry out much-needed rescue work in West Africa.
Robb-built ships were anything but slab-sided vessels, with most being one-off specialised ships that were complex to build, requiring much skill which the Leith shipbuilders had in abundance.
This volume concludes the series on commercial ships built at the yard and covers the period from 1965 to 1984 (Ship No's 495 to 535). Complete with many first hand accounts from the men and women who sailed or served on the ships.
For the story of the ships built during World War Two see the future book on Leith shipyards at War coming soon.
LEITH SHIPYARDS AT WAR
Henry Robb had a fine record of building ships during WW2 – these ships will feature in a further book bringing the histories of the many warships built up to date.
This book is still very much a work in progress with research and checking of records, it all takes time but with luck this book will be the go to book for information on a Leith-Built Ship during World War II.
Check back to see what progress is being made and you will also be able to catch up with my writing endevours on the Blog.
This book will be the big project of 2021
LEITH SHIPYARDS AT WAR is a work in progress, if you or someone you know has any stories or photographs to add to this book then please contact the author at
Steam Yachts Built at Leith
The series will conclude with a final book featuring all the magnificent luxury steam yachts built at Leith from 1870 to 1914. The book will also include the 4 motor yachts built after the First World War.
This book is also a work in progress and it has been a great journey up to now, I have a couple of chapters still to go, then I will be looking at the book with a view to some development editing. So with any luck this book will be ready to go early in the New Year, perhaps even before..
Keep checking back to see what progress is being made.
The cover to the left is for illustration purposes only.
STEAM YACHTS BUILT AT LEITH is a work in progress, if you or someone you know has any stories or photographs to add to this book then please contact the author at
BUSTLER CLASS RESCUE TUGS
THEY ONCE WERE SHIPBUILDERS
The Admiralty was Henry Robb shipyards largest customer, mostly due to the warship building requirements of World War II.
Aside from warships the Leith Shipyards were called upon to also build some much needed Ocean Going Rescue Tugs.
The rescue/salvage tug’s did vital work on the North Atlantic Convoy route, during the Battle of the Atlantic, from 1941 to 1944 during World War II helping stricken ships - boosting the war effort by saving hundreds of warships and their crews.
The tugs were His Majestys Rescue Tugs, HMRT Bustler, HMRT Samsonia, HMRT Growler and HMRT Hesperia all built and launched in 1941/42. The Gross registered Tonnage of Bustler, Samson, Growler and Hesperia was 1100. The remaining four rescue tugs were all built in 1944/45 and were named HMRT Mediator, HMRT Reward, HMRT Turmoil and HMRT Warden.
All but one would survive the ravages of World War Two, with the remainder going on to have many adventures on the high seas whether chartered or on service with the RFA.
This is the story of the tugs built at Leith, in recognition of the men and women who built them and to the unsung heroes who manned then in war and peacetime.
Many more projects will come to light as this website is built up. I am working on some more ideas for books along with completing the third book in my maritime adventure series of novels
This is just a great big empty space for now.....