Bristols’s Albion dry dock re-opens

The Abels yard closed when David Abels retired two years ago The Abels yard closed when David Abels retired two years ago

Ship repair and shipbuilding is to restart in the Bristol, UK Albion Dry Dock previously occupied by Abels Shipbuilding, Dag Pike reports

The Abels yard closed when David Abels retired two years ago. This historic dry dock is the largest in Bristol and is owned by Bristol City Council.

The 540ft-long Grade II listed Albion Dry Dock was originally constructed in 1820. It was created by Charles Hill and James Hilhouse which became the Charles Hill Shipyard which built many ships on the site until it closed down in 1977. Abels Shipbuilders continued to build small ships and workboats in the shipyard from 1980 onwards, while the Bristol Marina was created across the rest of the Charles Hill yard. Now the SS Great Britain Trust is working in association with the Albion Dock Company to provide repair, maintenance and shipbuilding services for larger vessels from within Bristol Harbour and beyond.

The Albion Dock Company has been established by experienced maritime manufacturer Martin Childs along with Paul and Steve Beacham who run the Sharpness Shipyard and Dry Dock at the head of the Bristol Channel. As the city’s biggest dry dock, large Bristol-based ships are likely to have priority for repair and maintenance. Ships from outside Bristol are also expected to use Albion services, further boosting the harbour economy and supporting jobs for skilled maritime craftspeople.

The Albion Dry Dock fills from the Floating Harbour and drains into the adjacent river thus obviating the need for pumps to help empty and fill the dry dock. There is a large moveable cover to part of the dry dock.

Matthew Tanner, Chief Executive of the SS Great Britain Trust, says: “This is an important first step in re-establishing the Albion Dry Dock as a vibrant and economically active part of the harbour next to the SS Great Britain. The dry dock itself has a rich industrial history having been home to the UK’s oldest shipbuilders, Charles Hill & Sons, for over a century.”

Martin Childs, Director at the Albion Dock Company, says: “Together with the services already offered by the Underfall Yard and the Bristol Marina, a functioning Albion Dry Dock will mean that Bristol can support an even broader range of high-quality maritime services. We are looking forward to welcoming our first customers."

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