Appledore Shipbuilders
(H&W Appledore)
TypePrivate limited company
Appledore, Devon, England

Appledore Shipbuilders is a shipbuilder in Appledore, North Devon.


Appledore shipyard
Appledore shipyard
The shipyard's cranes
The shipyard's cranes
Bow section of HMS Queen Elizabeth at Appledore in March 2010
Bow section of HMS Queen Elizabeth at Appledore in March 2010

The Appledore Yard was founded in 1855 on the estuary of the River Torridge.[1] The Richmond Dry Dock was built in 1856 by William Yeo and named after Richmond Bay on the coast of Prince Edward Island in Canada, where the Yeo family's shipping fleet was based.[2]

The business was led by Philip Kelly Harris[3] during the early part of the 20th century and known as P.K. Harris & Sons until 1963, when it became Appledore Shipbuilders.[4]

In 1964 the company was acquired by Court Line, a shipping and airline business.[5] A new shipyard was built on a greenfield site in Appledore at a cost of about £4m, opening for business in 1970.[5] Court Line collapsed in 1974 and Appledore Shipbuilders was nationalised, subsequently being subsumed into British Shipbuilders. By the late 1980s the only yards still held in state ownership were the smaller Appledore and Ferguson yards.[6] In 1989, Appledore Shipbuilders was sold to Langham Industries.[7]

In the late 1990s the two square-rigged sail training ships of the Tall Ships Youth Trust, the Prince William and the Stavros S Niarchos, were completed at Appledore, by performing substantial modifications to two bare hulls begun in Germany.[8]

Appledore built two Róisín-class patrol boats for the Irish Naval Service: LÉ Róisín was completed in 1999 and LÉ Niamh in 2001. In 2010, Ireland ordered a further two, 90-metre (295 ft 3 in), 23-knot (43 km/h; 26 mph) offshore patrol vessels from Babcock with an option for a third, to be built at Appledore. The first Samuel Beckett-class offshore patrol vessels was commissioned in May 2014. In June 2014, the Irish government took up the option for the third ship to be built at Appledore (delivered in 2016) and ordered a fourth in 2016 (delivered in 2018).[9]

In October 2003, the Appledore shipyard went into receivership,[10] and in early 2004 was acquired by DML, the operators of Devonport dockyard.[11] The company was reconstituted as Appledore Shipbuilders (2004) Limited and was run by the DML subsidiary DML Appledore. During this period the yard's main activity was the installation of machinery packages and other systems for luxury yachts for Devonport Yachts Ltd.[12]

In June 2007, Babcock International Group acquired DML, including its operations at the Appledore Shipyard, renaming them Babcock Marine Appledore. A Royal Navy contract secured 300 jobs in Appledore until 2015.[13] The Appledore yard constructed elements of the two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers. Bow sections for HMS Queen Elizabeth were completed in April 2010 and were barged to Rosyth Dockyard for integration with other modules.[14] The yard then built flight deck sponsons and centre blocks for Queen Elizabeth.[15] From 2012, Appledore built similar sections for Queen Elizabeth's sister ship HMS Prince of Wales.[15]

Babcock announced in November 2018 that it had no future for the shipyard, which closed on 15 March 2019. The last vessel to be built at the yard was the LÉ George Bernard Shaw, an Irish Naval Service vessel.[16][17][18]

In August 2020, InfraStrata (owners of Belfast shipyard Harland and Wolff) bought the dormant shipyard for £7 million.[19] The deal will see the shipyard renamed H&W Appledore.[20]

Ships built at Appledore

The company built more than 350 vessels, including small and medium-sized military craft, bulk carriers, LPG carriers, superyachts, ferries, and oil-industry support vessels. Specific ships include:

Survey vessels
Tall ships
Aircraft carriers
Patrol vessels
Research ships
Commercial vessels
  • Manchester Vigour, a container ship
  • Manchester Zeal, a container ship
  • Seamark, a pilot cutter for Swansea Bay
  • Wimpey Seadog, supply vessel
  • Craigdarragh, a tug boat
  • Alphagas, an LPG carrier
  • Betagas, an LPG carrier
  • Deltagas, an LPG carrier
  • Arklow Bridge, a bulk carrier
  • Britannia Beaver[28]
  • Star Hercules[29]
  • Toisa Coral, an offshore supply vessel
  • Toisa Crest, an offshore supply vessel
  • Toisa Conqueror, an offshore supply vessel
  • City of Chichester[30]
  • City of Cardiff
  • City of Westminster
  • City of London[31]
  • Cherry Sand[32]
  • Arco Avon
  • Arco Arun
  • Arco Axe
  • Arco Adur


  1. ^ "Receivers to take over yard". BBC News. 29 September 2003.
  2. ^ "The story of the Dry Dock". Celebrating Appledore's Shipping Heritage. Archived from the original on 8 September 2008. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
  3. ^ Appledore Parish Church Register of Marriages
  4. ^ Tribute to British Shipbuilding and Repair Industries 1914–18, Part 2 of 3
  5. ^ a b James Venus: Obituary The Independent, 2 September 1992
  6. ^ Britain misses the boat after years in the doldrums The Independent, 4 September 1994
  7. ^ "Specialisation is the Key". The Motor Ship. Mercatormedia. 1 October 1998. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  8. ^ Otmar Schäuffelen (2005). Chapman Great Sailing Ships of the World. Hearst Books. p. 159. ISBN 1588163849.
  9. ^ "Government to purchase third new Naval Service ship". Irish Times. 9 June 2014.
  10. ^ "Appledore in receivership", Jane's Navy International, 15 October 2003
  11. ^ "Appledore Shipyard is saved". The BBC. 13 February 2004. Archived from the original on 22 May 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
  12. ^ "Yachts". Babcock Marine. Archived from the original on 31 July 2008. Retrieved 28 February 2010.
  13. ^ "Shipyard celebrates fishery vessels order". This Is North Devon. 29 July 2010. Archived from the original on 9 August 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  14. ^ "Aircraft carrier bow sections leave Appledore Shipyard". This Is North Devon. 1 April 2010. Archived from the original on 4 September 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  15. ^ a b "Shipyard completes key stage in aircraft carrier project". This Is North Devon. 11 February 2010. Archived from the original on 17 February 2010. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  16. ^ Jolly, Jasper (1 November 2018). "Babcock International to close historic Appledore shipyard". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  17. ^ Gussin, Tony (15 March 2019). "'Heart-breaking' farewell as Appledore Shipyard closes for the final time". North Devon Gazette. Barnstaple, Devon. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  18. ^ North Devon Shipbuilding Ends Ships Monthly July 2019 page 8
  19. ^ "Appledore Shipyard to reopen after £7m InfraStrata deal". BBC News. 25 August 2020.
  20. ^ Jehan Ashmore (25 August 2020). "Historic UK Shipyard Appledore Acquired by Owners of Harland & Wolff". Afloat.
  21. ^ "HMS Echo website". The Royal Navy. Archived from the original on 9 June 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
  22. ^ "Motor Yacht Sarafsa by Devonport". Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  23. ^ "Superyacht Vava II". Acronautic Yacht Crew. Retrieved 7 May 2012.
  24. ^ "Coruisk (III)". Ships of Calmac. Archived from the original on 2 October 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
  25. ^ Enthusiasts, Irish Ferries. "Shannon Ferries: Irish Ferries Enthusiasts". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  26. ^ "About Us: Shannon Ferries". Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  27. ^ Gallacher, Neil (28 April 2014). "Devon-built Samuel Beckett ship handed to Irish Naval Service". BBC News.
  28. ^ "Britannia Beaver". Archived from the original on 28 August 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
  29. ^ "The Evolution of Cable & Wireless". FTL Design. Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
  30. ^ "Pembroke Dock Visits (Port of Pembroke)". Pembroke Dock Community Web Project. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
  31. ^
  32. ^ "Cherry Sand". Associated British Ports. Retrieved 27 April 2013.