Henry Robb’s Shipyard

This is just the start of a blog about the shipyard set up by my great grandfather, Henry Robb in Leith on 1st April 1918.
I never knew him, but am researching the history of the yard in tandem with my family history and have come to recognise him as an amazing man who must have had great charisma and determination.

Who else would start a shipyard without access to water and gradually work his way to taking over his old employers and a variety of other yards until his company was the biggest shipbuilder in the area?
I would be delighted to hear from anyone who is a former employee or knew someone who worked at the yard.

Summer 2009 when i met up with John and Frank who worked at the yaird.

I already have a number of leads to follow up when I have some time – as my current work is in Norfolk so I am only able to be back home in school holidays, but hopefully that will change soon!

A selection of other sites with relevant information appears below on the blogroll.

Copyright: Ruth Patterson 2010

About Ruth Macadam

Great Granddaughter of Henry Robb. School teacher.
This entry was posted in Henry Robb, Leith Shipbuilding, Shipbuilding, Shipyards and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Henry Robb’s Shipyard

  1. Captain W. L. Hume,M.I.N., Retd; says:

    Enjoyed reading Robb site, have passed same on to a sister in Niagara Falls, who used to be Secretary to Sandy Duncan – Managing Director – other family connections will be noted later.

    • Thank you for your kind comment. My details about the Aaro launch are slightly wrong but will lead to another post and of course i will amend the original one. I look forward to hearing further from you and others!

  2. Terry McGuire says:

    Regarding the plater’s models, the man who made them was Johnny Wallace, a joiner on the top floor of the Joiner’s shop. Johnny was the oldest employee when I was an apprentice there. He made all the models from Yellow Pine. He also made all his specialised hand tools to shape the models. Small Boxwood hand planes with curved soles, about 2 inches long. When he finished shaping the models he applied 13 coats of spirit paint to them, rubbing down 12 of them. Then they went to the drawing office to have the plates drawn on them. He was famous for the accuracy of the models, it was said that they could cut the plates from them and they were always accurate. It was also bandied about, that Johnny received a “Backhander,” in a plain envelope for his work, and it was reputed to be £ 25 ! A fortune in those days, (1949/50)

  3. Thank you, Terry, for the extra information. Several people have mentioned Johnny Wallace’s work. I remember you telling me the models were yellow pine, and will include details such as that when I get to writing the book as I will be referring to the recordings of all the gems that people have shared with me.

    I’ve still not managed to track down where any of the models of the full ships, which were in the board room, went to. Rumour had it that they were being put in a stock-room somewhere for a museum, but they seem to have mysteriously slipped into some dark hole somewhere when the yard was taken over.

    Maybe someone else knows better and can put me on the right track???

    • Lawrence Dinse says:

      I was the last apprentice to work in the yard, I was kept on with five other men to help strip the yard of machinery right up until Multiflex took over the yard. I can remember a large van coming down and the model ships going into it. I was told it was a museum but not really sure. Its a pity if they have been seconded into private hands.

      • Ruth Macadam says:

        Hi Lawrence

        Funnily enough my Mum asked the same question you did, whether they were really planning to take the models to the museum. Some did make it:

        The models of the Bustler and Cubahama are on display in the very top of Chambers Street and the Aaro and Bhavsinhji are in storage down at Granton, I am going to request to see them one time when my Mum (who was drafted in to press the launch button for the Aaro as the conditions were unsuitable for the planned launch the day before) is in Edinburgh so I can take pictures of them for my book.

        I know of the existence of no other full ship models, but others may know more and I would be delighted to know if there are more still around.

        Thank you so much for getting in touch, your memories would be really helpful for my research, perhaps we could meet up some time?

        Kind regards


  4. Pingback: Bruce Partington’s memories of Robb’s 1962-72 | Henry Robb's Shipyard

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