John Duffus & Co., Shipyard
to family history, John Duffus (1780 - 1855), Shipbuilder & Mechanical
Engineer. The Duffus Shipyard was officially known as John Duffus & Company.
In addition to shipbuilding, Duffus manufactured engines for steam vessels; and,
trading as the Aberdeen and London Steam Navigation Company, had his own ships
plying their trade between Aberdeen and London. Inter alia the "Royal Tar"
(the nickname of King William IV) was built by John Duffus, Aberdeen in
John Duffus, Ironfounder, all Aberdeen, trading as John Duffus & Co.,
Manufacturers of Anchors & Chain Cables in Aberdeen.
Queen of Scotland
2 decks, 3 masts, schooner rigged, standing bowsprit, square stern, carvel
built, quarter galleries, a woman figurehead.
Rigging: wood steamer; sheathed in felt and copper in
Tonnage: 390 tons using old measurements and 435 tons using new
Propulsion: steam engine producing 150 horsepower
Aberdeen Journal, 18th April 1827:
'On Thursday last we had the gratification of being present at the launch of the
1st steam vessel which has been built at this port. If we may judge by the
admiration which this magnificent ship had excited, among naval and scientific
persons, as well as those acquainted with steam navigation, we may safely
pronounce her the finest of her class not only for a frame of timber which
cannot be surpassed, but which has been put together in a manner that would do
credit to any King's Dockyards. Her length is that of a 36-gun frigate,
she has a spar deck and poop, with 2 splendid cabins, separate from the
sleeping compartments, which are ranged along the side of the ship, and all
entering from the main deck. These berths have removing stanchions, which, if
necessary would enable her to carry 15 guns on a side. She will be propelled by
2 engines of 75 horse-power each, and is calculated to carry, beside her
machinery, fuel etc, 300 tons. Not withstanding the unfavourable state of the
weather from the incessant rain, a vast concourse of spectators had assembled at
an early hour, and seemed delighted with the beautiful airs played by the
Band of the Aberdeen Militia. At a quarter past one o'clock, the Queen of
Scotland majestically glided into her future element, amidst the cheers of
the multitude, the band playing "God Save the King". This superb vessel has
been built by Messrs J. Duffus & Co and her engines constructed at their
extensive establishment here; and if the Queen of Scotland is to
be considered a fair specimen of their work, it will bear a comparison with that
of any of her class in the kingdom. The launch was conducted by Mr Ronald,
the master builder, in a style which did him much credit; and we were
much pleased to observe the accommodation afforded by the proprietors of the
neighbouring dock-yards, whose servants appeared to vie with each other in
rendering every assistance in their power on this novel occasion. We sincerely
wish Messrs Duffus & Co every success in the prosecution of this now most
important branch of nautical science.'
Advertised maiden voyage: Aberdeen 22nd August 1827 to London and
returning to Aberdeen 5th September. Carrying goods and passengers. Managed by
John Lumsden & Co of Castle Street Aberdeen and John Duffus &
Co. Footdee. Master advertised as Alex. Lovie, RN, commander. However, due
to technical difficulties, her Maiden voyage was postponed until December
1827. Left Aberdeen afternoon of Saturday 22nd December arrived London
Tuesday, 25th December 1827.
Paul Jones – Wooden Steam Tug 1827
Described in Press & Journal by John Duthie 10/01/1981 as having 'one high, slim
funnel and two paddle boxes'. 40 horse power engines.
Used for pulling sailing ships in and out of the
harbour and occasionally for rescue operation.
1 deck, 1 mast, not rigged, no bowsprit, round stern, carvel built, propelled by
Wooden Schooner 1828
1 deck, 2 masts, schooner
rigged, standing bowsprit, square stern, carvel built, no galleries or
Glasgow Herald, 31st May 1844:
Shipwreck - schooner RED ROVER, of Aberdeen, drove ashore 17 May at
Scrabster. Men, immediately took to the boat. One of coastguard men,
David Horne, gallantly sprung into the breakers and caught hold of the boat
until men landed. That morning while getting under way the block of the main
sheet struck Captain on head and laid him insensible - now recovering. Vessel
was bound for Africa for cargo of guano and had 2 years' provisions aboard
(safely landed on fall on tide). [Larn, Shipwreck Index of British Isles
confirms RED ROVER wrecked Scrabster Sands, Thurso, Scotland, 17 May
Duke of Wellington 1829
Wooden Paddle Steamer
built and managed by
John Duffus & Co.
Duchess of Gordon 1830 Smack
Construction: Wood, Part Iron Built, 1 Deck, 1 Mast, Running Bowsprit, Square
Sterned, Carvel Built, no Galleries. Fiddle Figurehead added in April 1832.
Steam Paddle Schooner named after King William IV, who served in Royal Navy
built by John Duffus & Co
The ROYAL TAR was a 308 ton burthen ship, built by John Duffus,
Aberdeen in 1832. Her details were - length 50.29m (165ft) x beam 8.43m
(27.7ft) x depth 1.98m (6.5ft), 1 funnel, 2 masts (rigged for sail), clipper
stem, side paddle propulsion and wooden hulled. She had a speed of 8 knots.
After being chartered to Spain, she was transferred to P&O ownership
in 1840 Ship No.1 and continued on the Southampton - Peninsular - Gibraltar run.
In 1847 she was sold to the Portuguese government and was used as a
Ravenswood 1933 Schooner
Description: 1 deck, 2 masts, schooner rigged, standing bowsprit, carvel built,
square stern, mock galleries, billet figurehead
Marrappa Wooden Steamer 1834
1 deck, 2 masts, propelled by steam and schooner rigger, standing bowsprit,
square stern, billet figurehead.
North Star Wooden Paddle Steamer 1837
Completed April 1837 by John Duffus & Co. for their own account.
Registered 29 April 1837. Owned by John Lumsden,
George Elsmie and William Reid, merchants, trading as North of Scotland Steam
In 1846 Shipbuilder Duffus merged with Blaikie Brothers
John Duffus also cast Bells for churches
CASTLEHILL BRIDGE - In early times the hollow
between the Castle Hill and the
Heading Hill was but slight, and no bridge was necessary
to connect the 2 hills. By lowering the south end
of Park Street/Lane, the depth of the gap between the hills was
increased, and in
the lane was widened and improved
and a bridge was thrown over it connecting the 2
Hills. From the bridge stone stairs at both ends lead down
to the street below, which is now called Commerce Street
but formerly Park Lane and also Justice Street. The latter name was
historically the more appropriate because the bridge is probably
on or near the spot where the Justiciar of the north
held his courts. They were usually held
in the open air near a small hill or artificial hillock. A
court was held near the Castle in
(" Book of Bon-accord,"
p. 375). It is from being near the site where the
were held that the later
name. The bridge rested upon
4 cast-iron ribs, segments of a circle,
from which slender stanchion bars rose vertically, supporting a horizontal
roadway. The ribs rested upon cornices in the stone
piers at the ends. On both sides is the following inscription
JOHN DUFFUS AND CO., FOUNDERS, ABERDEEN, 1839. Alas
- Knocket Doon
BISHOPMILL BRIDGE ELGIN
- "The Lossie is here spanned by a handsome iron bridge, erected in
in place of a stone one which was swept away by the great spate of
When this bridge was built, the contract for the iron work was accepted by
John Duffus & Co.,
Iron–founders in Aberdeen, who
erected the bridge in their own yard
– the specifications bearing that it was to be set
not specifying where, so
had to pay them to
take it to pieces,
carry it to
and put it up in its
There was an Aberdeen Advocate in the family.
A handsome iron bridge occupies the site of a stone bridge which was swept away
by the great flood or Muckle Spate of
The bridge at Elgin, over the Lossie, of 80 feet span, is partly of cast
metal and partly of timber. A representation of a Litho executed at Elgin shows
the Gas Works adjacent and an ornate over arch sided Bridge with cast
balustrades supported on Stone Buttresses. Cows and Fisherman add to the
semi rural scene of the Riverside dated 1833.
Willet, CE 1873?. Iron girder bridge supported by centre
pair round cast-iron pillars and rusticated ashlar
terminal piers. Approach ramps with low wall, cope and pyramidal
coped end buttresses. Cast-iron parapet. Relegated to pedestrian
Replaced bridge of 1880
(William Robertson, Elgin) which in turn
replaced that of 1814, destroyed during Great Spate
St Nicholas Churchyard Gravestone Inscription - Aberdeen
In Memory of John Duffus
Iron Founder, Footdee Iron Works, Aberdeen.
Died 25th Dec. 1855. Aged 75
Ann Fraser, his spouse
Died 26th April 1831 Aged 53
William Duffus, Engineer
Died 15th March 1838 Aged 25
John Duffus, Advocate, Aberdeen
Died 24th Sept. 1840 Aged 32
Their children Helen, Alexander & George
died in childhood.
Also James Duffus, Civil Engineer
Their last surviving son
John Duffus, Advocate.
Son of John Duffus, engineer and iron founder, Aberdeen, and Ann
Fraser, his wife. Alumnus, Marischal College, 1821-24. Apprenticed to William
Died, unmarried, at Aberdeen, 24th September,
Old John had buried his wife all but his namesake son in this
grave before his own demise in 1885.
John Duffus & Co., Manufacturers of steam engines, chain cables, anchors,
locks, hinges; millwrights, machinists, and shipbuilders, works
entrance off St. Clement Street to the left of the Graveyard.
There was a large Iron Works behind the St Clements Church
bordering the Links and Garvocks Wynd. The nigh square Iron
Works site housed a Crane, Pattern Shop, Boiler Shop, Chain Shop, Turning Shop,
Fitting Shop and Store. Castle Hill Bridge and Elgin's Bishopsmill Bridge
structural elements were cast here.