Walter Hood Shipyard
Walter Hood & Co. Pocra Quay and
Aberdeen - Sailing Ships
Shipbuilders; 1839 - 1881
Walter Hood shipyard built many of Aberdeen's finest sailing ships,
including the famous Clipper Thermopylae. Many of the vessels built at
Hood's yard were destined for George Thompson Jr's Aberdeen
White Star Line.
The Walter Hood yard, opened in 1839, was East of Halls', next to
Pocra Jetty. The former shipbuilder's John Vernon came and went and
Walter Hood took over their yard. Walter Hood had trained as a shipwright and was the
yard's manager and designer until his death in 1862. Many of the sailing
vessels for George Thompson's Aberdeen White Star Line were built by
Hood. These vessels sailed mainly to Australia in the emigrant and wool trade.
Aberdeen Line clippers built by Hood included such famous names as Neptune,
Queen of Nations and the Thermopylae, Phoenician, built in 1847, was
the first of the Thompson vessels with a reputation for speed.
Aberdeen Built Ships
At the time of its launch in August 1862, the wooden clipper Kosciusko
was one of the largest sailing ships ever fitted out in Aberdeen. However,
Thermopylae, the great rival of Cutty Sark, was the most famous
vessel constructed at the Hood Yard. Walter Hood died in 1862
after slipping in the dark and falling into the harbour. The guns of Torry
Battery were fired in the hope that the concussion would bring the body to
the surface but grappling irons were needed to recover the corpse. The yard
continued to build sailing ships such as Miltadies and Sophocles
for the Aberdeen Line after Hood's accidental death. However, by the 1870s screw
propulsion was becoming increasingly popular. The Hood firm never built
engines and could not compete in this market.
In 1881 Walter Hood's yard
was sold, as the age of sail was coming to an end.
The Kosciusko, like the Maid of Judah, was bought by Cowlislaw
Bros., being broken up at Canton in 1899.
Aberdeen, wood, 521 gross weight, barque - square rigged on 2 masts of 3.
The Phoenician, built in 1847, by Walter Hood was
the 1st of the Thompson White Star Line vessels with a reputation for speed
the command of one of the best known passage makers of the day. Captain Sproat.
Her dimensions were:-
Length of cut keel 122ft
Rake of stem 25ft
Rake of sternpost 7ft
Extreme breadth 27’5”
Depth of hold 19’-1”
Registered tonnage (old) 526 tons (new) 478 Deadweight capacity 780
Her first three voyages were considered extraordinarily good for those days -
London to Sydney 90 days — Sydney to London 88 days.
The John Bunyan in 1850 made the run home from Shanghai in 99
days, which, even though she had a favourable monsoon, was a very fine
The Maid of Judah had the honour of taking out the
Royal Mint to Sydney in 1853. Her dimensions are
interesting to compare with those of the Phoenician:-
Length of keel 160 feet.
Length over all 190
Depth of hold 19
The Maid of Judah was sold to Cowlislaw Bros., of Sydney, in 1870. In
December, 1879, she left Sydney for Shanghai, coal-laden, with
Captain Webb in command, and the following June was condemned and broken up
PASHA’ Built 1854.
Wood ship of 1124 Tons.
Length; 207 ft.
Depth; 22 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for the White Star line.
burned at sea in 1869 while bound for England from Brisbane, Queensland.
Herald, 21st May 1869:
OMAR PASHA left Moreton Bay [Queensland] 1 February with her full
complement of passengers, which with crew made 84 souls. She was laden with wool
and other colonial produce and all went well until 22 April, when fire broke out
in the forehold at 4.30am - so rapidly did the flames spread, owing to
inflammable nature of cargo, that by 11.00am ship was burning from stem to stern
and in 7 hours after she went down. Some time previously Captain, crew and
passengers got into the boats and on the same day were picked up by an Italian
barque bound for New York. They remained on board her until 26th when 4 vessels
were fallen in with, which took them off. All crew and passengers thus saved. 53
souls including Captain Grey were landed by full rigged ship ZEALANDIA at Cork.
They were almost entirely destitute of wearing apparel or money. The rapidity of
the fire barely allowing them to escape with their lives. In Queenstown all
necessaries were supplied to them and they left on Tuesday night for England.
OMAR PASHA had no specie [gold] aboard. Spelt OMAR PACHA in 1856 Lloyd's
Register of Shipping.
Burned at sea in 1869 when homeward bound from Brisbane, wool-laden, master J. McKey. 28N, 43W [Mid Atlantic East of W. Indies] 22 April 1869.
Built by Walter
Description: 2 decks and one forecastle and 1½ poop decks, ship rigged, round
stern, carvel built, full length male figurehead, standing bowsprit, wood
sailing vessel, registered tonnage 1068 tons
Named after the Ottoman General Omar Pasha
(1806 - 1871) who defeated the Russians at Crimea and thus became a hero in
Britain. Launch 17th May 1854
Aberdeen Journal, - 'Launched Saturday
last...magnificent clipper ship...the "Omar Pasha" - a popular name at
present...the property, chiefly of our enterprising city member Mr Thompson
for possibly Australian or China trade. 'To be commanded by Capt. Thomson,
formerly of the "John Bunyan". 'She is the largest vessel ever launched at
Aberdeen.' The Omar
Pasha was burnt at sea in 1869, when homeward bound from Brisbane,
OF PEACE’ Built 1855.
Wood ship of 1113 Tons.
Length; 215.2 ft. Breadth; 35.9 ft. Depth; 22.5 ft. Built by Hood of
Aberdeen for the White Star Line.
She entered the passenger trade to Australia and was sold to T Grice of
Melbourne and was owned by him in 1881.
She was again sold, this time to Burns, Philp of Australia and she was
converted to a coal hulk at Thursday Island before being broken up in
1895. Master; Captain Webster. [Passenger Ship]
OF LIFE 1856
Brazil, renamed sailed as the IDA until 1891 when it was renamed HENRIQUITA.
Condemned and broken up in March 1897.
Aberdeen Journal, 7th May 1856:
Launched from yard of Messrs Walter Hood & Co. Yesterday another of those
splendid clipper ships, for which this port has become so famous. WAVE OF
LIFE, Capt. Stuart (late of Wooloomalloo) has been built expressly for the
Australian trade, fitted out in most superior style for passengers,
combining all the recent improvements.
Sydney Empire, 15th December 1856:
One would be inclined to believe that this noble vessel, from the time which
has been expended over her voyage from London to Sydney, is not entitled to
the name of clipper. Sparred on principle of comparatively short
masts and square yards, she has every facility with a moderate share of fair
winds and fine weather, but on this her maiden voyage has had succession of
reverses. In English channel in terrific squall her fore topmast, fore and
main top gallant masts went by the board, which compelled Capt. Stuart to
put into Plymouth - she experienced foul winds and calms nearly all the way
to the line. Successive light winds and calms until she reached meridian of
Cape of Good Hope on 74th day out. From there to Cape Otway she showed her
capabilities, repeatedly running 10 knots an hour. Reached Sydney yesterday,
having left London 16th August.
‘DAMASCUS’ Built 1857.
Wood ship of 964 Tons.
Length; 194.4 ft.
Breadth; 33.6 ft.
Depth; 20.6 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen. Sold to the Norwegians and renamed ‘Magnolia’
Master; Captain Laird.
Owned by O. Svendsen of Christiania in 1881. She was stranded on
September 1st 1893 at
Bersimis where she became totally wrecked. [Passenger Liner]
Wood ship of 996 Tons. Length;199.5 ft.
Breadth; 33.5 ft.
Depth; 21 ft.
Built by Walter Hood of Aberdeen, Scotland for George Thompson. Registered;
Aberdeen NLTQ. Master; Captain Hayling in 1881. She was built for the
Aberdeen ‘White Star’ line and was painted Aberdeen Green with white decks
and bottom. She also had a gilded streak and scroll work. She did her time
in the Australian passenger trade and was sold to J E Ives of Sydney. She
was converted to a Hulk and then was broken up in 1895. [Passenger
Wood ship of 1011 Tons.
Length; app 215 ft.
Breadth; app 31 ft
Depth; 21 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for the White Star Line. She was sold to the
French who renamed her ‘Gers’ . She was still sailing for them in 1912.
QUEEN OF NATIONS - 878gt 1861 Aberdeen
(Made one voyage to New Zealand in
The Queen of Nations was wrecked near Woolloagong, New South Wales, on 31st May,
1881, when bound out to Sydney. All hands were saved except one.
ETHIOPIAN 1864 made her first voyage to Melbourne in
sixty-eight days under Capt. William Edward, sailing her last voyage under
the British Flag in 1886, being by that time reduced to a barque rig.
On her passage home from Sydney she had a remarkable race with the iron
ship ORONTES. The 2 vessels cast off their tugs together outside
Sydney Heads, proceeded to sea and next sighted each other off the Horn,
afterwards being becalmed together in the Doldrums, then both spore the same
ship (exchanged signals) off the Azores or Western Isles. As they reached
the Channel, ORONTES came up under the counter of ETHIOPIAN, which was
hove-to taking soundings in fog. Finally ETHIOPIAN made the East India Docks
one tide ahead of ORONTES, thus winning the race and a considerable sum in
'Capt. Dalrymple of the DUKE OF ABERCORN was evidently full of confidence
that his ship could beat any other ship in Shanghai on the race home, and he
proceeded to challenge every clipper which was going to load new teas. This
sporting spirit led to a great deal of betting amongst the shipping
fraternity, and finally the crews of the CUTTY SARK, DUKE OF ABERCORN,
SERICA, FORWARD HO, ARGONAUT, ETHIOPIAN and the JOHN R. WORCESTER waged a
month's pay, to go to the ship which made the quickest passage from Shanghai
to the Channel. The race was won by the Cutty Sark'.
The ETHIOPIAN carried tea from Shanghai, leaving 1st July 1870 and
arriving London 12th November under Capt. Faulkner. 134 days out.
The ETHIOPIAN had an interesting arrangement for her accommodation, which
was placed in a large deckhouse extending from side to side. The rail
was approximately 4ft 6ins above the deck and the sides of the house were
rounded down on to the rail; just as in a poop extending right to the
stern. But there was a gap between the after end of the house and taff rail
in which was a low deck occupied by binnacle, wheel and wheel box. To
get forward from the wheel meant going up over the house by means of the
ladders provided, or else down steps through the house and out on to the
main deck. This arrangement was only found in a few sailing ships in the
early 1860s. Although it can be seen in some steamers.
Iron ship of 1174 Tons.
Length; 209 ft.
Breadth; 36.5 ft.
Depth; 22.7 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for George Thompson Jr.
Master; Captain J. Ross.
Registered; Aberdeen, VWLS.
She was nicknamed ‘Lucky’ because of her
accident free career, she was sold to Goodlet and Smith of Sydney, NSW and
was finally abandoned in the North Pacific in February 1896.
[Passenger and General Carrier]
Lucky Nineveh.- The Nineveh built the same year as the Ethiopian,
was an extremely lucky ship in her freights and passengers and made a great deal
of money. Old Stephen Thompson was so pleased that he gave Captain
Barnet a banquet at the Holborn Restaurant, and all through the
dinner kept toasting "the lucky Nineveh,"
Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 25th September 1878:
Particulars from G. Thompson, Jun. and Co. re wreck of ship HARLAW
near Shanghai 31st July. At 3am a pilot was taken aboard and ship got
underway up the river. About breakfast time she struck heavily, with wind
freshening to a gale more sail was spread, but instead of taking the ship
off she listed heavily to port and the boats were ordered out. All of
the men in the dingy, which was the first to leave, were drowned except 2.
Two of the men in the long boat were washed overboard, the remainder
reaching House Island and being taken to Shanghai next day by
a Chinese Junk. A court of enquiry has exonerated Captain and
officers of all blame, but pilot has been suspended. Names of those
drowned are:- George Cowie, Steward, Aberdeen; John Doig,
London; A. Dalgairn, ordinary seaman, Aberdeen; George Littlejohn,
D.S., Aberdeen; Coppel and Parker, 2 seamen shipped at Sydney;
apprentices Mitchell, Crombie and Black, all Aberdeen.
North China Morning Post gives this account of wreck of dingy:-
William Buyers, 2nd Officer, was ordered by Capt. Stephens to take
charge of dingy. Only he and able seaman Thomas Lawrie are
saved (7 including the 3 apprentices were drowned from dingy). Buyers
interviewed by our reported said "about noon we pulled towards the ship,
I swam to it and got the jib sheet and a box of Indian corn flour. At
sundown we made the lightship, but was unable to fetch her. Between 10
and 11 o'clock at night she shipped a sea filling her to the thwarts
and the boat went down. Most of men climbed on the upturned boat and
every time she rolled 1 or 2 would be missed. I was in the water and
gripped by the Steward. My trouser leg tore away and I did not see
the Steward again. I came to the surface and found the boat
with only 1 man, able seaman Thomas Lawrie, still there. About
5 in the morning Lawrie was washed off. I swam to him and with
difficulty got him back to the boat, which we managed to get upright and get
inside. It was very rough. Lawrie was again washed out and
again I got him back. About an hour before sundown we attracted the
attention of a junk by waving a plank from the bottom of the boat. The
junk took us aboard and fed us, we having been away from the ship with
nothing to eat or drink since about 9.30 the previous morning".
Composite ship of 962 Tons. Length; 201 ft.
Breadth; 33.9 ft.
ft. Built by Walter Hood for George Thompson’s White Star Line.
She was sold
to J.W.Woodside and Co of Belfast in 1894.
In July 1896,
was wrecked on Pontal Da Barra when bound from London to Rio.
Ship and Tea Clipper - Inset]
Abergeldie I -
Registered 25 February 1851.
Walter Hood and Co.
breadth 26 3/12'
depth 19 3/12'
tonnage 600 ton.
One and a poop deck;
Male figurehead (Prince Albert in
Master Lewis Wilson.
‘JERUSALEM’ Built 1867.
Wood ship of 901 Tons.
Length; 196.5 ft.
Breadth; 33.7 ft.
Depth; 20.7 ft. Built
by Hood of Aberdeen for the White Star Line.
She was an Australian passenger
ship and remained in that trade until sold to the Norwegians.
Mark Breach then Captain Largia.
Registered; Aberdeen HVLF.
She left New
Brunswick under the Norwegian flag on the 28th of
October 1893 and was never seen again. G Thompson owned her in her
Aberdeen days. [Passenger liner]
Composite ship of 948 Tons.
Length; 212 ft.
Breadth; 36 ft. Depth; 20.9 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for George Thompsons White Star Line.
Master; Captain Kemball.
She was the fastest of all wool clippers under this captain. She had many
races but her most famous was against the ‘Cutty Sark’, which had
been built to beat her.
When they eventually did come head to head, ‘Thermopylae’ beat her rival by
a week in the run from China to England with tea. Even though the ‘Cutty
Sark’ was damaged in the rudder area while en-route, the ‘Thermopylae’ was
out sailing her.
She was sold to the Portuguese in her old age and they renamed her ‘Pedro
Nunez’ she was used by them as a naval training ship until the 13th of
October 1907 when they towed her to sea and used her for torpedo
practice and sunk her.
They claimed that she had been given a ‘Naval’ funeral in honour of her
past. [Tea Clipper]
Iron ship of 1339 Tons. Length; 222.1 ft. Breadth; 39.4 ft. Depth; 23.6 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for George Thompson and Co. Master; Captain Pile
then Captain Plater then Captain Allan Breach then Captain Mark Breach. She
was sold to the Norwegians in 1898 and in 1911. She went
ashore at Cape Corrientes south of the River Plate, South America.
‘AVIEMORE’ Built 1870
at Aberdeen for the White Star Line. Wood ship of 1091 Tons. Length: 214.9 ft.
Breadth: 36.8 ft. Depth: 22.2 ft. Last wooden vessel owned by the White Star
Line [George Thompson and Co]. She was sold to the Norwegians and turned into a
floating oil refinery. Master: Captain Mark Breach then Captain T. Ayling. She
was still there for the Norwegians in 1915, re-rigged as a barque.
[Passenger Liner and finally General Carrier]
Launched in March 1870
Registered at Aberdeen 31 March 1870
4 decks, 3 masts, ship rigged, Figurehead
Iron ship of 1671 Tons.
Length; 240.5 ft.
Breadth; 39.3 ft.
Depth; 23.3 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for George Thompson.
She was an attractive ship and was put into the passenger trade to
Australia. Master; Captain Perrett until 1885, then Captain Harold
Ayling. She went out of the Australian trade in 1874 and she entered
the New Zealand trade. She almost ended her career after this change, for
she became hung up on a reef and was lucky to be pulled off by a passing
steamer. Her captain was somewhat superstitious and she was not seen near
New Zealand for almost 20 years. She was sold to the Italian owners of the
tea clipper, ‘Titania’ after the White Star Line decided to sell off
their sailing ships. ‘Miltiades’ kept sailing up to the late 1930’s.
Ship built by Walter Hood in 1872
Gross tonnage: 1064 ton
- her last passage
was from the Port of Rasario in Argentina, bound toward Kristiania
with a cargo of maize. Sadly, after 45 years of service COLLINGWOOD was sunk by
the German submarine U-62 under command Kapitanleutnant Ernst Hashagen
(24th August 1885 - 12th January 1947) on the 12th March 1917 some
100-120 miles west of the Scilly Islands; location 49.13N 09.39W. It is recorded
that the officers and crew of the U-Boat were drunk with champagne and cognac
sourced from the French ship, Jules Gommes which they had sunk 2 hours
previously! COLLINGWOOD's crew were given 10 minutes to get clear of the ship;
there were no casualties.
PLIMSOLL’ Built 1873. Iron ship of 1444 Tons.
ft. Breadth; 39 ft. Depth; 23.1 ft. Built by Hood of Aberdeen for George
Thompson and Co. Master; Captain R. Boaden.
She was owned
by the White Star Line and worked in the Australian passenger service for
many years. In 1899, she caught fire and was scuttled. She was
raised, repaired and put back to work. Shaw-Savill of Billiter Street bought
her and after some work for them, she was converted to a coal hulk in
Western Australia. [Passenger ship]
Iron ship of 1226 Tons.
Length; 222.1 ft.
Breadth; 36.3 ft.
Depth; 22.2 ft. Built by Hood for A Nicol.
Master; Captain W Shepherd.
She was a true Aberdeen clipper,
painted Aberdeen green with white yards and masts. She was a colonial trader
for many years and she was sold to the Norwegians in her final days and she
ended her time under that flag. [Passenger ship and Wool Clipper]
Iron ship of 1079 Tons.
Length; 221.6 ft.
Breadth; 36 ft.
Depth. 21.7 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for George Thompson and Co.
Master; Captain Phillips Snr. She was built on the same design as that
most wonderful and fastest of clippers, ‘Thermopylae’. She was about 100
Tons heavier and 10 feet longer but she also was a very speedy ship. She was
sold to the White Star Line for use in the Australian passenger trade and
after very good service, was sold to the Norwegians. They converted her to a
barque and they eventually wrecked her on the 20th of
May 1905 on Malden Island in the South Pacific. [White Star Passenger
‘ARISTIDES’ Built 1876.
Iron ship of 1661 Tons.
Length; 260 ft.
Breadth; 39.5 FT.
Depth; 24.5 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for Geo Thompson and Co. Launched March 1876
as the flagship of the White Star Line.
Master; Captain Kemball then Captain
She was lost under this Captain in June 1903. [Passenger and General
was an iron
hulled Clipper sailing ship built in Aberdeen by Walter Hood in 1876.
She had 3 masts and 2 decks and a tonnage of 1372 gross. It measured 232ft
3in in length, 38ft 5in in breadth and 22ft 2in in depth. The vessel was
launched as a wool clipper operating between Britain and Australia.
made the voyage
numerous times, on one occasion in 1887 making it from Sydney to Aberdeen
in 96 days. At the time of the accident the ship was owned by Geo. Thompson and
Company of the Aberdeen White Star Line. Bound for Sydney she was rammed
in fog off Southampton and sank uninsured in 1888. At approximately
10.30am, Moto's Captain Digman was at the wheel when the Symrna was
spotted on the port bow. The
reversed engines and over the next few minutes very nearly stopped,
but inevitably collided with the Smyrna, 1,305gt
1876 Aberdeen (Australian wool trade)
‘PERICLES’ Built 1877.
Iron ship of 1598 Tons.
Length; 259.6 ft.
Breadth; 39.4 ft.
Depth; 23.6 ft.
Built by Hood at Aberdeen for George Thompson and Co. Master; Captain Largie.
She was built alongside the ship ‘Brilliant’ and became a rival of
that ship. She was sold to the Norwegians in 1904 after a good career
in the passenger trade to Australia.
They renamed her ‘Sjurso’. She sailed under the Norwegian flag until 1923
and she went off the register in 1924. [Passenger Ship]
Aberdeen Journal, 18 July 1877:
Launched 16th July 1877 'by Miss Thompson, daughter of Mr Thompson,
one of the partners of the firm for whom the ship was built. Built for
Messrs. George Thompson Jnr. & Co.'s celebrated line of Australian clippers.
To be commanded by Captain Largie, late of the 'Jerusalem'.
- Launched in April 1878
Figurehead a lion rampant. Livery green hull with yellow stripe and white
1906: Sold to Norwegian timber trade.
1915: Wrecked off Point des Mouts, Quebec.
Parts salvaged in 1950s including mast cap, anchor chain and rigging
now housed at Aberdeen Maritime Museum.
Other related objects held at Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia (see
Useful Links page).
CIMBA was clipper in the Australian wool trade, and sailed between London
and Sydney from Callao [Peru] to Iquiqui [Chile] of 14 days in 1905.
Her first captain, J. Fimister, served until 1895, at which time
Captain J. W. Holmes took over until her sale to Norwegian owners 1906:
under her new owners her chief cargo was lumber and she made a fast passage
of 14 days from Dublin to the St. Lawrence.
‘SOPHOCLES’ Built 1879.
Iron ship of 1138 Tons.
Length; 223.4 ft.
Breadth; 34.7 ft. Depth; 21.7 ft.
Built by Hood of Aberdeen for the White Star Line.
Master; Captain Smith.
She was sold to the Italians and was still going for them until the First
Owned by Olivari of Genoa in 1912. Master; Captain G B Pontremoli.
The yard merged with Alexander
Hall & Co. in 1881. The last vessel built at Hoods was the sailing ship
Iron ship of 1383 Tons.
Length; 234.8 ft.
Breadth; 36.1 ft.
Depth; 22.5 ft.
Built by Walter Hood of Aberdeen. Owned by G.Thompson in
Master; Captain D.Bain.
Registered; Aberdeen, Scotland WJFB. [Passenger Ship]