The Crowpill Ship Building Yard

This picture postcard, taken between about 1905 and 1914 is marked ‘Saltlands’, although would more accurately be described as Crowpill. A little searching on the old maps reveals the location from where it must have been taken.
This 1904 OS map was made about the same time that the photograph was taken, and the two match up nicely. The red cross marks where the photographer stood and, looking north we can see the crane, the river wharf used by Barham’s Cement and brick and Tile Works. On this map, the little building on the left is part of a stone yard, a depot for storing building material.
When we go back to the 1888 OS maps, we learn that this complex of buildings had been a shipbuilding yard. This was probaby the yard of Gough and Nation, who built smal ships of up to about 350 tonnes, and closed in about 1880. In the even older Tithe map this plot of land is described as a timber yard belonging to Frederic Axford, and to the north (field ’30’ on the 1904 map) was once a brickyard, although clearly this had gone by 1888.
Looking closely at the photograph, we see that this part of the ship building yard was a simple timber structure. Only a few years after this picture was taken these buildings were demolished to make way for housing.

Jarman, History of Bridgwater (St.Ives, 1889)
Lawrence & Lawrence, A History of Bridgwater (Phillimore, Chichester, 2005)
Squibbs, Squibbs’ History of Bridgwater (Phillimore, Chichester, 1982)