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T.A. & C.H. Walker Shipbuilders, Railway and Civil Engineering Contractors

T.A. & C.H. Walker Shipbuilders, Railway and Civil Engineering Contractors
From Sudbrook to South America

Richard Clammer

248 pages. 275x215mm. Printed on gloss art paper, casebound with printed board covers, with 16 pages in colour.

ISBN13 : 9781915069238


In December 1879, when civil engineering contractor Thomas A. Walker arrived in Monmouthshire to complete the construction of the GWR's troubled Severn Railway Tunnel, one of his first tasks was to build the new village of Sudbrook to house his workforce. Walker was already highly respected for his numerous railway projects in the UK and abroad, and went on to strengthen his reputation by constructing dock basins at Swansea, Penarth, Barry and Preston, as well as winning the contract for the immense Manchester Ship Canal. By the time the challenging Severn Tunnel was successfully completed in 1886, Walker had already won a lucrative contract to build new docks in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and decided to open a shipyard at Sudbrook to construct the vessels he would need to service the new works. The yard opened in 1888 and over the next 34 years built over 250 steam hopper barges, coasters, tugs, sailing ships and other small vessels for the Walker Company and many other ship owners. Following T.A. Walker's death in 1889 his extensive business interests passed via his executors to his nephew Charles Hay Walker. C.H. Walker & Co. Ltd was incorporated in 1898 and went on to build more railways, port facilities ranging from a dry dock in Egypt to a dockyard in Bermuda, and even the first railway tunnel through the Andes mountains. In addition, there were several more South American dock contracts, in connection with which the village of Conchillas had been created in Uruguay to serve the company's stone quarries. It survives to this day as Sudbrook's distant 'twin'. This carefully-researched and beautifully-illustrated book tells the fascinating story of Sudbrook village, its forgotten shipyard and the many vessels built there, as well as providing the first detailed personal and professional biography of T.A. & C.H. Walker who, despite being two of Britain's foremost civil engineering contractors of their time, have never previously received the recognition they deserve.

T.A. & C.H. Walker Shipbuilders, Railway and Civil Engineering Contractors - Sample Images

sample book illustration
Penarth Dock Extension works underway on 2nd June 1883. On the right the masonry bases of four new coal tips are under construction, while in the centre rope-hauled railways lead down into the deep excavations. In the background the original 1865 dock is crowded with sailing ships, while the houses of Penarth can be seen on the headland above. Glamorgan Archives
sample book illustration
The Sudbrook-built  Helena  of 1889 unloading sand from Conchillas at one of the contractor's wharves near Catalinas, Buenos Aires. The view, looking south, appears to show the construction of the outer wall. Numerous steam cranes are in evidence but much of the work is being carried out by men using wheelbarrows. Amid all the activity the bowler-hatted gentlemen in the foreground are enjoying the timeless activity of fishing. Comisión Amigos de Conchillas