Forrestt Shipyard, Wivenhoe

Anon, 64pp photocopy (Essex County Libraries E.WIV 623.83)

Summary by Pat Marsden

A review of the Forrestt Shipyard, Wivenhoe. The family business was established in 1788 and later became a limited company. The review describes the business as ship, yacht and boat builders and engineers, with contracts with the Admiralty, War Department, Royal National Lifeboat Institution, Crown Agents for the Colonies and Foreign Governments.

It describes the type of vessels built: small steamers, steam yachts, stern-wheelers, submarine boats, motor boats, torpedo boats, fire-floats, tugs, steam life-pinnaces and cutters, steam launches, sailing barges, rowing and sailing boats, in wood, iron, steel, and composite.

The brief history of the business is followed by views, engravings, illustrations and plans of various vessels, etc.


See also the Section with lots of pages dedicated to this shipbuilding yard in Wivenhoe – click here

This page was added on 20/02/2016.

Comments about this page

  • A Forrestt booklet can be found at

    By Daniel Simons (23/07/2020)
  • Three generations of my family worked for Forrestts moving with them from Limehouse to Wivenhoe. I too would be interested in accessing the book summarised on this page.
    I am particularly interested in the connections with the Congo.
    In 1886 Forrestts supplied a boat to the Sanford Exploring Expedition. The “Florida” was a 15 ton steamer delivered to the mouth of the Congo in pieces to be portered overland from Matadi to Stanley, where it would be assembled. This was in the early years of the exploitation of Africa and Sanfords expedition was primarily in pursuit of resources and trade. He was however trumped by Henry Morton Stanley, who commandeered the”Florida” and set off on his mission to relieve Emin Pasha. The boat was eventually returned and at a later date transported Joseph Conrad up the Congo on a journey which was the inspiration for ” The Heart of Darkness”.
    I assume my Great Grandfather Edward Dunne and possibly his father, also Edward, must have had a hand in the making of the “Florida” in Limehouse.
    When Forrestts moved to Wivenhoe this connection to the Congo carried on into the 20th century when a generation later my grandfather Richard, a plater, was employed to build palm oil tanks for the Belgian State Palm Oil Company in 1913. Richard was then involved in dismantling, transporting and reassembling a river boat, the “St George” (not built by Forrestts). In 1916 he was engaged by the Admiralty to take the boat overland from Matadi to Lake Tanganyika to support Commander Spicer Simpsons attempt to take on the Germans on the lake. A story which was the basis of “The African Queen”.

    By Chris Dunne (02/02/2020)
  • I`m a Danish maritime historian, corrently working on the history of the lifeboats of Scandinavia, where several were built by the Forrestt boat builders at Norway Yard, Limehouse, London.
    I`m very interested in getting my hands of the Review about the Forrestt shipyard in Wivenhoe, of which Pat Marsden has made a summary. How do I do that?
    Asger Nørlund Christensen

    By Asger Nørlund Christensen (25/11/2019)
  • Apologies for the delay in replying. The copy I obtained was a photocopy from the Essex Library (Local Studies) Service. It may be possible that there is a copy in The Nottage Maritime Museum in Wivenhoe. If you contact John Collins at he may be able to advise you. That may also be a photocopy of the original but they might be willing to provide with a copy.

    By Pat Marsden (19/12/2019)

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