The Loftsman
Leith Shipyards

A history of the Ships built at the Henry Robb Shipyard in Leith, Scotland. Also a testimony to the men who built the Ships and to all who sailed in them.
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Leith Shipyards

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Welcome to the website we call Leith shipyards, primarily about the shipyard that was Henry Robb shipbuilders. And also about the four previous shipyards that all became the Henry Robb shipyards.



The photograph above shows the last ship to be launched at the LEITH SHIPYARDS of HENRY ROBB in 1983 ending more than 660 years of shipbuilding in the Port.

We also wish to introduce you to an informative website all about shipbuilding, ships and the sea.


For what started out as a blog, now requires a website to do justice to all the fine vessels built in Leith over the years. This site is dedicated to the ships built at the last shipyard, on the River Forth – the Henry Robb shipyard at Leith.

The site is also dedicated to all the men and women who may have worked there or served on any of the 500 or more ships built in Leith at the Henry Robb shipyard. But the story goes back further as the Henry Robb Shipyard ended up as an amalgamation of no less than four previous shipyards and in fact the story of shipbuilding on this small bit of land by the waters edge goes back to the Shipyard of Thomas Morton & Company which started in 1844.

Thomas Morton was the Shipwright responsible for the invention of the "Patent Slipway" (But thats another story)

So look forward to information on the previous shipyards which help to form the long pedigree of the shipbuilders of Henry Robb, from Thomas Morton & Co, to Hawthorn & Co onto Cran & Somerville Shipbuilders and then Ramage & Ferguson Shipbuilders, which combined with Robb's built more than 1,100 ships of all kinds.


The headline says it all

Advert for the World's most powerful Salvage Tug launched at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb in 1976

She just looked the part and now no longer around (scrapped last year)

We would like to hear from you if you have any connection with a Leith shipyard.

Save the SCOT II

The project to renovate the oldest “Ice Breaking” Tug left in the British Isles is now to be revived after a couple of years of the usual challenges she is now an official registered charity.

She will be restored to LloydsClass100A1Sea going ready again.

The SCOT II Ship No 184 built at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb Ltd and launched in 1931 is also on the Historical British Ships register as an important vessel in the long list of ships built in Britain.

The main difference this time is the College that it is hoped, will be involved to help restore her, is now going to be InvernessCollege, which is closer to where the old ship is presently berthed just now.

Now that she is to be owned by a registered charity the hard work to raise funds and to restore her to her old sea going condition can begin again in earnest with the good chance, that once again we will see this famous old ship back on her usual stretch of water travelling through the Caledonian Canal and into Loch Ness in Scotland once more.

The trust is now officially 'The Scot ll & Historic Vessels Renovation & Preservation Society SCIO ' Our charity number is SC045270 !

Our SCIO's Known name is 'The Scot ll Society.'

The registration date is 04 / 12 / 2014.

Appeals for funds and help will now begin and if anyone out there feels that they can contribute any small way then don’t hesitate to contact the website to be put in touch with the Save the SCOT II society, no amount of help or funds is too small or large.


All information is welcome; you may have served on one of the ships, we want to hear your story.

We would also appreciate any photographs/drawings of the ships.

We intend with "YOUR HELP" to make this the definitive story of the ships built at the Henry Robb Shipyard.

The site is about a shipyard, but we all know each ship has her own history, and of course all of the men and women who sailed on the ship have their stories to tell so, would love to hear from any one who sailed on those ships.

And as this site is run by a shipbuilder, we also intend to create a virtual library (Mould Loft) of some of the fine vessels built, they will be faithful recreations of the vessels, using the original offsets, ship drawings and Lines plans will also be created.

So for all you model makers and interested people keep on coming back, to see what has been added.

Leith Shipyards is the website for all ship enthusiasts. Be sure to also visit our new E-Book Library Ships and the Sea for all your maritime reading requirements all downloaded to your reader.



RSS BRANSFIELD arriving at "Maggie's Ditch" in Antarctica (Photo courtesy of Graeme Hart)

We aim for this website to one of the best and most informative maritime websites on the web, a tall order but with help it shall be the place to visit for anything to do with the sea and ships.

With a particular bias on ships built in Leith shipyards. After all they had been building ships at Leith for more than 600 years before the last shipyard was closed down. (Let us know how we are doing or what you would like to be included on the site)

As a part of keeping the site relevant and going we do feature some selected advertising such as the one below for expedia for all your travels plans why not give them a try along with helping the website.

Remember this is a growing and ongoing site, being updated as time and research permit, so keep checking in to see what's new.

We would also like to bring to your attention the growing Ship Photos page, and a big thank you to all who have contributed to this library of ship photographs which is being continually added to these are your pages so feel free to contribute with any ship photographs you may wish to see on the website.


 Shipbuilders plate on SCOT II


 The Shipbuilders brass plate from the SCOT II (Ship No 184)





 An iconic scene at the Leith Shipyards of Henry Robb with the Rig Supply ship SEAFORTH SOVEREIGN on the berth

 While from around 45 years previous the photograph below shows the construction of an as yet un-named ship from 1937 and I can tell you that apart from the 20 ton cranes on the berth (above photograph) not much had changed when you got to building on the berth as regards conditions.



Possible Book!!!!!!  

With all the collated information about the Leith shipyards at Henry Robb it has been suggested that there may be scope for a couple of books to be produced about the famous old yard and the ships built there, there may now be two books produced from the Leith Shipyards site, so if you think that you may have an interesting story that could or should be told in print then please send it in to the website for review.





The Way of a Ship

The Way of a Ship

When, as a young man in the 1880s, Benjamin Lundy signed up for duty aboard a square-rigged commercial sailing vessel, he began a journey more exciting, and more terrifying, than he could have ever imagined: a treacherous, white-knuckle passage around that notorious "graveyard of ships," Cape Horn. A century later, Derek Lundy, author of the bestselling Godforsaken Sea and an accomplished amateur seaman himself, set out to recount his forebear's journey. The Way of a Ship is a mesmerizing account of life on board a square-rigger, a remarkable reconstruction of a harrowing voyage through the most dangerous waters. Derek Lundy's masterful account evokes the excitement, romance, and brutality of a bygone era -- "a fantastic ride through one of the greatest moments in the history of adventure" ( Seattle Times ).



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0 #10 David McGarry 2014-07-20 09:25
Jim Gibson posted a comment on the 2012-01-04 and mention over a list of 40 names. Would it be possible for Jim to post the names of the friends he worked with on the website. I know it has been over 2 years since you made the list, but could you please post the name you can recall.

Many thanks
+1 #9 rab dignan 2014-07-06 14:41
Hi.i would like to get in touch with david mcgarry. many thanks
0 #8 Mark Young 2012-12-12 15:49
I served my time as a sheet-metal worker from 1972 -76 I have some photos of the old apprentice training centre circa 72 somewhere ,I will look them out and get them to you.
0 #7 d.mcgarry 2012-06-26 09:58
david mcgarry
i remeber rab dignan so if he wants to get in touch let me know
thanks dave
0 #6 David McGarry 2012-04-22 10:31
I served my apprenticeship in Robb’s in Leith between 1956 – 1961. When there was no order in 1961, they paid off 64 shipwrights and I was one of them, as I just finished my apprenticeship. I was only given 2 hours notice. I have good memories of those days. I have been working abroad for most of my adult life and lost contact with all of them. If there is anyone that served their time during that period, I would be interested to hear from them.
0 #5 Jim Gibson 2012-01-04 01:07
I served my time as an a Apprentice Shipwright in Robbs from 1951 to 1956
before emmigrating to Canada.
I have many happy memories of the time I spent there. I sat down with a paper and pencil the other night and came up with a list of over 40 names of some of the great characters and friends I met there.
I hope some of them find this great site and contact me.
Keep up the good work
Jim Gibson aka Gibby Ottawwa Canada
0 #4 Gordon Reidie 2012-01-01 10:23
I worked in Robbs in the 70's and putting up the ships clock in the mess or fixing the brass name plate up was always a prize job as an apprentice !! Happy memories ...........
+1 #3 Craig Mair 2011-07-21 13:17
I'm a historian currently working on a particular shipbuilding-re lated project. This is a great site, full of excellent historical evidence, personal experience and great knowledge. Great photos, great clarity of explanation of shipyard work and conditions. Well done!
+1 #2 Kenny 2010-12-11 11:06
Fantastic website you have built
-1 #1 John Stewart 2010-12-05 14:12
I congratulate you on this new website. I am sure it will go from strength to strength as it becomes known.

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