puffers & vics



Rowhedge Iron Works Co.Ltd.  Essex

The village of Rowhedge is situated on the River Colne in Essex, not far from the town of Colchester.  The village itself has a long connection with seafarers, including being known as a pirate's haven.  Piracy had presumably long ceased when three former employees of the shipbuilders Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson on the Tyne: Walter Exton, Frank Maslen and Lewis Foster, established the Rowhedge Iron Works in the town in 1904. Their yard occupied the site of the former Donyland Shipyard which had burned down in 1898.

In 1909 Maslen and Foster emigrated leaving Walter Oxton running the company and in 1915 he took over the shipbuilding business of the Harris Brothers which had been operating nearby on the Colne since 1865. 

During World War 2 the yard built three standard VICs  (76, 77 and 78), as well as at least six other small vessels for military service.  Into the 1950s and the business turned its attention back to building small coastal craft for overseas buyers, often in kit form for assembly abroad.  This followed in the yard's tradition of this type of work as in 1912 they built a passenger vessel for use on Lake Titicaca, Peru, and in 1929 a sternwheel paddle steamer for the upper Nile in Egypt. In total over its 60 year existence until it closed in 1964,  the yard built some 900 ships.    .