Video: Three Tugs Launched Sideways (1931)

Three Tugs Launched Sideways (1931)

This video was formerly a short cine film which would have been shown in cinemas across the UK.  That film was made in 1931 at the shipyard of Richard Dunston Limited on the bank of the Stainforth and Keadby Canal, Thorne, Yorkshire, England. Three steam tugs, known simply as No 6, No 11 and No 12, built for the same owner, London and North Eastern Railway Company, were to be launched on the same day.

A brief report in the Spalding Guardian  of 21 March, 1931 confirms the planned date of the launch as Saturday11 April, 1931. 


      The London and North Eastern Railway(LNER) announce that three tug boats which are being built for use at Grimsby Fish Docks are to be launched simultaneously on Saturday, April 11th. The tug boats are being built in the Thorne yard of Messrs Richard Dunston Limited and are to be used for towing fishing vessels from point to point within the Fish Docks at Grimsby. The vessels are steel screw propelled boats each with a boiler having two furnaces and developing 180 IHP.

The Liverpool Journal of Commerce, Friday 1 May, 1931 provides us with a more detailed report written after the launch:



   Three steam tugs which have been constructed to the order of the London and North Eastern Railway Company for service at Grimsby and in the River Humber have been launched by Messrs Richard Dunston Limited. The dimensions of the tugs are 65ft long by 14ft moulded breadth by 8ft moulded depth and they are installed with compound surface condensing engines of 200 indicated horse-power by Messrs Plenty and Son Limited.

     The vessels have been specially designed and constructed to meet the particular service for which they are required and are built to Lloyd’s highest class and to Board of Trade requirements. The construction has been carried out under the superintendence of Mr F R C Cookson, MIMechE, MINA, MIMarE, the L and NE Railway Company’s marine superintendent engineer from Grimsby. The launches of the vessels took place before a large number of people and among those present were Captain and Mrs Turnbull, Mr and Mrs Barker, Mr F R C Cookson all of Grimsby, and Mr McCurdy of Lloyd’s Register of Shipping.

     It is a point of interest that all three tugs were launched successively in one afternoon with only a few minutes interval between each launch. Vessesl at this shipyard are always launched sideways and not “end-on” as is the usual method and the launches are therefore more spectacular. Representatives of Pathe’s Sound News were present and sound films were taken of the launches.

 Publication permission for copyright images

We acknowledge that copyright images are being shown for which no explicit permission to publish has been given to this Society. Many of the digital images shown had originally been produced with the knowledge and permission of the now defunct Yorkshire Waterways Museum from original photographs deposited there for public display.  Following the closure of that organisation in 2019 and the break up of their collection those original photographs have disappeared and have effectively been lost to the public.

Through an incredible stroke of good fortune digital copies of those images were donated to this Society in 2022 allowing our volunteers to finally achieve the wishes of those photographers and collectors who had made the original donations.

If you are the copyright holder and would like to contact the Society please use the form below.


Become a Member

For 2023 there is no charge for membership of the Society. You will be sent our regular email newsletter telling you what's new and coming soon. To register simply fill in the form below and click Sign up today!

Become a Member

* indicates required


Your help and donations in keeping the society, it's research and website running are much appreciated!