Alfred Yarrow

Sir Alfred Yarrow (1842 - 24 January 1932) started a ship-building dynasty from humble origins in east London. After serving an apprenticeship in Stepney, he opening a yard - Yarrow & Hedley (a partnership) - at Folly Wall, Poplar on the Isle of Dogs in 1865 to build steam river launches.

He then (c.1871) ventured into military vessels, building torpedo boats (for the Argentine and Japanese navies, among other customers) and then (c.1892) destroyers (HMS Havock and HMS Hornet).

By this time, the Hedley partnership had been dissolved (1875), and the company was known as Yarrow & Co, and around 1898 moved out of Folly shipyard to the nearby London Yard. It was to be a short-lived move, for less than 10 years later (1906-08) Yarrow gradually moving his yard northwards to Scotstoun on the banks of the river Clyde on the west coast of Scotland, closing the London shipyard in 1908. An operation in Vancouver, Canada was also started. (Yarrows was later purchased by GEC in 1974; in 2003 it was part of BAe Systems Marine.)

He lived in Greenwich, London for some years - occupying Woodlands in Mycenae Road, Westcombe Park for some years from 1896.

Some links with east London remain: Yarrow Crescent in East Ham was presumably named after him or his yard.

Knighted in 1916, Sir Alfred displayed extensive philanthropic tendencies, donating towards: residences for soldiers' widows in Hampstead Garden Suburb (the Barnett Homestead, Erskine Hill); a school, Bearwood, in Berkshire; a home and hospital for children in Broadstairs, Kent; a scholarship at University College London; and medical research at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, among other noble causes. He also left a bequest to the Institution of Civil Engineers.


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