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Model of the steam ship Talpore

Shipbuilding has long been one of Teesside’s most important industries. Ships were being built in Stockton from as early as 1678, but it was in the late 1700s that the industry really began to develop. The early ships were built of wood but, with the discovery of ironstone in the local area and developments in steam power and propeller-driven technologies, there was a move towards building ships of iron in the latter half of the 19th century.

Model of the steam ship Talpore, c.1861

Talpore is one of the most significant ships to have been built on Teesside. Built in 1861, this gigantic vessel was the largest river steamer of its day. Built in Stockton by Pearce, Lockwood & Co., Talpore was built as a ‘troop’ ship, to transport soldiers on the River Indus in India (which was controlled by Britain at the time). The ship could accommodate an astonishing 800 troops and their officers, in two tiers of cabins (which can be seen on this model). Talpore became known as The Great Eastern of the North, after Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s famous ocean going steamship, built three years earlier in 1858 and by far the largest ship of its kind at the time.

Image courtesy of Preston Hall Museum and Grounds