Please help us - Sir William Reed?

Rafal Zahorski
11th July 2010, 20:51
Sir William Reed - I do not know if this question is suitable to be given here. But for sure "The Old Shipmates" is not good too.

For these guys who do not know him I can give you some brief info:

He was a father of many Whale Catchers, than he designed our THPV Bembridge in 1938 (she was testing a new designed hull for flower class corvettes) than after her he designed three classes of Corvettes: Flower, than Castle and on the end River class. So he was one of the famous naval engineers in UK, he finally received OBE so as British citizen had a right to use Sir title.

He was working in Schlesinger Davis & Company, Wallsend, and Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd. and finally he joined Smith's Dock in 1898. In 1909 he was appointed general manager at the yard at South bank. He was finally a director of of Smith's Dock Co. Ltd. This position he held since 1917. From 1944 until 1946 he was consultant naval architect. He died on the 4th or 5th October 1948 aged 73.

Now why I am asking?

Do not try to find any his picture or biography in internet. No chance. I was trying to find as much as possible but no chance. It looks that his person is fully today forgotten. Why? He was not a guy being present everywhere. He was known as a hard working man and as you see he was working till the last minutes of his fruitful life.

I am looking for all details about this man, any pictures, any written materials , any family ... I intend to memorize him by making his biography and place it together with his pictures on board of his daughter - so our old lady Bembridge. Additionally his full biography will be placed on

I written many e-mails and I received only these two attached scans.

His children you can find here:

That is all what I know about him. Please help us to find much more

Best greeting Rafal

Rafal Zahorski
13th July 2010, 20:49
Come on Guys,

Really nothing?

I can not believe, really!

Somebody should know something more for sure

Best greeting Rafal

14th July 2010, 11:59
He was gone by the time I started there, however, I am still trying to contact one of the "old boy's" to see if he knows anything. Big Lenny T would not be old enough to have been there at that time I would think.

Ron Stringer
14th July 2010, 13:02
Is there anything to be found about him in the archives of the Company?

I'm not knowledgeable about online searches of the NA and have problems in getting to Kew these days, so someone else may be able to help here. There are a couple of locations of repositories listed.

Good luck

14th July 2010, 15:23
Hi Rafal

If your man is as senior and as well known in the shipping industry as appears to be the case, there is a good chance there will be something on him in the shipping publications of the time - such as Shipping & Syren magazine, The Motor Ship and even Sea Breezes. I think also there was a publication peculiar to the north east of the UK, though I don't know its name - try Tyne & Wear Archives if you want to pursue that line of enquiry. I do know that Southampton Reference Library (special collections) has copies of these other publications and your best chance lies there. I have seen features on prominent personalities in the shipping world, including obituaries, and these are usually accompanied by a photograph. I will have a look next time I go there, unless other members can beat me to it. I'm sure what you seek exists - just have to find it.

Dave W

14th July 2010, 18:22
The publication pecurliar to the Nort East may well have been the journal of The North East Coast Institute of Engineers and Shipbuilders, this was disbanded in the late 1980s/early 1990s and the archives placed with Tyne and Wear Archives as Wightspirit says

Seem to recall that South Tyneside College had bound copies of the proceedings also. They also had a collection of publicity material from some of the shipyards, - might be worth a letter.


Rafal Zahorski
15th July 2010, 06:39
Thank to all of you for help.

Dear Chadburn, did you work before in Smith's Dock? I understood you well? When?

We are creating a small museum on Bembridge and certain space will be dedicated to a history and activity of Smith's Dock. So we are collecting all things related to Smith's Dock. I was visiting with my colleague Kamil this year all facilities where were Smith's Dock. So I am naturally looking for a contact with anybody who can help with this subject. Please look at here: - you can see a history of SD, some scanned documents and books related to Smith's Dock and us keeping in hands original Smith's Dock flag from 30'

Thank you Ron, Dave and Duncan - I will trace that places and I will let you know here what I was able to find.

Anyway If anybody will find anything will be nice to have it and we can make his biography just here and publish here his pictures. So will be one place in interent where he will be near his vessels.

Once again many thanks for your kind help.

Best greeting Rafal

16th July 2010, 11:54
My contact started at Smith's in 1939 as an Apprentice Marine Fitter and then went to sea in 1945/46. Although he knew the name as far as he remembered he had never met him which is not unusual in the old shipyard culture as Senior Management never directly spoke to the "worker's", anything that had to be said to them was passed through the pecking order down to the Foreman who then passed it on to the man/men concerned, even if the "Boss" was in the same place as the Worker he would tell the Manager or Foreman but would not walk over and talk directly to the worker/s concerned (it still happened when I was there in the mid 1950's). His other comment was that as far as he was aware Sir William did not design the Corvette's but of course was involved in their production. It does seem strange that there is no info about him readily available (bearing in mind his credits) so it is a matter of member's looking through old Journal's and hopefully finding something, which is what I will be doing.

16th July 2010, 17:23
Chadburn, were you at Smiths when they boiled the dock to remove a cargo of asphalt from a Shell tanker? it was about 13-15000 tons I think, although it could have been smaller.

John Rogers
16th July 2010, 17:31
There should be some data available on his nomination for the OBE.


Rafal Zahorski
16th July 2010, 20:26
Dear Chadburn, it looks you started to work just one year after THPV Bembridge was born - she is 1938 - so one year before you started.

wow, you started when you were ...15??? So you remember all flower class corvettes? You were toughing Gladiolus??? It is incredible. It will be a great pleasure to shake you hand really.

Yes you are right - it is strange. But... we have in Poland a certain theory. He was hidden by British Admiralty during WWII but specially after a war. It looks it was done in such a way to forget about him especially. Anyway it is really a strange story.

I have a very important question: are you able to find him on the picture showing any launching in Smith's Dock.

Thank you very much in advance for your help in you searching/

Dear John - I had the same suggestion from Poland. Some journalists told me that in an application for OBE there is a biography and a lot of arguments proving an ability to achieve that honor. But do you have any idea where I can find such a data? Where I can sent any mail or letter?

Once again many thanks for all help. I am now checking all posted "arrows" - if any I will place it here.

Great thanks Rafal

17th July 2010, 17:18
Looks like we have a communictions interface malfunction going on here, it was an old friend (86yrs old) I contacted who started in 1939 and he worked through the War at Smith's and then went to sea. My App started in 1955, my claim to fame (if you could call it that) is that as an Apprentice I assisted on the last VTE+T Smith's ever built, my initials were "popped" on to the underside of the LP Crosshead. Working on this engine assisted me greatly in later years when working on other's and I was the "Geordie 4th" on the Ardrossan.

John Rogers
17th July 2010, 18:18
Rafal,I would think there would be a OBE association somewhere in the UK and they may shed some light on his Bio, making contact with a British MP could help if you lived in the UK,but living in Poland that could be difficult unless you have friends in the UK.


Rafal Zahorski
18th July 2010, 20:22
Hello everybody, I am continuing my searching. I found interesting link:

Here you can find a full text of NAVAL SERVICE OF CANADA. It looks it is ocr of original book. I have already corrected some mistakes.

There are 4 interesting pages where we can find many details about William Reed:

Page 30:

The flower-class corvette, which was to play such a large
role in the history of the Canadian navy during the Second
World War, was originally called the "patrol vessel, whaler
type", and its design had in fact been based on that of a commercial whalecatcher. 24 Its origin may be traced back to the
First World War, when submarine warfare had been inaugurated on a large scale and numerous fishing vessels had been
brought into service for auxiliary anti-submarine duty. Later
in that war the Admiralty had begun to build specialized ships
for this work. These were small merchant or fishing vessels,
and could be constructed by firms not employed on more
complex or highly-skilled naval building. An anti-submarine
vessel of particular interest in connection with the development of the corvette was the "Z"-class whaler built by Smith's
Dock Co. of South Bank near Middlesbrough, Yorkshire. It
was smaller than the corvette, but was similarly based on a
whalecatcher design: indeed it had been camouflaged to look
like an ordinary whalecatcher with a dummy whaling gun on
the bow and a crow's nest on the mast.

Early in 1939, Mr. William Reed, O.B.E., of Smith's Dock
Co., who had designed the "Z"-class whaler, was again called
into consultation by the Admiralty in connection with preparations for an anti-submarine war. The Admiralty's problem,
as outlined by the C.N.S. on January 2, 1939, was to find more
suitable submarine chasers than either sloops, which "cost too
much when we want numbers," or trawlers, which were "too
slow to use as a striking force." Considerations that would
have to be taken into account in addition to cost and speed
were seaworthiness, maneuverability, acceleration, water-tight
subdivision, endurance, asdic efficiency, rapidity of production
in yards not likely to be engaged with other naval work, and
finally, complement. The last was particularly important as
the manning problem would certainly be one of the most
difficult to solve in the event of war.

Mr. Reed's interview with the Director of Naval Construction at the Admiralty in February 1939, was not unlike one he
had had with Lord Fisher in March 1915, when he had told of
his special study of whalecatching beginning with a visit to the
Antarctic whaling regions in 1912, and of how most of the
improvements which he had subsequently made in his whale-
catchers had also made them better for hunting submarines —

''^ Information on the origin of the corvette design was obtained from Mr. William Reed, O.B.E., managing director of Smith's Dock Co., Ltd., South Bank, Middlesbrough, Yorkshire.

Page 31

Procurement OF SHIPS -DEFENSE OF CANADA, 1939-41

the same rapid acceleration, maneuverability, and seaworthiness, being required for both purposes. The Smith's Dock
whalecatcher which had interested the D.N.C. particularly in
1939, and on which Mr. Reed based the corvette design that he
brought back to the Admiralty early in April, was the Southern

The new drawings embodied a number of changes which
Mr. Reed considered necessary in order to meet war requirements. The hull and machinery still followed commercial
standards, the main engine being, in fact, an exact duplicate
of the reciprocating engine in the Southern Pride. The length
of 190 feet, however, was some 30 feet greater than that of the
Southern Pride, and there were two Scotch marine boilers in
place of one of the water-tube type. Provision was also made
tor extensive water-tight subdivision, and tor the addition of a
4-inch gun and an asdic set as well as other armament and
equipment specified by the Admiralty.

The main objections raised by Admiralty officials were to
the speed of the new design and its added length. The estimated speed of 153^2 to 16 knots compared very unfavorably
with the nearly 20 knots reached by the latest sloops. It was
suggested that by retaining the water-tube boiler an increase
of one knot might have been possible. Mr. Reed explained,
however, that for the sake of rapid production Scotch boilers
would have to be accepted since they could be obtained in
about sixteen weeks, while makers of water-tube boilers would_
not promise any deliveries for at least seven months in view of
the existing emergency. The extra length of the vessel, Mr.
Reed said, was in order to avoid the reduction in speed which
would otherwise have resulted from the increased displacement
caused by adding water-tight bulkheads, another boiler, and
the naval armament and equipment. Under these circumstances the Smith's Dock "patrol vessel, whaler type", was
approved by the Admiralty as the best anti-submarine vessel
for rapid production, and the first order was placed on Julv 25,

The rather devious way in which information regarding
this new whalecatcher or corvette design reached N.S.H.(^.
exemplifies the fortuitous character of many events in those
I first days of war. At its annual meeting in the spring of 1^>39,
the Canadian Manufacturers Association had decided to send
a mission to the United Kingdom to study war production.
The mission sailed on July 29.

Page 61


The corvettes in this new programme were ordered earlv
in 1941,122 and were the first of the revised class to be built in
Canada. Even before 1940 Mr. William Reed, the designer of
the original vessel, had expressed concern at its bow-heaviness
caused by greater weight forward than he had anticipated.
The Admiralty had been anxious at that time to avoid anv
change which might delay production; but when it became
necessary the following winter to use corvettes for ocean
convoy work, and bitter complaints came in regarding their
behaviour in North Atlantic seas, Mr. Reed's revisions were
accepted. The two most important of these were an increase
in the sheer and flare of the hull forward in order to give
greater buoyancy there, and a lengthening of the forecastle,
partly for the same purpose and partly to give more adequate
accommodation for the crew, which had been greatly aug-
mented. ^-^ Plans incorporating these changes arrived in
Canada in April, 1941, too late for any but the last ten ships
to be altered. All of this group were built in eastern Canada,
because of the exceptionally high tender prices offered by
west-coast firms on this occasion. A few were completed by
the end of 1941; the rest by the spring or early summer of
1942. Contracts for the twelv^e M.L.'s had not been let until
about the middle of July, 1941, ^-^ because of delays in connec-
tion with the first M.L. order, and for the same reason com-
missioning did not take place until May and June 1942.

In the fall of 1940 the Royal Canadian Navy obtained
eight destroyers which did not form part of any naval pro-
gramme. One was the river-class destroyer H.M.C.S. Mar-
garee, purchased from the Admiralty to replace the Fraser
which had been lost in June.^" This vessel, formerly H.M.S.
Diana, had been built' in the early 1930's and was almost
identical with Fraser.

^"^^ Information obtained from Mr. William Reed, O.B.E.
>^ P.C. 5428, July 22, 1941.
i=» P.C. 3943, Aug. 15, 1940.

Page 66

Discussions concerning a new type of ocean escort vessel
had begun in the United Kingdom in November 194(), at the same time as plans were being made for a makeshift revision
of the corvette. Mr. Reed of Smith's Dock Co., who was again
consulted, proposed a twin-screw vessel with two corvette
engines and two water-tube boilers. He suggested that its
length should be 320 ft. so that it would ride more smoothly
in the long Atlantic waves. His recommendations were
approved, except that the length was reduced to 301 ft.,
over-all, to allow for the limited size of the building slips in
certain yards. The first twin-screw corvettes, soon afterwards
renamed frigates,- were ordered in the United Kingdom in
February 1941. ^

Word of the frigate design reached Ottawa in December
1940; and by the following April, shortly after the first order
had been placed in the United Kingdom, enough information
was available for the Naval Service to begin investigating the
practicability of building frigates instead of corvettes in
Canada.'' Many difficulties would arise in making such a
change. Output would be retarded, partly because the frigate,
being a larger vessel and containing more elaborate fittings,
would take a longer time to build. The greater expense of the
frigate and the increased personnel needed to man it raised
still other problems. The most serious objection, however, was
that the vessel would be too long to pass through the St. Lawrence canals, and consequently could not be built in Great
Lakes yards. ^ The extent to which this would restrict building
may be judged from the fact that a third of the corvettes and
Bangors already built or on order at that time were from
yards in that region. In spite of these impediments, the
advantages of the frigate were so great as to be decisive. She
had a speed of 19 knots as compared with the corvette's 16
knots, and an endurance of 7,200 miles at 12 knots — about
' twice that of the smaller vessel. She also had better accommodation for the crew, and improved armament and equipment. By May 1941, therefore, the Naval Staff had decided
that while the existing corvette program should be completed, all future orders should be for frigates.

This type-name was suggested by the C.N.S., and accepted by the Admiralty. In the days of sail, frigates were vessels of the class next in size and equipment to ships of the line;
but the name as applied to any contemporary type of vessel had gone out of use.

' Information obtained from Mr. William Reed, O.B.E.

* Admiralty to C.N.S. (signal), Dec. 30, 1940, N.S. 1057-2-3 (1); Naval Staff Minutes, Apr.
25, 1941.

' The extreme length of the frigate was 301' 6"; that of the shortest canal lock only 270'. Corvettes were a little over 200' long.

That's all.

Best greeting Rafal

Rafal Zahorski
18th July 2010, 20:40
Just my previous post:

Over there you can find everything about corvettes of Mr. Reed.

Best greeting Rafal

Rafal Zahorski
20th July 2010, 18:13

We bought on ebay a nice brochure titled Ships & Man & issued by Smith's Dock in 1949 - so one year after Mr. Reed death.

We were very surprised - we found a picture of Sir William Reed. His name is mentioned on two pages.

I attached both picture and I enlarged his picture too.

So only now we know how he looked.

Best greeting Rafal

Hugh Ferguson
20th July 2010, 21:02
I can hardly believe all of this-you must be some kind of a genius, Rafal. Who on earth would even dream of looking on E.bay to find such material!!!!
I can only imagine the O.B.E. (Order of British Empire) was awarded for designing the Flower class corvettes, which I can remember seeing escorting convoys, and having a very hard time of it in the North Atlantic in winter.

Rafal Zahorski
20th July 2010, 22:06
Hello Hugh,

as you see we are trying to rediscover of a man who was responsible for whale catchers, Patricia, Bembridge, Flower & Castle & River class corvettes. What is very, very and very strange for all of us - Sir William Reed is a forgotten person. Nobody knows why but it is true. I've spent many hours trying to find him in internet. But what I am very surprised his biography is not possible to be obtained.

But why we are surprised? Why, if the biggest shipyard (data from 1929-1930) - so Smith's Dock is forgotten too? We were this April as you know in Smith's Dock. There is not even single memory board in a style of" Here was a Smith's Dock, a great shipyard, famous in the World, which saved so many human being during WWI (Kil type) and WWII (all corvettes).

In whole UK you can not find any constant exposition about Smith's Dock. No Museum have it and no institution. All what still exist after a SD you can find in stores of Kirkleatham Museum Redcar, Teesside Archives in Middlesbrough and really a few in NMM in London. And ... that's all.

What we can say? A shame? What words can describe such a story?

I contacted The Royal Institution of Naval Architects. They are trying to help me really. They contacted many people with our "stupid" inquiry. Only a short info arrived - it was just a "replay" of info what we had already.

For me it is impossible that nobody knows more details. Yes we are searching whole internet including e-bay to find anything about Smith's Dock. So we have many different brochures, 3 Smith's Dock Journals - all of them you can find as you know here:

Soon will be more - we must only scan it.

I will publish here everything what else we will find about that forgotten hero of WWII.

Best greeting


Rafal Zahorski
24th July 2010, 07:51

I just would like to inform that we published already that brochure from 1949 just here:

To have a max possible size to read please click on the arrows under any page + magnifying glass later on.

Over there you can see other archival books and brochures dedicated to Smith's Dock.

Soon we will publish 2 more Smith's Dock Journals - just arrived to us.

Best greeting Rafal

Hugh Ferguson
24th July 2010, 08:12
This is the best English history lesson I ever had-and it's coming from Poland!!!

27th July 2010, 14:51
This is the best English history lesson I ever had-and it's coming from Poland!!!

I agree with you Hugh, i think Rafal should get an MBE or OBE for his research
Well done Rafal keep up the good work (Thumb)

Rafal Zahorski
1st August 2010, 19:15
Dear Hugh and Captain61,

Thank you very much for all your worm words. I have just came back to a civilisation and I have back my internet access.

We are doing everything what is really required for our project. Simply saying all our searching are realated to Bembridge. As I wrote many time - we are trying to catch a flowing time. Smith's Dock was closed in 1987. Somebody can say - it was yesterday - NO! It was already 23 years ago. But Mr. Reed died in 1948. It was 62 years ago. Who can still remember him? Almost nobody. Retired guys working in Smith's Dock who can remeber him are now min. 80 years old. Hext questions - how many persons are interested to keep alive a history of a Smith's Dock? it is a pitty - not so many. That time many well known UK companies died due to a economical turbulences on British market. Smith's Dock was one of many different companies from a Tees River areas which was forgotten for ever. We have now the same case in our city in Szczecin - very old shipyard colapsed 2 years ago. No mercy. What will remain? Nothing too. So there is a general rule. It is wrong and sad, but ... everywhere in Europe is the same.

One day we will know much more about Mr. Reed and his shipyard and we will publish everything on THPV Bembridge board and on her web site. We are permanently receiving some info and we have more and more contacts. Mainly becouse of this nice place. Some peole are visiting that place and later on we are receiving some fascinating e-mails.

I will publish here everything new about Mr. Reed and his shipyard.

Best greeting Rafal

PS. Nobody form our team expect any privileges - just to get all required info and data will be our the best achievement.

Rafal Zahorski
7th August 2010, 07:07
Hello to everybody,

As I promissed we just published some new interesting brochures related to Smith's Dock and Mr. William Reed activity.

All of them are here:

You have two new Smith's Dock Journals: July 1927 and October 1931 they are here:

And we published 3 nice brochures about Smith's Dock from 1949 (the best in our opinion):


and 1951.

of course there is nothing about Mr. Reed but about corvettes you can find a lot in 1949.

Still no more info about Mr. Reed is available. If any help - always welcome!!!

Best greeting Rafal

Rafal Zahorski
19th September 2010, 19:57

Last days we completed some new "shelfs" in our archives.

Here you can see what we found in Middlesbrough

Here documents related to Smith's Dock but we received them from Mr. William R. Pickersgill - a grand grand son of Mr. Richard Pickersgill - they were supplying to Bembridge: electric network, navigational and pilot lights, heating and the used to supply a wooden life boats and motor boats for many SD vessels.

All their documents you can find here:

Please go to the bottom of this page.

Have a nice studying. There are many treasures in these two places.

A ... Sir William Reed - still no progress. Complete drama.

Best greeting Rafal

Rafal Zahorski
14th November 2010, 07:01

We are continuing our searching in a subject of Smith's Dock Co. Ltd. and Sir William Reed.

Yesterday we placed on 3 next issues of famous Smith's Dock Journal.

It is very difficult to get any of them. By two years I collected only 6 issues and last 3 are without covers unfortunately.

We are still looking for them - but ... mayby someone from all of you can rent us any issue to be scanned and published - originals we will sent back to you after scanning. Anybody?

Here you can find all our archives related to Smith's Dock

or in our gallery:

We have already a nice collection - and still only one picture of Sir William Reed. Still we do not have his biography!!! Drama.

So the new issues are:

01.1930 -

10.1931 -

01.1932 -

To see a full pages please click on the cross under each page.

Have a nice reading, Rafal

PS. One day we will enable a pdf download. Still this year.

Rafal Zahorski
12th January 2011, 08:52
Hello, I still can not find any biography of Sir William Reed. Really nothing and I can simply understand that such a great naval architect is fully forgotten. Maybe any ideas?

I was trying to trace a OBE files - but I have no access. I know only that every person who received OBE must have a special file with all data as a basement to receive any nomination for OBE.

Who can help me in UK with that story? We really intend do describe that man on our www and take him on open air from dark archives and library's shelfs.

Many thanks in advance Rafal

Rafal Zahorski
26th September 2011, 21:23

I asked RINA several times too, but they can not find anything about him too. Who can help us?

Many thanks in advance, Rafal

13th January 2012, 13:27
Hello Rafal,

I e-mailed you a few days ago but no reply. I gave you some information on Mr Reed that I got from a census and I just came across this bit in my grandfathers journals (full of information about ship engineering at that time) -

08.10.48 I attended the funeral of Mr W. Reed director of S.D.Co. at Bellingham, about 17 miles from Hexham.
A number of the Works taken by car. Lunch at `The George’ Chollerford, which is 12 miles this side of Bellingham. Our car suffered a puncture at Sedgefield which delayed us so much that we had to take our lunch after the funeral. It was a fine day.
I think Mr Reed is the last of the old school at S.D.. Forceful, individualistic, a little selfish, domineering, energetic and a driver. This type has had much to do in building up the various industries of the country. Bellingham - a quiet Northumbrian village on the N. Tyne. It reminded me of the burial place of Lloyd George at Crittieth.

Not great information but it's something! There's a few other mentions of him through the journal but nothing substantial.



Rafal Zahorski
14th January 2012, 22:27
Hello Peter,

I am sorry but I did not received your message. It is not anybody fault - my mailbox was overloaded by last 2 weeks and in some cases my server was rejecting a new e-mails. You can now resent your message and it will come to me without any problems. I am using three e-mail boxes:, and

Thank you very much for this story about Mr. Reed funeral. What is sad - now I know whew is his grave.

I can not understand why I can not find any other data. He was quite famous man that time. So many achievements, so many successful things, OBE and many other brave things.

I do not have an access to any archives in UK concerning Sir William Reed. So any articles, any data more than welcome.

Anyway when I will be next time in UK than I will try to visit that cemetery to find his grave.

Many thanks for any other news.

All our archives you can find just here:

By the way: JB Smithson is your grandfather, yes?

Best greeting


PS. Please try to find more in his archives ...

15th January 2012, 09:15

Yes JB Smithson is my grandfather. He worked on the same ships you mention that William Reed worked on. JB Smithson was a marine engineer and I believe William Reed was a company director.

I could not retrieve my sent e-mail as I used a form on the website but I managed to find the census record that I think relates to William Reed. Does this match what you know -

Name: William Reed
Age in 1911: 35
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1876
Relation to Head: Head
Gender: Male
Birth Place: North Shields, Northumberland, England
Civil parish: Saltburn by the Sea
County/Island: Yorkshire-North Riding
Country: England
Street Address: Sundon Windsor Road Saltburn By Sea
Marital Status: Married
Occupation: General Manager Ship Building

He had one child at that time. I did another search to see if he appeared on anyones family trees at but I couldn't see anyone. That's a shame as it's about the only way to find any living descendant that I can think of.



Rafal Zahorski
15th January 2012, 10:24
Dear Peter,

GREAT THANKS. You are the first one ever who given me any such detailed info about Sir William.

Married? One child? Strange ... Till now everybody was informing me that he died alone and no relatives found.

So it is changing completely our opinion about him.

Sorry to say - till now I did not even know his date of born.

Now I see - I must repair our contact form which is on our www. It doesn't work!!! Strange but on Monday I will check what is going on with it.

Yes ... it will be nice to find his family. Today it is a chance to find only his third or even forth generation.

My intention is to find as much as possible about him and memorise him on Anyway as far as I see our page will be only one dedicated to this great person.

Still can not believe that such a personality is lost in the history without any data.

Best greeting


PS. I am more than grateful for your kind and big help.

15th January 2012, 10:31

It's possible his daughter died young or that I happen to have hit on a very similar sounding record that isn't him - it happens sometimes when you're looking at family trees.

Ironically you may find out more in 10 years when the 1921 census is released - i.e. it gets easier to research this period as time goes on! Strange isn't it.


P.S. The 1911 census only just came out (they release them after 100 years) and you have to pay to get access to it so not that surprising nobody found it for you before.

18th January 2012, 13:34
I've found confirmation that he did have a daughter -

As the vessel left the ways, the christening ceremony was gracefully performed by Miss Katherine Reed,
daughter of Mr. William Reed, O.B.E., Director and General Manager of the South Bank establishment of Smith's
Dock Company Limited."

Retrieved 18 Jan 2012

It might be worth contacting the owner of that website to see if he can put you in touch with the person he mentions -

"From the pages of the May and December, 1923 issues of the Smith's Dock Monthly, the illustrated social
magazine for the company's workers and staff, kindly sent to me by John H. Proud of Middlesbrough, Teeside

If you sign up for a free account at and tell me your user name, you can see what I've found out about his family. (It's interesting for me to do this as I'm new to that website!).


Rafal Zahorski
18th January 2012, 21:05
Hello Peter,

Great Job. Thanks a lot. It is mean that Sir William had a daughter - she could be 20-30 years old in 1923. In my filling closer to 20 like 30. But even looking at the most positive younger age she is not living today for sure. When William had a funeral he could have grand children. Today there is a chance to find only his grandchildren being very old or grand grand children.

But Miss Katherine Reed could stay Miss to the end of her life. And than my theory is wrong.

Anyway it is sure now that there was a second generations for Reed family. So chances to find any documents remaining after Sir William are bigger.

I was trying to register on but they are asking for card details and other ones. I had a bad experience with card and free trials. Later on there is no chance to stop to charge your card. If you will find anything interesting please publish here or my e-mail is in your disposal too:

I will write e-mail to the editor of that web page where you find that article.

Wow... we are closer and closer.

I have friends in teeside archives. I will try over there too.

Best greeting Rafal

18th January 2012, 22:18

I've sent you an invite to that might make it easier. There's a free account and then there's a 14 day free trial that gives you access to their historical records that requires credit card - you should not have to do that. The purely free account will let you look at trees.

You'll see in the tree that Kathrine had 2 cousins - perhaps their children are still alive. Though they might be hard/impossible to find. Once you get past 1911, the census data is not available so it's hard to find anything. They were all born 1908 to 1910. So that might be as far as we can get with the site.

If you can't get logged on I'll have to find a way to send you the tree another way.



Rafal Zahorski
20th January 2012, 07:28
Hello Peter,

Great thanks for a tree.

I am today at home so I have a time to study three. It was built by a data coming from Church registers of baptised children. Looks that there is nobody active on that web page from Reed family.

I see that brother of William - Thomas was more active in his family building. So one brother was building a vessels and another family. So it looks that most probably Thomas relatives can still exist.

One day we will find more. Lets continue. Many thanks Rafal

Rafal Zahorski
8th April 2012, 18:16
Recently we bought on e-bay a nice Smith's Dock Journal - April 1924. It is now the oldest SD Journal what we have.

We have already a small collection - you can find April 1924 just here as a first Journal:

There are many nice pictures for everyone who likes an old shipbuilding industry.

But what is nice we found William Reed over there too:

1. cover
2. nice advertisement of Smith's Dock
3-4. present jobs in the shipyard
5. Board of Directors valid in 1924 and you can see Sir William Reed too.

To be continued ...

Rafal Zahorski
8th April 2012, 18:22
6 - so it is a third picture of Sir William Reed what we have and really the "youngest" one. I guess he is here approx 47 years old. Anyway this is the best picture what we have now.
7 - Smith's Dock Co. Ltd in 1924
8 - Full list of all docks
9 - 10 - the same place today - thanks to Google Earth.

I will keep you informed if I will find something new.

Greeting Rafal

9th April 2012, 13:45
There is still a fair amount of activity at Smith's Dock mainly to do with offshore work,one of the dock's is used to test remote submarine's.

Rafal Zahorski
9th April 2012, 15:48
Yes, it is true. I was visiting that place two years ago. But we could not visit a previous building of Director's offices and a place where our Bembridge was born. We could not received any permission to go inside.

One day I will publish all pictures.

Best greeting Rafal

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 19:54

Let me show to all of you how we build up a beautiful model of Flower Class Corvette - he was designed and build just after Bembridge. Bembridge was a prototype of a new class of corvettes but finally she was to modern and to expensive to build in nice number. All her features return later on to Castle and River class corvettes. What is very interesting a name "Corvette" for a whole class of escort vessels were given by Winston Churchill.

Model was build by Andy - so our Andrzej Koperek. He spent hundreds of hours during last two years and now our museum has a beautiful model of Flower Class Corvette. He is the most patient guy in our company.

Lets start from his hull...

Tbc ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 19:57
I agree with you - you must be crazy ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 19:59
Now a main gun ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:01
The rest of main gun and than main cannon ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:04
The rest of main cannon ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:06
Now life boats ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:07
The rest of life boat constructing and than our bombs ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:09
The rest of "bombs" and his windlass ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:12
again his windlass ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:13
Ready windlass and another different details ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:15
Again details ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:17
and again all details ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:19
And again ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:21
His radar and we are starting with ready ship ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:23
ready model ... in details

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:26
again ready ship ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:28
Now really ready model being already in our museum ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:30
Next pictures ...

Rafal Zahorski
11th June 2012, 20:37
4 pictures of his model and on the end a whole model in our board museum.

I know what most of you will think - is it any normal in a new crew of Bembridge?

Good question...

Best greeting Rafal

12th June 2012, 16:41
There is a Fund Raising effort presently taking place, the purpose being to have a Memorial to the Smith's Dock men who lost their live's during the Trial's of the Free French Corvette " La Bastiaise" which hit a mine in Tees Bay on the 22/6/1940. There were around 12 Smith's men lost along with 2 French Crew. The Memorial is to be placed in Smith's Dock Park.

12th June 2012, 17:21
There is a Fund Raising effort presently taking place, the purpose being to have a Memorial to the Smith's Dock men who lost their live's during the Trial's of the Free French Corvette " La Bastiaise" which hit a mine in Tees Bay on the 22/6/1940. There were around 12 Smith's men lost along with 2 French Crew. The Memorial is to be placed in Smith's Dock Park.

Interesting! My grandfathers journal talks about that incident. I provided some info to a guy on another forum -

It's not very clear but his journal is saying that the loss was 18 of the 25 British people killed, 41 of the 48 French were killed. Looks like he got the French count radically wrong!

12th June 2012, 21:02
Peter, I am a great believer in the word(s) of a person/people who were there at the time, therefore I would not dispute your Grandfather's figure's. The article I read about the fund raising could well be wrong when it came to the total lost in this sorry episode. They were a great loss to the Corvette build programme and indeed some that were lost may well have been on the Bembridge Trial's. Regard's.

donald h
12th June 2012, 22:37
Rafal, congratulations on producing a really excellent and very well researched article. This was well before my seafaring years, but I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through every posting, and what a superb model has been produced too to compliment the splendid display.
If only there was the same dedication available in this once fine seafaring country, we would be all the more richer for it.
Thank you once again for producing this wonderful archive.

regards, Donald

13th June 2012, 13:30
Interesting that K166 "Snowberry" was scrapped at Middlesbrough (1947) to provide Smiths with spare's for the ex Corvette's which had been purchased for Whaling.

Rafal Zahorski
13th June 2012, 23:49
Dear Donald - many thanks for your kind words. We just want to restore his biography - you can imagine or not but nobody know it.

Dear Peter - will be nice to publish on scans of your grandfather's journal - at list part related to Smith's Dock.

Dear Chadburn - what was a nice story - many whale catchers build in SD were taken on the beginning of WW II to army and than converted for escort vessels. After a WW II all of them were converted once again for a whale catchers or for fishing trawlers. We did not know that some of corvettes were taken apart to supply a spare parts for whale catchers.

Best greeting Rafal

14th June 2012, 15:19
Dear Donald - many thanks for your kind words. We just want to restore his biography - you can imagine or not but nobody know it.

Dear Peter - will be nice to publish on scans of your grandfather's journal - at list part related to Smith's Dock.

Dear Chadburn - what was a nice story - many whale catchers build in SD were taken on the beginning of WW II to army and than converted for escort vessels. After a WW II all of them were converted once again for a whale catchers or for fishing trawlers. We did not know that some of corvettes were taken apart to supply a spare parts for whale catchers.

Best greeting Rafal

Rafal, one of the longest Tow's ever undertaken in those day's Post War) was a former Corvette when Whaling broke it's Crankshaft and was Towed back to Smith's for a replacement. The Corvette's were eventually found to be unsuitable for Whaling Catching and were then used for Towing the Whale's from the bouy's where they had been left by the Whalecatcher's up to the Factory foreshore. As you know Smiths was a Family firm and there was very little turnover in labour that along with Shipyard's being a Reserved occupation during the War leads me to believe that some of the people killed on the French Corvette may well have worked on your vessel when she was in build and on Trial's pre-War.

Rafal Zahorski
22nd November 2013, 09:51
Let me remind this thread. We are still looking for more details about a Father of all Corvettes, so Sir. William Reed.

If anybody can help me by photos, documents or any new data already placed in this thread I will be more than happy.

Best greetings from Bembridge deck Rafal