Another photograph taken in Edward Finch’s shipyard one hundred years ago.

Although it had been nationalised by the government, shipbuilding continued here using the traditional “old working methods” rather than the pre-fabrication and assembly of the neighbouring National Shipyard No 1, which aimed to produce ships faster and without the need for a skilled workforce.

Meanwhile, in Finch’s yard skilled shipyard workers had been building ships to the “Standard” designs.

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At the end of 1916, the British government had appointed a shipping controller with wide powers to provide and maintain an effective supply of shipping, as Britain was losing huge numbers of its merchant shipping to enemy action.

An extensive shipbuilding programme was started and it was decided that ships would be of a simple design and standardised as far as possible – hence the name “Standard” ships.

The ships produced were given names prefixed by “War”. At Chepstow’s Finch’s Yard this resulted in a series of ships with fruity associations – the War Fig, War Apple, War Grape.

Text by the curator of Chepstow Museum.