Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co.
In 1838 a shipyard called Ditchburn & Mare Shipbuilding Co was founded between East India Dock Basin and Bow Creek where the River Lea joins the Thames.
The yard was among the first to build iron ships including warships for the Admiralty. It grew and expanded into civil engineering and business continued to roll in. But in the 1850s it was almost forced to close down. Happily, the local MP for Greenwich, Peter Rolt, came to the rescue and in 1857 transferred the company’s assets to a new limited company, The Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company.
In its new guise, the yard picked up. It was to build the world’s largest iron warship at that time, HMS Warrior, (1861) the first iron-hulled frigate, HMS Minotaur, Westminster Bridge (1862) and “two Peruvian gunboats” – Yavarí and Yapura (1862). These two gunboats in kit form were dispatched on 28th June 1862 on the Mayola and accompanied by Chief Engineer, William Partridge, and skilled tradesmen Joseph Ashbury, Andrew Dyer, Charles William Scott, John Buckham, George Blaxland, William Kemp and Joseph Bank, all of whom save two being from the Medway.
Business was booming when Arnold Hills became manager in 1890. The order book was full of commissions from the Admiralty and many foreign navies. Hills was a philanthropist. Concerned for the welfare of his 3,000 employees accustomed to working a 12 hour-day, he pioneered the eight hour working day.
West Ham United Football Club
Hills inspired the formation of the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Football Club in 1895. Keen to engage professional players, they became West Ham United Football Club and in 1904 moved to the Boleyn Ground. Sadly the shipyard went into liquidation in 1912 but the Club, known as The Hammers, continues to thrive. It is in the Premier League and in 2016 moves to London’s Olympic Stadium.
West Ham United Foundation
West Ham United is a family club. It is loved for what it does on the pitch, but also for its work to improve the quality of life of some of London’s most deprived communities. At the heart of this is the West Ham United Foundation established in 1990. This autonomous registered charity plans and delivers a wide ranging programme of services, events and courses designed to have maximum positive social impact for participants.
The Foundation is well known for its pioneering work in creating life changing opportunities for people of all backgrounds. Working in partnership with a host of public, voluntary-community and private sector organisations, it has been highly successful in developing projects and services for the benefit of local communities.