Appledore shipyard in Devon to close

Appledore shipyard to close

A historic shipyard is to close despite a campaign to win new work to keep it open.

Babcock International said it had taken the “difficult decision” to close its Appledore yard in Devon next year.

Thousands of people joined a march recently in support of the yard and signed a petition which was handed to the Government asking ministers to help.

Babcock said in a statement that it would end its site lease in March 2019.

“Babcock’s focus is now firmly on its workforce and its determination to protect their employment within the business.

“To that end, the company will offer relocation opportunities for all 199 Appledore employees at other Babcock facilities, 140 of whom are already on short-term redeployment to its Devonport operations.

“Babcock very much regrets having to take this course of action and recognises the impact it will have on its dedicated and professional workforce.

“The company will now engage in a consultation period, working closely with its employees and their trade union representatives during this difficult time.”

In 2017/18 Appledore generated around £24 million of the group’s total underlying revenue of £5.4 billion.

The GMB union reacted with anger to the news, saying it was “devastating” for the workforce.

The union said 200 workers were set to lose their jobs when the yard closes, adding that the Government had offered a financial package to keep it open.

Jake McLean, the GMB’s official at Appledore, said: “This news is a devastating blow to the workforce and the local community.

“We want answers from the Government and Babcock about the package that was offered to save the yard.”

The yard is the last survivor of a centuries-old tradition of shipbuilding on the north Devon estuary where the Rivers Taw and Torridge meet the Bristol Channel.

Sailors from the village are said to have been among those who fought the Spanish Armada in 1588.

The yard dates back to 1855, remaining in family ownership for many years, specialising in tug-boats and fishing trawlers, and making a significant contribution to Britain’s war effort from 1939 to 1945.