John Harries senior [Shôn Harri] moved to Aberaeron from Aberarth in 1825, and took up a tenancy of land on the south side of the new harbour which had been built about 1807. He started building ships here in the 1830s
View of the site of the Harries family’s Dolphin shipyard from North side of Aberaeron harbour
Two other shipbuilders, Evan Jones and his nephew David, were also working in this same area. There was some interdependence between their three businesses.
In 1844, John senior handed over the shipyard to his two sons Henry and John. Their partnership of J & H Harries built 9 ships here between 1846 and1849.
In 1851 the partnership ended, and Henry moved to Llansantffraed where he built 13 ships, the last in 1864.
John junior continued to build ships here at Aberaeron; his last was the brigantine Oronsa in 1864.
Today the site of the yard is a triangle of grass to the right of the large white house in the picture. This was originally the Harries family home, Dolphin House.
Shipbuilding area at the mouth of the River Peris
Small ships had been built on the bank of the river Peris near the parish church for many years. However, when Henry Harries arrived here in 1851, the size of vessels constructed increased dramatically.
The largest of the 13 he built here, the square rigged “Majestic” completed in 1858, was of 248 tons and 111 feet in length. These large ships were launched as hulls, and towed to Aberaeron or Aberystwyth to be rigged and completed. It is difficult to imagine how such a small area was sufficient for the task, and how the launching was accomplished.
Shipbuilding area on River Peris looking upstream - Parish Church in background
Leri Bridge, Borth
Leri Bridge, Borth - Dovey estuary in background
In 1850-1851 Henry Harries travelled from Llansantffraed to Leri Bridge, Borth, north of Aberystwyth, to build the 124 ton “Island Maid”.
Unlike Aberaeron and Llansantffraed, there still appears to be a functioning shipyard here.
Sources of information:-
Harries family records
National censuses for Wales 1841-1901
Aberaeron: by W J Lewis - Cambrian Press Aberystwyth
Maritime Heritage - The ships and seamen of Southern Ceredigion by J Geraint Jenkins.
Aberaeron: The Community and Seafaring 1800-1900 by David Lewis Jones; Ceredigion, Vol. VI/2 1969
'The Growth and Decline of Cardiganshire Shipbuilding from 1740-1914 with special reference to Llansantffraid'. M. Phil. thesis of the late G. Ivor Thomas, former Vicar of Llansantffraed 1994.
Llanon website: www.llanon.org.uk