Shipbuilding on the
Upper Taunton

Historical Shipbuilding Site in Bridgewater

View of the 1800 shipyard at the Camp Titicut Reservation,
taken at the bend of the Taunton River looking upstream.
Located in the Titicut Conservation Area
approximately 1/4 mile downstream from Pratt's Bridge, now called World I Veteran's Memorial Bridge, on Vernon Street.


Shipbuilding in Bridgewater on the Upper Taunton

The site of the main shipyard is approximately 1/4 mile downstream from Pratt's Bridge, now called World I Veteran's Memorial Bridge, on Vernon Street. It is located at the river bend on the Titicut Site campground. In early 1800 a ship called the "Two Brothers" was built there by Deacon Holmes of Kingston. (Weston-1906)

The shipyard was probably built during the early 1790's by landowner William Pratt, who owned much land in the area. On May 27, 1801 Joseph Holmes of Kingston commenced building vessels there for five years, before moving back to Jones River Landing at Kingston in 1806. His yard was located at Titicut because of the abundance of good white oak, the quality of which was highly rated for strength and durability. Following is a list of ships he built at Titicut:

  • Brig Two Pollies 250 T 1801 Dighton England
  • Brig Algol 250 T 1802 Dighton England
  • Brig Lucy 1803 Dighton Charleston, So. Carolina-then to Liverpool
  • Schooner Alexander 1804 Plymouth Portugal
  • Brig Trident 130 T 1805 Plymouth Portugal

Ships of this size must have launched in early spring when the water level was at its highest. Large vessels had a clear run to Dighton, with only two bridges to interfere. Center planks were removed to allow space pass through. In Dighton the "Two Pollies", the "Algol", and the "Lucy" received their masts and rigging. The schooner "Alexander" and the Brig "Trident" sailed for Kingston where finish work was completed. (Keith-ND)

In 1802 the Brig "Hancock and Adams" was built in Bridgewater, as confirmed by bills on her account. It is quite possible that a smaller shipyard upriver may have built this vessel. Elsewhere along the upper Taunton River records show that Benjamin Pratt (1719-1765) built a number of vessels of from 40 to 50 ton burthen to be used in his trading business between North Carolina and the West Indies, selling cedar lumber. His shipyard was located near Woodward Bridge on Summer Street, at the Bridgewater-Middleboro line. (Pratt Genealogy) There is also a notation from Mitchell's History of Bridgewater (OBHS), that credits a ship named "Bridgewater", that was built at a location near Childs Bridge.

About a mile south of the Titicut campground there are two small ravines scooped out of the east riverbank along the Taunton River for the making of small vessels. These are located, one on each side of Route 495, in North Middleboro. Before Joseph Holmes started building at Titicut, William Pratt built a number of vessels, one of which he captained for a few years. A dam was finally built near King's Bridge at the Taunton-Raynham line in 1823(?), which stopped large shipbuilding upstream.

Capt. Edwin W. Barstow was a shipmaster for over 30 years and a resident of Bridgewater, residing on Pleasant Street. He commanded the ship "Bridgewater" for several years, which was the largest class of vessels involved in foreign trade. (Doherty-1976)

References:

Keith, Roland M,. Once Built Ships in Bridgewater - The Bridgewater Independent

Weston, Thomas, 1906 History of Town of Middleboro, Massachusetts by Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston, MA

Genealogy of the Pratt Family Who Owned the Shipyard in Bridgewater nd The Pratt Family Genealogy (Page 164)

Doherty, Katherine M., Managing Editor and Book Committee Chairman. 1976 History Highlights-Bridgewater, MA,. A Commemorative Journal - By The Bridgewater Bicentennial Commission - page 256 William S. Sullwold, Publishing - Taunton, MA


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Thank you to one of our local historians,
Bill Taylor of Middleborough for photo and story.