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The company could take on the largest contracts. As early as 1863, it had the capacity to build 25,000 tons of warships and 10,000 tons of mail steamers at the same time.
One of its first Admiralty contracts was for HMS Warrior. At the time it was the world's largest warship and the first iron-hulled armour-plated frigate.
The Canning Town works
This image is of the 'new' office buildings facing the road on the Essex side of the creek.
Although Orchard Place was still the company's address until 1909, its presence there was much reduced.
By the late 1860s the company only had a 2 hectare (five acre) area on the northern part of the site, where the original general offices were located.
The yard even built the first iron-hulled warship for the Prussian navy, the König Wilhelm, in 1869. The vessel shown here is one of several torpedo boats constructed for the Rumanian Navy.
The ironworks also built the cruiser Alfonso de Alburquerque for the Portugese government in 1883.
An iron, wood-sheathed cruiser, Alfonso de Alburquerque was 63 m (205 ft) long and 10 m (33 ft) wide, with a depth of 5 m (16.6 ft) and a displacement of 1150 tons. Her maximum speed was 13.5 knots and she was armed with two 6-inch Armstrong guns and five 40-pounders.
Hills was one of the first business leaders to voluntarily introduce an eight-hour day for his workers. This was at a time when 10 and 12-hour shifts were common for industrial workers. Hills is shown here second from left in the front row.
From the moment Hills joined the company he fought to keep shipbuilding alive on the Thames. A peak in production was reached between the late 1880s and mid-1900s with ships built for the Royal Navy as well as foreign navies and merchant fleets.
Illustrated here is the launch of the Japanese warship Shikishima in November 1898. She became a training ship in 1923 and was scrapped in 1947. Her sister ship the Fuji was also built at the Thames Ironworks.