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An old map

Our history

Operating since 1871, Richard Irvin has had to anticipate and adapt to changes in economies, markets, technologies and customer needs. This is no different today, where understanding and developing our markets – and those of our customers – is fundamental to our success, together with an ever present focus on customer needs, service delivery and adding value.


  • 1871 Company registered in North Shields. (Fishing & Nautical Industries)
  • 1874 John Hannell Irvin (first son to Richard Irvin) born.
  • 1887 Aberdeen Branch (Richard Irvin & Sons) opened.
  • 1895 John Hannell Irvin becomes MD of Aberdeen branch. Subsequently joined by Richard Irvin Jr, George Driver Irvin and Thomas W Irvin. Shields Engineering Co established for the construction and repair of trawlers. Youngs Dock Company purchased and merged with Shields Engineering to form Shields Engineering & Dry Dock Company.
  • 1900 East Coast Herring Drifter Co. set up followed soon after by Shields Ice & Cold Storage Co. Ltd.
  • 1902 George D Irvin sent to South Africa to identify the potential of setting up a fishery company.
  • 1903 African Fishing & Trading Company established – with offices in Cape Town and North Shields.
  • 1909 Merger with Carl Ossion Johnson.
  • 1910 Irvin & Johnson established and still operating in South Africa today.
  • 1914-18 Building of three wooden steam drifters at Peterhead. Boatbuilding continued at this yard until the 1970’s and Richard Irvin still had a shipbuilding yard in Peterhead as recently as 2007.


  • 1916 Richard Irvin vessel “Southern Sky” was used by Ernest Shackleton on his first rescue attempt of the crew from the “Endurance” trapped on Elephant Island.
  • 1970’s Company invested in oil & gas related opportunities whilst continuing to build (& purchase) stern trawlers. Albert Quay premises refurbished and a new 35,000 sq ft workshop built to service the fishing fleet. 30,000 sq ft fabrication workshop built at Altens, to support oil-related investments.
  • 1979 Liquidation of trawler stock and sale of fabrication facility.
  • 1980’s Diversified away from fishing but continued to support the Marine Safety market. Build up of the General Industries division, merging & consolidating various activities.
  • 1997 Withdrawal from the UK fishing industry.
  • 2007 Bought Aberdeen Radiators (aka Universal Heat Transfer) enabling a move into onshore and offshore markets.
  • 2008 Operating from a new HQ in Altens, Aberdeen, with satellite offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness & Elgin.
  • 2010 Purchase of A & R Hepburn Ltd, Edinburgh.
  • 2011 Vertech Irvin launched as part of the Richard Irvin Group. Regener8 launched – joint venture with Morrison Construction.
  • 2014 Richard Irvin Energy Solutions launched.

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