HARLAND & Wolff has hailed the first shipbuilding activity since 1856 at a Scottish yard it acquired in February 2021, after completing a barge at the historic site.

The yard at Methil was taken on by the shipbuilder, which is quoted on the Alternative Investment Market, following the collapse of Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab).

The barge, which has been made for waste management and recycling business Cory, will launch from Methil and be taken by sea to Cory’s lighterage site on the banks of the River Thames.

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Harland & Wolff said the contract with Cory had “enabled the resurgence of shipbuilding skills” at its Methil site for the first time since the ship Santiago was completed at the yard in 1856.

It noted the Methil yard’s involvement in more recent decades in oil and gas work, and its presence in the renewables sector since 2007.

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More than 170 people are now employed at the Methil yard, including apprentices working on-site and at college, a spokesman for Harland & Wolff noted.

The shipbuilder said: “This project has kept 115 people in active work at the Methil facility and enabled further employment.”

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The barge completed at the Methil yard will join Cory’s existing fleet of tugs and barges, which are used to transport recyclable and non-recyclable waste via a series of river-based transfer stations across London.

The waste management and recycling business is one of the largest commercial operators on the Thames. Its use of the river to transport waste removes around 100,000 truck journeys from London’s roads each year, Harland & Wolff noted.

Cory placed an initial order of 11 barges with Harland & Wolff on June 1, 2022, worth £8.5 million. Subsequently, Cory entered into a second contract for a further 12 barges, taking the contract total to £18.1m.

Matt Smith, general manager of Harland & Wolff (Methil), said: “We were delighted to welcome the Cory barge fabrication project into the Methil yard. Whilst many of the shipbuilding skills that are required still exist in the yard, this is the first time since 1856 that we have actually seen shipbuilding occur in this yard.

"The completion of the first barge is a milestone in this yard’s new journey and demonstrates the strength and versatility of skill that exists in the Methil workforce.”

Fran Comerford-Cole, director of logistics at Cory, said: “Cory has been operating on the river for well over 200 years, and we are proud that we are able to continue our support for the UK maritime sector through this contract with Harland & Wolff.

"I hope that this marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter at the Methil shipyard, and we look forward to welcoming the new barge to our fleet.”