Harland & Wolff has announced the completion of the first barge at its yard in Methil, Fife, since 1856.

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. It 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. Cory is one of the largest commercial operators on the Thames, and its use of the river to transport waste removes around 100,000 truck journeys from London’s roads each year.

This project has kept 115 people in active work at the Methil facility and enabled further employment, bringing the workforce up to around 150 people. Around 15 year one and year two apprentices have been able to work on this project, providing them with essential shipbuilding experience at this crucial early stage of their careers.

Cory placed an initial order of 11 barges with Harland & Wolff on 1st June 2022 worth £8.5 million. Subsequently, Cory entered into a second contract for a further 12 barges, taking the contract total to £18.1 million. The barges will play a vital role in Cory’s growth plans. The company reached financial close on its Riverside 2 Energy from Waste (EfW) facility at the end of 2022, which will divert c.650,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste from landfill. A bolstered fleet of tugs and barges will be essential to deliver the feedstock for the new facility.

The contract with Cory has enabled the resurgence of shipbuilding skills at Harland & Wolff’s Methil site since the Santiago was completed in 1856. In Belfast, the contract has allowed Harland & Wolff’s iconic shipyard to demonstrate its world-class shipbuilding skills, recommission its vast fabrication halls and pass these crucial skills and techniques on to the next generation of shipyard workers, ahead of its ramp up following the execution of the manufacture subcontract for the  three vessel Fleet Solid Support (FSS) Programme.

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.”

Matt Smith, General Manager of Harland & Wolff (Methil) commented following the delivery:

“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.”