Joseph Isherwood

Born: Joseph William Isherwood was born on23rd June 1870 at Hartlepool. He was the son of John Isherwood from Bolton and Mary Ellen Dobinson of Stockton. John Isherwood was a grocer in Hartlepool.

Educated: He attended a school near St. Hilda’s church in Hartlepool. At the age of fifteen he was taken in to the drawing office of Edward Withy and Company, the Hartlepool shipbuilders. He was given intensive training at the office and at night school.

Married: In 1892 Joseph Isherwood married Annie Fleetham, daughter of Matthew Fleetham.

Family: Joseph and Annie had two sons, Arnold and William and three daughters, Alberta, Beatrice and Marie.

Home: The Isherwoods were living in the Throston district of Hartlepool when their infant daughter Beatrice died in 1896.  Joseph moved to London not long afterwards, but by 1907 he was living in Roman Road, Middlesbrough. His daughter Alberta died in 1909 and was buried in the churchyard at St. Mary’s Acklam. The Isherwoods had a house in Chislehurst, Kent and a London house in Park Lane.

Known for: In 1896 Joseph Isherwood became a surveyor for Lloyd’s Register of Shipping. As a result of his detailed examinations of ships he came up with a better way of constructing large vessels. In 1906 Joseph Isherwood patented what is known as the “Isherwood System”. This is a strong but cheap kind of construction for ships’ hulls, using longitudinal girders with fewer transverse ribs. The first ship built on these lines was the 4,000 ton S.S. “Paul Paix” built at Robert Craggs’ shipyard in Middlesbrough. By the time of his death, 2,500 ships had been built using his system. In 1933 he developed the “arcform” ship design. The first ship to use this design was the S.S.”Arcwear” of 7,000 tons. Joseph Isherwood was created a baronet in 1921 as a result of his contributions to ship design.

Died: Sir Joseph Isherwood died on 24th October 1937 at his London home. He was buried in St. Mary’s Churchyard, Acklam where two of his children were buried.

Further Information:  Dictionary of National Biography

“Ships and Shipbuilders: Pioneers of Design and Construction” Fred Walker (2010)