Ancestor travels from South Africa to research family’s Yarmouth shipyard roots

Mick and Justin Crabtree, from South Africa, tracing their family roots in Great Yarmouth.

Mick and Justin Crabtree, from South Africa, tracing their family roots in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Archant

Two generations of the famous Crabtree shipbuilding family returned to the docks today to learn about their ancestors.

Researching their family line from South Africa, Norwich-born Justin and dad Mick uncovered their links to the Great Yarmouth engineers.

Now living in Llantwit Major, 79-year-old Mick said the family had been 'a mystery' to him until now.

'It is quite amazing when you think all of this was started by my father and grandfather,' he said on a tour of Richards Dry Docks.

'I know so little about my family, which is the reason I am here; I wanted to know a little more about them.'

An engineer by trade himself, Mick said his parents had originally met in Yarmouth, but he knows little more than that.

'I have an engineer's interest in how things have developed in the trade.' he added.

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'The whole family is a mystery, ad the family tree stops at my father, who we know was a shipbuilder here.'

Crabtrees of Southtown closed in March 1970 after 87 years in business, employing hundreds an building more than 80 large vessels.

William Crabtree, originally of Swindon, had moved to Yarmouth by 1881 and soon the business was booming.