This entry starts with the photo above, from the wonderful Boston Public Library Flickr photo group. It was this treasure trove that first revealed the existence of the Lawley shipbuilding business to me. And of course, as usual, one thing leads to another, and the story grows. I began with the intention of discussing the Lawley yard in Dorchester - a classic example of the kind of forgotten enterprise I enjoy sharing with you on this site . Once I got digging, it quickly became obvious that there was more to tell.
Remember that I said this story started with a yacht building yard in Dorchester. At the time, I didn't realize I was coming to the story late. George Lawley came from a shipbuilding family in London, and when he immigrated to the United States went to work for the famous Donald McKay in East Boston. Just after the end of the Civil War, Lawley and a partner opened a shipyard in Scituate, specializing in yachts. Success brought them back to Boston, where they set up shop in South Boston. On a site near City point, shown above, they built the winners of the 1885 and 1886 America's Cup, Puritan and Mayflower. One more move took them out of South Boston, and down to Neponset, at Port Norfolk. Over time, four generations of Lawleys would build boats in Boston.
Satellite photo of the mouth of the Neponset river. Arrow points to former location of Lawley's shipyard. Also note above and to the left of the arrow at the mouth of the river, the gas tank that now sits along the Southeast expressway.
Beyond their work with yachts, Lawley & Sons also produced boats for the US Navy during both world wars. The built sub chasers, and, in WW II, landing craft. tank barges and tugs. Their last listed boat was a landing craft, January 3, 1945, the year the company went out of business.
Some great photos of Lawley yachts here.
George Lawley & Sons Wikipedia page.
A list of boats produced by Lawley & Sons here with their history.