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Sir Robert Norman Thompson    1878-1951
Robert Norman was born on 2 July 1878 at West House, Fulwell, of Robert Thompson and Georgiana Andrew. He married Helena Victoria Short on 6 June 1906. In 1909, they resided at Bedford House, Sunderland. Robert Norman Thompson became the Chair-man of Joseph L. Thompson & Sons, and was Knighted.
On the outbreak of war in 1914, Thompson's yard was selected by the Admiralty to develop a special kind of merchant ship, a standard type of cargo vessel of 5,200 tons called the "F-Type". A simple design of a bulk oil carrier called the "A-Type" was also built. Robert achieved the rank of Major during the war. High hopes for commercial advance after the war were not realized as a depression hit the country. Orders fluctuated up and down in the 1920's, and in the first half of the 1930's not a single order came in. The first new
  order came in 1935 with the Embassage, Ship number 572, for Hall Brothers. It was to a modern design drawn up by Sir R. Norman Thompson and his eldest son, R. Cyril with a skeleton staff during the dead years of the long depression. From then on, business picked up, and was very good for nearly 40 years.
The Silverlaurel, built by Jos. L. Thompson in 1938.
War came again in 1939 and the shipyards, long neglected in peace-time, were once more a vital industry. The designers at J. L. Thompsons evolved a new merchant ship of 10,000 tons capacity that cruised at 11 knots with 2,500 ihp, named the Dorington Court. This ship became the model for the immortal Liberty Ship of World War II fame. The Empire Liberty, launched at the North Sands as Ship No. 611 in 1941 was the forerunner of 2,710 Liberty Ships built on both sides of the Atlantic. Sir R. Norman Thompson was Chairman of the Wear Shipbuilders Association 1929 - 1931, and also 1939 - 1942. In 1946, Thompson's took over the neighboring business of John Crown & Sons Ltd. Sir R. Norman Thompson died 2 October 1951, at age 73.
Helena Victoria Short                   1883-1952
Helena Victoria was born on 22 July 1883, one of thirteen children of John Young Short, shipbuilder, and Mary Ada Smart. Helena married R. Norman Thompson on 6 June 1906. She died 4 March 1952 at age 68.
They had the following children:
  Robert Cyril Born 31 May 1907   Bishopwearmouth Married Doreen Hermine Allan
John Victor Born 10 Jul 1909   Bishopwearmouth Married Mary Theresa Nattrass
Mary Joyce Born 25 Sep 1910   Bishopwearmouth Married Dr. Robert Dennis Burn

Birth of Parents
Robert Norman Thompson b: 2 Jul 1878   c: 22 Jan 1879    Monkwearmouth Venerable Bede Parish
son of Robert and Georgiana Thompson of West House, shipbuilder
1878 3Q Sunderland 10a 683
Helena Victoria Short b: 22 Jul 1883  c: 8 Jul 1888   Grange Church       1883 3Q Sunderland 10a 612
daughter of John Young Short and Mary Ada Smart, The Elms East

6 Jun 1906
Robert Norman Thompson
Helena Victoria Short (22)
Christ Church, Bishopwearmouth       1906 2Q Sunderland 10a 1196
Bachelor, Shipbuilder, 20 Azalea Terrace, Father: Robert Thompson, Shipbuilder
Spinster, Ashbrook Hall, Father: John Young Short, (Deceased)
after Banns, Wit: Stanley M. Thompson, Mary Ada Short

The Times, Friday, Jun 8, 1906   MARRIAGES
  THOMPSON - SHORT - On the 6th June, at Christ Church, by the Rev, G. C. Hopkinson, M.A., Robert Norman, second son of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Thompson, of Over Dinsdale Hall, Darlington, to Helena Victoria, fourth daughter of the late John Y. Short and Mrs. Short, of Ashbrooke Hall, Sunderland.

Robert Cyril Thompson b: 31 May 1907 c: 2 Jul 1907                     Christ Church, Bishopwearmouth
son of Robert Norman and Helena Victoria Thompson, Belford House, Shipbuilder
1907 3Q Sunderland 10a 643
John Victor Thompson b: 10 Jul 1909 c: 26 Aug 1909                     Christ Church, Bishopwearmouth
son of Robert Norman and Helena Victoria Thompson, Belford House, Shipbuilder
1909 3Q Sunderland 10a 670
Mary Joyce Thompson b: 25 Sept 1910 c: 28 Nov 1910                     Christ Church, Bishopwearmouth
daughter of Robert Norman and Helena Victoria Thompson, Belford House, Shipbuilder
1910 4Q Sunderland 10a 634

 10 July 1909      BIRTH
- At Belford House, Sunderland, on the 10th inst. to Mr. and Mrs. R. Norman Thompson, a son.

 25 September 1910      BIRTH
- On the 25th inst. to Mr. and Mrs. R. Norman Thompson, a daughter.

Sir Robert Norman Thompson 2 Oct 1951, Age 73,  at Belford House       1951 4Q Sunderland 10a 919
Burial 5 Oct 1951, Mere Knolls Cemetery

The Times, Wednesday, Oct 3, 1951          OBITUARY
Sir Robert Thompson

Sir Robert Norman Thompson, chairman of Joseph L. Thompson and Sons, Limited, the Sunderland Shipbuilders, and a great grandson of the founder of the firm, died at his home in Sunderland, yesterday, aged 73. He was a former chairman of the Wear Shipbuilders' Association, a liveryman of the Company of Shipwrights, and a former member of the committee of Lloyd's Register of Shipping. His other activities included at one time the chairmanship of the Silver Line, Limited, of London, and directorships in firms connected with shipbuilding, including that of Sir James Laing and Sons, Limited. He was knighted in 1946. In 1906 he married Helena Victoria, daughter of Mr J. Y. Short, of Sunderland. He is survived by his wife, two sons, and one daughter.

Summary of the Will of Sir Robert Norman Thompson
of Belford House, Sunderland, County Durham,
1878 - 1951       Dated 15 September 1950
(His estate totaled £ 73,819 10s 3d)
Trustees and Executors:Sons Robert Cyril, and John Victor, and,
Richard Henry Middleton, Solicitor, of 52 John Street, Sunderland
Wife Helena Victoria £ 2,000, plus all household furnishings, and the use of Belford
House, and the income from my Trust Fund for life.
Daughter: Mary Joyce Burn £ 15,000 Trust Fund, established upon the death of my wife.
Sons Robert Cyril and John Victor The residual Trust Fund, in equal shares, after the death of my wife.
Conrad Hahn £ 300 (If still in my service, or the service of J.L. Thompson & Sons Ltd.)

Helena Victoria (Short) Thompson 4 Mar 1952, Age 68,  at Belford House, Belford Terrace West
Burial 7 Mar 1952, Mere Knolls Cemetery       1952 1Q Sunderland 10a 1113

The Times, Thursday, Mar 6, 1952             OBITUARY
Lady Thompson, widow of Major Sir Robert Norman Thompson, died at her home at Sunderland on Tuesday. She was Helena Victoria, daughter of Mr. J. Y. Short, of Sunderland, and her marriage took place in 1906. Her husband died last year.



The pictures of Sir R. Norman Thompson, and the Silverlaurel are from the book
"WHERE SHIPS ARE BORN, SUNDERLAND 1346-1946, A History of Shipbuilding on the River Wear" by J. W. Smith and T. S. Holden.
Published by Thomas Reed and Company Limited, Sunderland   1946