The remarkable record of British shipbuilding
Although an international industry, British shipbuilding has remained highly localised: on the Clyde; the North East Coast; as well as large establishments at Belfast, Birkenhead and Barrow. At the turn of the twentieth century, the Clyde and North East Coast were responsible for three out of every five ships built in the world. During the thirty years leading up to the First World War, there was only the rarest of occasions when the North East did not build at least a third of the world's shipping.
Two major events reduced British—and North East—shipbuilding to a shadow of its former self. The severe depressions of the 1920s and 1930s crippled the industry and the strong postwar growth in foreign competition, especially from Japan, prevented Britain from regaining its dominance. The result was that the British share of world production fell lower and lower until in 1966 it dipped below 10%. The North East proportion dropped to roughly 3.4%.
(David Dougan, The History of North East Shipbuilding, 1968)