High class ships
In 1872, the firm began making its own marine engines and boilers, a new works for this purpose being erected to the North of the Shipyard. These works were extended in 1879 by the acquisition of neighbouring premises. Some time afterwards, the boiler works formerly attached to the engine works were removed to new premises further north and this occasioned an increase of nearly double its size for the machine shops and erecting shop of the engine works. This extension, together with two new building berths built to the north of the existing shipyard in the late 1880's, meant that Neptune Works now covered some 18.25 acres, with a river frontage of about 1,100 feet.
In 1899 when it was decided to make the firm a limited company in the style of 'Wigham Richardson & Company Ltd' an extensive reputation had been gained for the construction of high class ships and particularly for those with specialist duties.
Reverting in time to the year 1852, a Mr. Charles Mitchell, who had been a ship designer with Mr. Coutts, also started his own shipbuilding business at Walker. In 1854 he married the oldest daughter of Mr. William Swan of Walker, an event of some importance to this story, since one result of the marriage was that two brothers of the bride, Henry Frederick and Charles Sheridan Swan, eventually joined the Mitchell undertaking. The business prospered to the extent that Mitchell was soon looking for additional space and, to this end, in 1871, acquired a small site at St. Peter's (further up-river towards Newcastle) where two of his associates began building ships under the style of Coulson, Cooke & Company. In 1873 this firm moved to a larger and more suitable site, some 6.5 acres in area, at the river-front of Wallsend and bordering the shipyard of Shlesinger, Davis & Company which had been opened in Wallsend Parish in 1863.