John Watt and Sons was founded by John Watt, the grandfather of the existing managing director and his two sons in 1940. They built a large range of clinker lifeboats and motor boats in Gardenstown before moving into building larger carvel boats and in 1946 built the “Seafield” a 52ft-fishing vessel.
The partnership acquired the yard of Stephen’s of Banff in 1955 and after a transitional year of building both large and small boats concentrated on building 55/65′ fishing vessels. During the boom years in the 50/60’s the yard consistently turned out eight boats per year but were restricted to this size of vessel due to depth restrictions in Banff Harbour.
In 1966 the partnership then bought the building yard and the engineering facilities of Macduff Engineering Co on the retirement of the owner Mr Paterson. This enabled the yard to build vessels up to 80′ in timber. The name of the yard was changed to Macduff Boatbuilding & Engineering Co.
The company incorporated in 1985 changing its name to Macduff Shipyards Limited. Due to increasing demand for steel vessels the directors decided to build a building shed for steel ships.
In 1987 the first steel boat was turned out, the Heather Sprig for John Smith & Partners, Buckie.
The yard is no longer family owned but is owned by the four directors who all work in the yard and who between themselves have 130 years experience in shipbuilding and repair, and over the last two decades the yard has built a large volume of steel and wooden hulled vessels.
In recent years the yard has diversified into other types of vessels from work boats, pilot boats and survey craft but also consolidating the position in the fishing vessels with a work shop in Fraserburgh to service vessels up to 60m.