from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lithgows Limited was a shipbuilding company with numerous shipyards in Port Glasgow and Greenock . It existed from 1870 to 1993.


Founding years

The company was founded in 1870 as Russell & Co. and was the result of a partnership between Joseph Russell and William Todd Lithgow and Anderson Rodger. The company's shipbuilding began at the Bay Yard shipyard in Port Glasgow, leased from Cunliffe & Dunlop . One of the shipyard's most famous ships was built here as early as 1878, the four-masted barque Falls of Clyde , which has been preserved to this day . In 1881 Russell & Co. acquired the Kingston shipyard with six slipways and began building larger sailing ships for bulk transport. In the years 1882 to 1892, the shipyard switched to standardized building drafts in order to speed up the construction time of the individual ships. In these ten years, 271 newbuildings left the shipyard, which from 1890 onwards had the highest number of deliveries worldwide.

Splitting up and First World War

In 1891 Joseph Russell withdrew from the company, whereupon the partnership between the three men was dissolved. Anderson Rodger continued the Bay shipyard under his own name and Lithgow took over the Kingston and Greenock shipyards, which continued to operate as Russell & Co. Economic relationships and entanglements continued even after the partnership was dissolved.

After Lithgow sold the Mid-Cartsdyke shipyard in 1900, he initially concentrated his business on the Kingston shipyard. The two Lithgow sons, James and Henry, now also joined the company. The focus of the building program in those years was on trampers, which brought the shipyard a solid profit. In addition, Russell built over a dozen liner carriers and a number of tankers for various shipping companies in the early years of the 20th century . After the death of William Lithgow on June 7, 1908, his sons continued to run the Kingston shipyard and began to take over adjacent shipyards.

During the First World War, the shipyards delivered ships with a total of 315,141 GRT of ship space, including only one warship, the patrol speedboat P 21 . In 1917 the shipyard took over the Glasgow ship engineering company David Rowan & Co. After the end of the war in 1918, Russell & Co. was converted into a corporation and then operated as Lithgows Limited .

Expansion, Great Depression and World War II

In 1919, Lithgows took over the shipyards Dunlop, Bremner & Co. and William Hamilton & Co. in Port Glasgow. In 1920 the steel manufacturer James Dunlop & Co. in Greenock followed and in 1923 the ship engine builder Rankin & Blackmore, also based in Greenock . By the early 1920s, the Lithgow brothers had acquired all of Port Glasgow's shipyards from Kingston to Bay. During this time, they built around 90 liner steamers and tramp ships as well as around a dozen tankers for shipping companies from all over the world. James Lithgow was knighted as a baronet for his services in 1925 . In 1928 the Ayrshire Dockyard was incorporated in Irvine, South Ayrshire.

Succeeded in Lithgow brothers who Depression to survive the 1930s by the operating costs of Kingston- and Bay shipyards, by partial shirt-sleeved business practices held low and lower construction prices offered than their competitors. They managed to win a number of orders for the construction of tramp and general cargo ships , fruit and passenger ships, while a large number of other shipyards had to close their doors during these years.

It was Sir James Lithgow who approached the President of the Bank of England , Montagu Norman , in 1930 with the establishment of the National Shipbuilders Security (NSS) . The NSS had the goal of closing shipyards in order to reduce overcapacity in the shipbuilding industry. The central bank should ensure minimum prices for the building rights of closed shipyards. In the years 1931 to 1937 Lithgows had the majority in nine Clyde shipyards, five of which were directly assigned to the Lithgow brothers. The NSS used these to rationalize the shipyards in Port Glasgow. For the closure of the Inch Shipyard in 1933 over an agreed period of forty years, for example, they received a grant with which they acquired the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Company in Govan in 1935, despite public opposition , and saved it from closure.

During the Second World War, the Lithgow shipyards produced 97 ships with a volume of over 1.2 million tons. The lion's share was accounted for by 54 cargo ships for civilian clients and 33 "Empire" standard trampers , such as the Empire Baffin , of the state construction program. In addition, the shipyards supplied two standard fast cargo liners , two aircraft transporters, three coastal freighters, three cargo ferries and two other merchant ships.

post war period

In the post-war period, Lithgows returned to building tankers, liner and tramp freighters. Henry Lithgow died on May 28, 1948, and Sir James Lithgow died on February 23, 1952. After the death of the Lithgow brothers, the company was run by a three-person board of directors. Each shipyard had a managing director and two deputy managing directors. Between 1948 and 1960, 43 tankers were built alone. From 1959 a modernization phase began, in which the Kingston shipyard was first expanded and then the Glen and East shipyards were geared towards building sections for tankers and bulk carriers. In 1961 the Ferguson Brothers shipyard in Port Glasgow was taken over. From 1961 to 1971 another 38 large tankers, ore and bulk carriers were built at the Lithgow shipyard.

The Geddes Report

From 1968 the concentration recommendations of the Geddes Report were implemented and a merger with the Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company was decided to create a new corporate structure. One of the first measures was the Scott Lithgow Training Center, which was opened jointly with Scotts. On January 1, 1970, Scott Lithgow Limited was founded as an umbrella company, which was 60 percent owned by Scotts. Under the Scott-Lithgow umbrella, in addition to the two independent shipyards Scotts Shipbuilding Co. (1969) and Lithgows (1969), a number of subsidiaries were established:

  • Scotts Engineering Co (1969) Ltd
  • Scotts and Sons (Bowling) 1969 Ltd
  • Ferguson Bros (Port Glasgow) 1969 Ltd
  • Caledonia Joinery Co (1969) Ltd
  • Caledonia Fabrications (1969) Ltd

As Lithgows (1969)

The site of the former Glen Shipyard

The further operated shipbuilding division as Lithgow (1969) completed the construction of its Glen, East and Kingston shipyards for major shipyard in 1972. In the following years, there were four VLCC -Tanker and three Panamax - bulk carrier built. After Scott-Lithgow was incorporated into the British Shipbuilders Corporation on July 1, 1977 , a few smaller cargo ships were built before the shipyard ran out of orders. The Lithgow family then ran hotels and worked in the electronics industry, and now works in the aquaculture , shipping and engineering sectors .

From 1981, one began at Lithgow with Scott Lithgow (Offshore) Ltd as an operating company with the construction of oil drilling rigs , but this led to large losses. The company was then sold to Trafalgar House and Howard Doris on March 28, 1984 for £ 12 million . They gave up shipbuilding in 1987 and the shipyard was demolished until 1995. A total of around 1200 ships were built under the name Lithgow.

In 1996, Clydeport plc acquired the site for redevelopment. The following year UiE Scotland leased the Inchgreen dry dock to operate a ship repair business there. The Goliath called shipyard crane of Sir William Arrol & Company was then also demolished.

By 2006 the last traces of the shipyard had also disappeared.

Individual evidence

  1. Article in Construction News of April 16, 1998 (English)
  2. Demolition of the shipyard crane in 1997 (English)