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Beardmore (Clyde)

William Beardmore and Company

Glassgow, UK

William Beardmore and Company was a Scottish engineering and shipbuilding conglomerate based in Glasgow and the surrounding Clydeside area. It was active from 1886 to the mid-1930s and at its peak employed about 40,000 people. It was founded and owned by William Beardmore, later Lord Invernairn, after whom the Beardmore Glacier was named.

The Parkhead Forge, in the east end of Glasgow, would become the core of the company. It was established by Reoch Brothers & Co in 1837 and was later acquired by Robert Napier in 1841 to make forgings and iron plates for his new shipyard in Govan. Napier was given the contract to build HMS Black Prince, sister ship to the Royal Navy's first true ironclad warship, HMS Warrior. Parkead was contracted to make the armour for her, but failed, so the manager, William Rigby called in William Beardmore Snr, who at the time was superintendent of the General Steam Navigation Company in Deptford, to help. Beardmore became a partner in the business and, moving to Glasgow was joined by his brother Isaac and son, William Jr. On the premature death of William Snr, Isaac retired and William Jnr became sole partner. He founded William Beardmore & Co in 1886. By 1896 the works covered an area of 25 acres (10 ha) and was the largest steelworks in Scotland, specialising in the manufacture of steel forgings for the shipbuilding industry of the River Clyde, By this time they had begun the manufacture of steel armour plate and later diversified into the manufacture of heavy naval guns, such as the BL 9.2 inch gun Mk IX–X and BL 15 inch Mk I naval gun.

Beardmore took over the shipyard of Robert Napier in Govan, a logical diversification from the company's core steel forgings business. In 1900, Beardmore also began construction of what would become The Naval Construction Yard, at Dalmuir in west Clydebank; the largest and most advanced shipyard in the United Kingdom at the time. HMS Agamemnon was the yard's first order to complete, in 1906. Beardmore eventually sold the company's Govan shipyard to Harland and Wolff in 1912. Other notable warships produced by Beardmores at Dalmuir include the Dreadnoughts, HMS Conqueror (1911), HMS Benbow (1913) and HMS Ramillies (1917). In 1917 Beardmore completed the aircraft carrier HMS Argus, the first carrier to have a full-length flight deck. Beardmore expanded the activities at Dalmuir to include the manufacture of all sorts or arms and armaments, the site employing 13,000 people at its peak.

The post war recession hit the firm hard, and the shipyard was forced to close in 1930. Part of the site and some of the existing buildings later became incorporated into ROF Dalmuir, part was used by the General Post Office for their cable-laying ships.


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