With Amalgamated Industrials but despite that setback continued building throughout. In 1955 Lithgows obtained shares and full control was affected by them in 1961. In 1969 Ferguson Brothers became part of the Scott-Lithgow Group and in 1977 a member company of British Shipbuilders. The Corporation separated them from the Port Glasgow group in 1981 and with Ailsa of Troon they set up a joint management company named Ferguson-Ailsa to the great annoyance of many Troon citizens who argued that on grounds of alphabetic priority or yard seniority the names should have been the other way round!
Over 300 ships have come from Newark including about 20 tugs for the Clyde Shipping Company and associated companies, ferries for the Clyde Navigation Trust and in 1929 the SS Discovery II for the Falkland Isles. This latter ship, run as a scientific and exploration vessel, was singularly successful and happy and succeeded the RRS Discovery built by the Dundee Shipbuilders Company in 1901 which has been fully restored by the Maritime Trust in London. The present Discovery in the fleet of the Natural Environmental Research Council was built by Hall, Russell of Aberdeen keeping alive the tradition of building north of the border.
After 27 years of moderately successful operation they became insolvent in 1887 and temporarily closed after arranging with Murdoch and Murray to complete their outstanding contracts. The problems were resolved in 1889 and the company restarted with four partners, Messrs Blackwood, McGeoch, Wallace and Purvis. The latter gentleman had served in William Froude's testing tank and had been involved in the setting up of Denny's tank at Dumbarton. The position of the company had been precarious throughout but this new arrangement carried on for 11 years until further difficulties brought about ultimate closure in 1900.
Blackwood and Gordon left a record of over 200 ships built including SS Strathclyde for Burrell in 1871 and the engines for SS Strathleven the first vessel built for the carriage of frozen meat from Australia using Bell-Coleman refrigeration. In 1870 the Duke of Hamilton took delivery of the steam yacht Thistle. His Grace, a man of immense power and a British Viceroy, must have been satisfied as he returned to the reconstituted yard for the paddle steamer Lady Mary in 1868 and another Thistle in 1882.
In 1900 the Clyde S. & E. Co Ltd, with a registered capital of £30,000, took over the yard which was modernised and they then built over 100 ships in the following quarter century. The Clyde Company built several US and Canadian Great Lakers, a market that has largely been the province of the Great Lakes and the Clyde shipyards alone. In 1919 they were taken over by Amalgamated Industrials Ltd it being fashionable then to set up diversified groups but this company crashed in 1927 and the Castle Yard ultimately was sold to James Lamont.
James Lamont & Co became established at East India Harbour, Greenock, in 1870 a site they have continuously used for ship-repairing operation They purchased the Castle Yard in 1929 but did not-commence shipbuilding there until 1938, and again'-the yard reverted to repairs during the war becoming a full shipyard again once hostilities were well over. In 1979 the company announced that it was to give up shipbuilding and concentrate on repair work, which had been expanded by their 113 m dry-dock opened in 1966. Altogether over 70 ships have been built including for the Associated Humber Line, Darlington, Harrogate and Selby, for Glasgow City Council the sludge hoppers Dalmarnock and Garrocb Head and ten Caledonian-Midbrayne landing-craft type ferries.
In 1903 four brothers named Ferguson decided I leave Fleming & Ferguson of Paisley and to set up on their own at Newark Shipyard, Port Glasgow. The current contract number at Paisley when they left was 152 and for reasons not at all clear the Ferguson's. starting building in Port Glasgow with the next yard number. Hence both Ferguson Brothers and Fleming & Ferguson had ships No 153 building-simultaneously. Ferguson Bros also became associated
The Port Glasgow Yards
In 1853 the Inch Shipyard was taken over by one of the colourful men that are attracted to thriving industry. His name was Laurence Hill, born 1816 at Dalkeith and educated at schools in England and Scotland before going to Glasgow University. He twice visited America, an unusual trip to make in these days, before joining Professor Lewis Gordon the world’s first engineering professor-to design the Loch Katrine water supply system in 1845.
He also worked with Professor Rankine and lectured for three Years at the Andersonian College. The setting up of the shipyard was the fulfillment of an ambition which allowed him the satisfaction of production work coupled with the challenge of research. At the Inch Yard he worked on propeller design and other theoretical matters as well as building 76 ships in just 17 years. Around the yard were shallow water and narrow channels and according to his obituary in 1892-3 'Transactions' of the IESS 'he used curved ways in launching'. What is meant is not clear butt could indicate the use of cambering on the ways, a feature that is now common.
In 1869 or 1870 the Yard was taken over by D.J. Dunlop and J.L Cunliffe and in the subsequent 12 years they built 80 ships including SS Esbjerg for DFDS and the first tug Scot for the Caledonian Canal. In 1881 CunIffie retired and Dunlop continued with the business name amended to David J. Dunlop & Co. Alltogether over 100 ships were built prior to 1911 when Dunlop died. The name was felt to be valuable and a new company was formed with Donald Bremner as managing director.
During the War the yard was sold to Lithgows but, after the last Ship SS Baron Hogarth was built in 1926, the yard closed ultimately to be taken over by National Shipbuilders Security Ltd in 1933. Donald Bremner went on to join Hugh MacMillan and found the Blythswood Shipyard.
Another of the great river characters and the proprietor of a shipyard was Henry Murray. He was a completely different type from Laurence Hill, having been born in poor circumstances in Paisley in the year 1838. After serving his apprenticeship as a joiner and working for a time with Blackwood and Gordon he went into partnership with Hugh Paton and James Crawford and in 1867 they formed the shipyard of Henry Murray & Co at Kingston, Port Glasgow. They built in all about 100 ships all under 2,000 tons and had a thriving business which was sold out to Russell & Co in 1882. However, in 1875, Henry Murray separated and along with James Murdoch (1821-98) founded Murdoch & Murray at Brown Street, Port Glasgow.
The yard had steady production for the next 37 years apart from a short period of closure during the slump of 1895. Over 250 ships were built, all small, and with a particular emphasis on shallow draft vessels. Two well known products were the Clyde paddle steamer Queen Empress of 1912 and the Anchor Line tender Paladin built in 1913. After James Murdoch's death Murray ran the business till his retirement in 1909 and then Murdoch and Murray became a limited company continuing as such till 1912 when it was reconstituted as the Port Glasgow Shipbuilding Co Ltd. In 1918 John Slater Ltd, a London group, took over the yard along with neighboring Ferguson Brothers but did not sustain activity beyond 1923 when work ran out. In 1927 an unusual happening took place, the derelict industrial land was cleared and transformed back to a green field site for recreation!
Henry Murray was very much a small ship man and was associated with Henry Murray & Co of the Sandpoint Yard which operated in Dumbarton from 1881-4 and Murray Brothers who operated the nearby Phoenix Park Yard from 1883-91. The former company built a complete yard and among the ten ships built was the early twin-screw steamer Ricbmond Hill for the Twin Screw Line
.Another interesting group of companies has operated for over 100 years on the Castle Street site at Port Glasgow. The yard was developed by Blackwood & Gordon in 1860 after their move from Paisley-a decision taken in order to build larger ships.
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