The rise of Port Glasgow as an important shipbuilding area has its roots in the eighteenth century. By the 1780's John Wood's yard was in operation in Port Glasgow. As the area became a flourishing shipbuilding area many other builders and associated industries came to the area such Ropeworks & canvas manufacturers. The initial idea for the building of the Comet came from Henry Bell. In 1811 he ordered a vessel from Messrs John Wood and Sons of Port Glasgow. The keel was laid in October of that year. The location of John Wood's shipyard was in Shore Street, Port Glasgow on the site of what later became the yard of Robert Duncan & Co. The Comet was launched on 24th July 1812. It was the first steam powered vessel in Europe to carry fare paying passengers. John Wood's yard in Port Glasgow followed their success with the 'Comet' by producing a notable list of steam vessels in later years.

The period 1875 - 1914 saw the fullest development of the shipbuilding industry. Ferguson Brothers at Port Glasgow's Newark Yard specialised in ferries, coaster and specialist vessels. Another specialist was Murdoch & Murray who operated from their yard at Brown Street in Port Glasgow.Henry Murray commenced shipbuilding in Port Glasgow , Scotland, in 1866 or 1867 at the Kingston Yard , later known as the Brown Street shipyard. Ships were built there until vessel no.114 and then at Sandpoint, Dumbarton, Scotland, until Murray went out of business in 1883. 

Henry's original business was known as Henry Murray & Co from 1880. He was a partner in two other firms, Murdoch & Murray at the Glen Yard, Port Glasgow in 1874 and Murray Brothers , in Dumbarton in 1883. Murray Brothers only built sixteen small ships and closed down in 1890, their goodwill being taken over by Murdoch & Murray . 

Murdoch & Murray was reformed as the Port Glasgow Shipbuilding Co in 1912 and remained in business until ship no.304 in 1923. The company was eventually taken over by Lithgows Ltd , shipbuilders and repairers, Port Glasgow
During the Amazonian rubber boom before the First World War they built small steamers for the rubber traders. The rise of the Russell, Rodger & Lithgow partnership and the subsequent emergence of Lithgow's was one of the most notable changes in this period. It was to become the largest privately owned shipyard in the world. Throughout the period before the First World War Lithgow's -yards were frequently the top Clyde yard producing more tonnage than any other. During the period 1912 - 1914 the yard's tonnage was some 232,000 tons,

Yards And Dates Of Ownership

1: Ladyburn

1853 - 1855 Bourne
1858 - 1859 Taylorson
1864 - 1866 Clyde & co
1865 - 1867 Marine Investment
1867 - 1868 Russell
ca. 1882 Watson

2: Inch Yard

1853 - 1869 Lawrence Hill
1871 - 1885 Carliffe & Dunlop
1882 - 1911 DJ Dunlop
1911 - 1918 Dunlop Bremner & Co
1918 - 1969 Lithgow

3: Kingston

1866 - 1882 Henry Murray & Co
1882 - 1918 Russell
1918 - 1969 Lithgow
1969....Scott Lithgow

4: Glen Yard

1786 - 1815 Steele & Carswell
1839.... John Reid & Co
1863 - ca.1865 J Reid
1869 - 1871 McCulloch & Patterson
1890 J Reid
1890 - 1963 W Hamilton
Rodger & Lithgow
1892 - 1912 Rodger
1912 - 1918 Russell
1918 - 1935 Lithgow

5: Brown Street Yard

1875 - 1912 Murdoch & Murray
1912 - 1923 Port Glasgow Co

6: East Yard

ca. 1810 - 1853 J Wood (west)
1846 -1863 J Reid (east)
1863 - 1915 R Duncan
1915 - 1972 Lithgow

7: Bay Yard

1840 - 1844 Peter Murchie
1856 - 1862 Thomas Wishart
1863 - 1865 Kirkpatric & McIntyre
1872 - 1874 McFadyen
1874 - 1892 Russell

8: Newark Yard

1780 Thomas Mcgill
1830 - 1840 McDonald Brothers
1873 - 1902 W. Hamilton
1903 1974 Ferguson Brothers

9: Castle Yard

1817 onwards Messrs Alexander & James Martin
1860 - 1885 Blackwood & Gordon
1900 - 1928 Clyde Shipbuilding co
1930 - 1949 J Lamoont

10: Kelburn
1930's Smith & Houston

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