Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Burntisland Shipbuilding Co

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1945. The Empire Macalpine - Sectional View.
1945. Merchant Aircraft Carrier Empire Macalpine.
1953. "Flowergate".
1954.
1959. Cargo Liner "Shaftesbury" for the Alexander Shipping Co.
1959. Cargo Liner Huntsfield" for the Power Steamship Co.
1960. "Tewkesbury".

Burntisland West Dock, Fife, home of Burntisland Shipbuilding Co.

  • 1918 Yard opened as an emergency shipyard during World War 1.
  • The yard was managed by the Ayre Brothers, Amos and Wilfrid. They built a four berth yard and this enabled them to build ships up to 450 feet in length. This hi-tech shipbuilding "factory" also included an extensive railway system to carry steel to the various parts of the yard.
  • 1918 The first three ships to be built were standard "C" types, the yard then went on to build five-hold three-island tramps and twenty four-hold engines-amidship colliers. the yard also built "Arch-deck" colliers.
  • 1920s The yard built a number of large tramps and from 1921 to 1929 the yard made 12 such vessels. The orders for colliers and coasters were constant during the interwar years and this managed to keep the yard solvent.
  • In 1929 the "Burntisland Economy" ship design made its debut, trading on its reputation for effective fuel economy. The yard made a number of design innovations to the basic "Burntisland Economy" design.
  • 1930s The yard made a number of "flat-iron" colliers and coasters. In the mid 30s the demand for "Burntisland Economies" continued, and over a dozen of these were completed from 1935 to 1939.
  • WWII The yard made three "Loch" class frigates and sixty merchant hulls, tramps and colliers. In addition a number of orders were received from he Government for tramps, merchant aircraft carriers and a coaster. The yard was also making ships for private customers.
  • 1940s The Ayre Brothers continued in control of the yard in post-war years.
  • From 1945 to 1965 the Burntisland Yard consolidated its reputation for high quality tramps and cargo-liners by making over 50 vessels.
  • 1950s The Scottish and Mercantile Investment Co became the majority shareholder in the yard.
  • 1961 Shipbuilders. 1,000 employees.
  • 1963 Sir Wilfrid resigned in 1963 after 45 years in charge.
  • 1960s The yard made a number of motor-coasters for Metcalf Motor Coasters along with petroleum gas carriers, and tankers.
  • 1968 The Burntisland Yard ran into difficulties and went into receivership. The yard equipment was then sold to Robb-Caledon of Leith and Dundee.

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Sources of information