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Robert McAlpine

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Sir Robert McAlpine (1847-1934) of R. McAlpine and Sons

Sir Robert McAlpine (1847-1934), nicknamed "Concrete Bob", founded the British construction firm now known as Sir Robert McAlpine.

1847 February 13th. Born in Newarthill, North Lanarkshire, Scotland

Left school at the age of 10 to work in a coal mine, but became an apprentice bricklayer.

He was involved in the building of roads, public buildings and other works, some of the tunnelling for the Glasgow Subway and the Singer Sewing Machine factory in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire. Overseas, in 1918 McAlpine was contracted to expand the harbour in Heraklion, Crete. The power station built for the purpose was later used to provide the town's electricity.

McAlpine built up the large building and civil engineering firm that bears his name; it continues to exist today. He was also a pioneer in the use of concrete and labour-saving machinery. See also Glenfinnan Viaduct.

He was made a baronet in 1918.

1934 November 3rd. Died


1934 Obituary [1]

BY the death of Sir Robert McAlpine, the head of the Engineering and contracting firm of Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons, we have lost a public works contractor of outstanding ability and world renown.

Sir Robert, who had taken an active interest in the business of his firm until the last few months, died on Saturday, November 3rd, at his home at Oxshott, Surrey, at the ago of eighty-seven.

He was born at Newarthill, in Lanarkshire, and from humble beginnings became a building contractor at the age of twenty. By the time he was twenty-seven he had built, and owned, practically the whole of Burnbank, near Hamilton. Ho early adopted the ferro-concrete system of tunnelling and building, and in the course of his railway and bridge work he himself made many noteworthy additions to technique. One of his first Scottish contracts was for the construction of the Lanark and Ayr railway; it was followed by much similar work.

Mention must be made of the Singer works at Yokor, and the great housing estate near to those works, in which Sir Robert took a personal interest. Other largo factories are those built; for British Dyestuffs, Ltd., at Huddersfield, the Spondon works of British Celanese, Ltd., and the Mechanical Transport Department at Slough. The Wembley Exhibition was one of Sir Robert's outstanding contracts, as was also that for Taroradi harbour and railway terminus in Africa, and the construction of Dorchester House.

In 1918 Sir Robert was created a Baronet in recognition of his national services before and during the war period.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1934/11/09