Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,484 pages of information and 245,913 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Barclay, Curle and Co

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1912. Whiteinch.
1935. Five-cylinder opposed piston engine for the Dilwara.
April 1952. Doxford Oil Engines.
1953. "Windsor".
1959. the "Wimbledon".

Barclay Curle, shipbuilders, of Elderslie Dockyard, Whiteinch, Glasgow, Scotland.

1818 The company was founded by John Barclay at Whiteinch, Glasgow, Scotland.

1845 John's son Robert took James Hamilton and Robert Curle into partnership as Robert Barclay and Curle.

1847 Admitted John Ferguson as a partner

1852 Began shipbuilding in iron[1]

1855 Acquired the Clydeholm, Whiteinch yard from J. G. Lawrie

1857 Began to manufacture marine engines

1857 Admitted Andrew Maclean and Archibald Gilchrist as partners

1862 Built new works at Stobcross with a floor area of 19,000 square feet.

1863 Robert Barclay died. The business name was changed to Barclay, Curle and Co.

1865 See 1865 Clyde Shipbuilders for detail of the tonnage produced.

1870s The Stobcross yard had made 22 sailing ships up to this point. In addition, the newer Clydeholm yard delivered its first steamer and so began a fruitful period of steamer building.

1876 Barclay Curle and Company moved their yard down river from Stobcross to a position opposite Linthouse, just above the yard that the Wingates had run for many years but which had recently failed.

1880s The yard built its first steel steamer and continued making steel barques. the yard also made steam yachts.

1884 Incorporated as a limited company Barclay Curle and Company

1888 Triple-expansion engine with Morton's valve gear for 'SS Circe' [2]

1888 Glasgow Exhibition. Description of their exhibits. [3]

1889 See 1889 Shipbuilding Statistics for detail of the tonnage produced

1893 Barclay, Curle and Co sold their works to the Tunnel Co. for the construction of the subway under the Clyde, and instead took over the works of John and James Thomson.

1900 On the 7th January Archibald Gilcrest, the Chairman died.[4] His son, James became managing director. Andrew Maclean was briefly chairman.

1902 Acquired ship repair yard in Whitefield Road, Govan

1900s The newer yard began making ever larger liners and cargo-liners, and liner companies from around the world became regular customers.

1912 Acquired the Elderslie yard and graving dock previously operated by John Shearer and Sons [5].

1912 Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson took over Barclay Curle and Co Ltd which became a subsidiary, including the Clydeholm and Elderslie shipyards and dry docks, and the dry docks in Govan. British India Line became the main customers of the Clydeholm (?) yard - they ordered 17 ships before the outbreak of World War I.

Formed a new business, the North British Diesel Engine Works Ltd, at its Clydeholm Shipyard in Glasgow. This was designed to develop the diesel capacity acquired through Barclay Curle's take over of the North British Engine Co, Scotstoun, Glasgow[6].

1914 Shipbuilders and engineers, identified with the development of the intermediate twin-screw type of passenger steamer and trooper. [7]

WWI The Clydeholm and West Scotstoun yards produced 57 ships. In addition thirty convoy escort sloops, five "P" class submarine hunters, four river gunboats and six oil tankers. Over 1000 ships were repaired at the yards too. During the First World War the Barclay Curle yard built several Insect class gunboats for the Royal Navy. Barclay Curle also built 150 night versions of the B.E.2 aircraft.

1920s The yards built eight war replacement "G" class meat carriers. British India then returned as the yard's main customer, and the first of many cargo-liners were built for many different companies. In 1922 the company bought up the Jordanvale yard which was *the next yard along down-river. This yard was then modernised, and went on to produce tramps and coasters.

1922 re-registered the diesel engine works as North British Diesel Engine Works (1922) Ltd

1925 North British Diesel Engine Works (1922) Ltd went into voluntary liquidation, its assets being acquired by Barclay, Curle and Co Ltd.

1925 See Aberconway for information on shipbuilding h.p produced in 1904 and 1925

1930s The yards began making tankers, and in 1932, they were rationalised. The West Scotstoun and Govan yards now only undertook repair work, with shipbuilding concentrated at the Clydeholm and Jordanvale yards. The yards managed to keep going during the Depression and they made small motor passenger/cargo-liners, tankers and then riveted tramps, cargo-liners and troopships.

1940s The yards concentrated on building luxury passenger and cargo-liners, along with general cargo ships.

1950s From this point onwards the yards continued making a wide variety of high end vessels for companies all around the world. This included tankers, fish factory ships, bulk carriers and colliers.

1961 Shipbuilders, repairers, engineers and dry dock owners. Also manufacturers of office and cabinet furniture for contract work. 3,028 employees. [8]

1967 Swan Hunter Shipbuilders closed the Clydeholm yard

1968 The North Britain Engine Works of the company awarded contracts for marine machinery. Part of the Swan Hunter Group [9]

1968 The company ceased building ships in its Glasgow yard, but continued as a naval engine builder (Sulzer Brothers) until transferring production to naval weapon systems (Sea Dart/Wolf Missiles) in the late 70's, finally becoming an industrial estate in the mid 80's. As part of the Seawind Group, the company retains facilities in Birkenhead, Merseyside, and at Appledore, Devon.

1970s The ship repairing yard at West Scotstoun became part of British Shipbuilders in 1977. After this the factory was converted into a guided missile launcher manufacturing plant.

1974 The Elderslie Dockyard was acquired by Yarrow Shipbuilders.


The company records of the Barclay Curle Glasgow yard from 1852-1965 are held by the University of Glasgow archives.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [2] Wikipedia
  • British Shipbuilding Yards. 3 vols by Norman L. Middlemiss
  • History of Barclay, Curle and Co, The Times, 13 December 1912.
  • The Shipbuilding Industry: A Guide to Historical Records by L. A. Ritchie
  1. The Engineer 1900/11/23
  2. The Engineer 1888/05/11 p384+ & p388
  3. The Engineer 1888/06/01
  4. The Engineer 1900/01/12 p44
  5. The Times, 28 February 1912
  6. Glasgow University Archives [1]
  7. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  8. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  9. The Engineer of 10th May 1968 p725