Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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James Tennant Caird

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James Tennant Caird (1816-1888)

1888 Obituary [1]

The death is announced of Mr. James Tennant Caird, one of the most distinguished men in Scotch shipbuilding and marine engineering.

Mr. Caird was born in the village of Thornliebank, in the county of Renfrew, in 1816, so that he was about seventy-two years of age at his death. Mr. Caird began his apprenticeship in the firm of Caird and Co at the age of fifteen. The old firm was merely the nucleus of the present one, and although now associated in the memory with the name of Principal Caird, whose father was head partner, it derives its past lustre from the achievements of the late James Tennant Caird.

The Right Reverend Principal, for a brief period, served in the same firm, which has thus had the distinction of being associated with two eminent men, moving, it is true, in walks of life widely apart, but having in common a deep love for the faculty of invention, whether applied to oratory or mechanics.

The history of shipbuilding on the Clyde is but a reflex of the history of the life of the late Mr. James Tennant Caird. As far back as 1841-2, in association with John Scott Russell, who subsequently built the Great Eastern, now lying off Greenock, Mr. Caird constructed and designed the first steamships of the Royal Mail Co.

During Mr. Caird's active life the growth of his firm establishments in Arthur street and in the vicinity of the Old West Kirk was very rapid. When the warship Greenock was launched from the shipbuilding yard, the works were in the hands of another firm. Mr. Caird was a man of great intellectual activity and grasp, and thus kept himself in advance of the changes that were occurring, or enabled him to grasp the new principles of construction and propulsion that were outing the old methods, and see their importance.

He appreciated the wants of the commercial world, and concerted his establishments into places of business that for perfection of machinery and appliances have very few equals in the kingdom. The result has been the construction of the finest and swiftest steamships in the world, from the river steamer to the splendid leviathans of the P. & O, fleet that have left our harbours within the past thirty years. We need only allude to the feats of the Victoria and the Britannia - the Jubilee steamers of the P. & O Company. Mr. Caird enjoyed his success in a spirit of genial frankness. He had worked hard for it, and he valued it.

1888 Obituary [2]

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