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British Industrial History

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Sir John Aird and Co

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1895 when Charles Lucas died, the businesses of Lucas and Aird were reorganised as:

1898 John Aird and Co was main contractor for the Aswan Low Dam, the first dam across the Nile; construction began.

1901 John Aird was created a baronet

The business undertook a considerable amount of railways and docks work. Projects included the Millom harbour in Cumbria, and the West Highland Railway line. Overseas, the firm built the Suakin to Berber railway in Sudan.

Other schemes included the Royal Edward Dock, Avonmouth (1902–1908)

1908 Sir John Aird (1st Baronet) was largely incapacitated by a stroke and the business was managed by his two sons, Sir John Aird (2nd Baronet) and Malcolm Aird.

1908 Won contract for dock works at Tanjong Pagar docks in Singapore. This was the last major contract undertaken by the Airds. The Singapore contract proved a financial disaster, in part due to misleading site investigations. Work stopped and there followed one of the longest Civil Court Trials lasting 29 days; John Aird & Co were awarded £300,000 in compensation on the grounds that the dock design was not possible to build.

The firm lost around £1 million by the time the affair had been settled. At the end of the trial, the two Aird sons decided to close down the business.

1913 Announcement of the dissolution of the business[1]



1970 Sir John Aird (4th Baronet) revived the name for a while by forming Sir John Aird & Co as a construction and engineering business.

1990s The business was still continuing under the leadership of Sir John Aird, although no longer undertaking major civil engineering work.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Sep 15, 1913
  • Biography of Sir John Aird, ODNB
  • [1] Wikipedia