William Beardmore and Company

William Beardmore and Company

Infobox Defunct company
company_name = William Beardmore and Company, Ltd.
slogan =
company_type = Limited company
fate = Wound down and dissolved
Predecessor =
successor =
foundation = 1887
defunct = 1975
location = Parkhead, Glasgow; Dalmuir, Clydebank
industry = Steelmaking, heavy engineering, shipbuilding, locomotive building, ordnance manufacture, automotive, aviation
products =
key_people = William Beardmore
num_employees =
parent =
subsid =

William Beardmore and Company was a Scottish engineering and shipbuilding company based in Glasgow and the surrounding Clydeside area. It was active between about 1890 and 1930 and at its peak employed about 40,000 people. It was founded and owned by William Beardmore, later Lord Invernairn, after whom the Beardmore Glacier was named.


William Beardmore and Company was established in Parkhead in the east end of Glasgow as a manufacturer of steel forgings for the shipbuilding industry of the River Clydecite web |url=http://www.theclydebankstory.com/story_TCSC02.php |title=TheClydebankStory - Industries: Beardmore |accessdate=2008-04-28 |format=html |work=The Clydebank Story] , later diverging into the manufacture of guns and armour.


In 1900, Beardmore took over the shipyard of Robert Napier in Govan, a logical diversification from the original activities. In 1900, Beardmore began construction of what would become The Naval Construction Yard, at Dalmuir in north Clydebank; the largest and most advanced in the United Kingdom. HMS "Agamemnon" was the yard's first order to complete, in 1906. Other notable warships produced by Beardmores include the "Dreadnoughts", HMS "Conqueror" (1911), HMS "Benbow" (1913) and HMS "Ramillies" (1917). In 1917, Beardmore completed the aircraft carrier, HMS "Argus", the first carrier to have a full length flat top flight deck. Beardmore expanded the activities at Dalmuir to include the manufacture of all sorts or arms and armaments, the site employing 13,000 people at its peak. The post war recession hit the firm hard, and the shipyard was forced to close in 1930. Part of the site and some of the existing buildings later became incorporated into ROF Dalmuir: part was used by the General Post Office's for their cable-laying ships


During the First World War, the company ventured into aircraft production, building Sopwith Pup aircraft at Dalmuir under licence. Later, a shipborne version of the Pup - the Beardmore W.B.III - was designed in-house. A hundred of these aircraft were produced and delivered to the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). The company built and ran the Inchinnan Airship Constructional Station at Inchinnan in Renfrewshire. It produced the airships "R27", "R32", "R34" and "R36".

The company acquired a licence for stressed skin construction using the Rohrbach principles. An order for two flying boats using this construction idea was placed with Beardmore. It had the aircraft built for it by the Rohrbach Metal Aeroplane Company in Copenhagen and they were delivered to the RNAS as the Beardmore Inverness. Post-war, a large, experimental, all-metal trimotor transport aircraft was designed and built at Dalmuir and delivered to the Royal Air Force as the Beardmore Inflexible. Beardmore produced a line of aircraft engines, including the Cyclone, Meteor, Simoon, Tornado, Typhoon and Whirlwind.

Road vehicles

In 1917, Beardmore bought Sentinel Waggon Works, a manufacturer of steam-powered railway locomotives, railcars and road vehicles. In 1919 a range of cars was announced, to be made by a subsidiary company, Beardmore Motors Ltd, based in factories in Glasgow and the surrounding area; Anniesland, Coatbridge and Paisley.

The smallest of the initial offerings was the 1486 cc, four-cylinder 11.4 with an overhead camshaft (OHC), manufactured in Anniesland. The camshaft system proved to be unreliable and the engine was replaced by a 1656 cc side-valve unit in 1919. Development work was continued on the OHC system, and an engine of this type was re-introduced in 1921 of the same size as, and replacing, the side-valved one. It was increased in capacity to 1960 cc in 1924 and the car's name changed to the 12.8. This increase was reversed with the 1854 cc 12.30, which continued in production until 1925. The Sports 12 version was announced in 1924 with a guaranteed top speed of 70 mph and priced at £550. A large car, the four cylinder 4072 cc Thirty was made at Coatbridge in small numbers from 1920.

mechanicals, with 1940s-styled coachwork. In all about 500 private cars were made, with taxi production nearer 6000.

Between 1921 and 1924 Beardmore took over building the Precision range of motorcycles that had been developed by Frank Baker, selling them as "Beardmore Precision". Engine sizes ranged from 250 cc to 600 cc. They also supplied the engines to several cyclecar manufacturers. After Beardmore stopped manufacture, Baker set up his own company again and restarted production.

Decline and demise

Beardmore's various companies became unprofitable in the post-war slump cite web |url=http://www.jamescairdsociety.com/beardmore.php |title=James Caird Society - Beardmore |work=James Caird Society |accessdate=2008-05-27] , resulting in the company facing bankruptcy. Finanical aid initially came from Vickers Limited, which took a 60% stake in Beardmores before pulling out in the late 1920s. Beardmore himself was removed from executive control of his company by the Bank of England.

The crisis in the British shipbuilding industry resulted in the formation of a company with the purpose of taking control of and eliminating loss-making shipyards to reduce capacity and competition; National Shipbuilders Security Ltd. The latter bought Beardmore's Dalmuir yard in 1930 and the yard was closed and its facilities dismantled, although various maritime engineering works persisted until 1936. Beardmores various other businesses were wound down over the next few years until Bearmore's retirement and death in 1936. The remnants of the company persisted, under Sir James Lithgow of shipbuilding giant Lithgows, Limited. The final remnants of the company were wound up in 1975.


The archives of William Beardmore and Company are maintained by the Archives of the University of Glasgow (GUAS).

ee also

* Beardmore Precision Motorcycles
*Arthur MacManus and David Kirkwood, notable Scottish socialists and trade unionists active in the Beardmore workforce.
*Timeline of hydrogen technologies


* R.D. Thomas, B.Patterson, Dreadnoughts in Camera 1905-1920, 1998, Sutton Publishing
* Johnson, Ian, (1993). Beardmore Built: The Rise and Fall of a Clydeside Shipyard. Clydebank: Clydebank District Libraries & Museums Department.

External links

* [http://www.theclydebankstory.com/story_TCSC02.php detailed history of the company]
* [http://www.clydesite.co.uk/clydebuilt/index.asp Clyde built ships data base] - lists all ships built on the Clyde
* [http://www.archives.gla.ac.uk/collects/catalog/ugd/051-100/ugd100-1.html Glasgow University Archive Services]
* [http://www.dogdragons.com/dogdragons/does2/cassington_07/beardmore-precision.html Beardmore Precision motorcycle gallery]
* [http://www.nzetc.org/tm/scholarly/Gov11_08Rail-fig-Gov11_08Rail027b.html Beardmore diesel-electric train in Spain c1936]
* [http://www.jamescairdsociety.com/beardmore.php Jaimes Caird Society]

[Category:Marine engine manufacturers]

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