The Meadowside Shipyard of D. & W. Henderson

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Angus Mac Kinnon
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The Meadowside Shipyard of D. & W. Henderson

Post by Angus Mac Kinnon » Tue Jan 31, 2012 7:40 pm

Many of the visitors to the new Transport Museum on the North bank of the River Clyde and the West side of the River Kelvin at its confluence with the Clyde, may be unaware of the distinguished shipbuilding history of this area. The following short narrative offers an insight to such history.

In keeping with many others who were to make their name as shipbuilders and marine engineers under the tutelage and supervision of that Father of the Clyde – Robert Napier, or his cousin David Napier – David Tod and John MacGregor served under Robert Napier, first at Camlachie and later at Lancefield. At Lancefield, Tod & MacGregor were in charge of the engineering department and it was often the case that one or both of these promising engineers sailed as ‘guarantee engineers’ on vessels that had been engined by David Napier.

In 1834, Tod & MacGregor left the service of Napier and started on their own account as Tod & MacGregor, Engineers, with premises in Carrick Street, just off the Broomielaw. These premises were deemed too small and before long the engineering partners moved to more commodious premises in nearby Warroch Street, off Anderson Quay. With the resulting increased space, they decided to add boiler-making to their engineering enterprise.

In late 1836, Tod & MacGregor opened up a shipbuilding yard on the other side of the River, near Mavisbank Quay and opposite to their old stomping ground of Lancefield when employed by Napier. Here they built paddle and screw steamers such as Rothesay Castle, Windsor Castle, Vale of Leven, Tar, Royal Sovereign, Royal George and Princess Royal. A demand for larger vessels, along with a requirement by the Clyde Trust to acquire the shipyard of Tod & MacGregor for Harbour extension, caused the partnership to move to a new site at Meadowside, in 1845, within the burgh of Partick and directly opposite the Burgh of Govan. This facility became known as the Meadowside Shipyard.

In 1856, the Meadowside Yard area was increased in size by the purchase of an adjacent small shipbuilding yard owned by Thomas Bollen Seath, a qualified ship-master who had ‘swallowed the anchor’ and turned his hand to shipbuilding, mainly small coasting vessels, but who was somewhat incongruously moving his business up the Clyde to a site at Rutherglen.

In 1858 Tod & MacGregor opened a new dry-dock (474 feet long on the floor x 61 feet width at the entrance x 18 feet depth on dock-sill at Spring tides) adjacent to their shipbuilding yard, the first dry dock in the Upper Reaches of the River Clyde, and which was to be known as the Kelvin Dry Dock. This proved a valuable asset. Opened on 28th January 1858, by the end of that year the dry dock had already handled 30 vessels totalling 22,000 tons. Another innovative feature of the Meadowside Shipyard was two large sheds built over the ship building berths, almost certainly the first enclosed building berths in Scotland and well ahead of their time.

In late 1872, the Meadowside Shipyard, together with the engine works at Warroch Street, was acquired by Messrs Handyside & Henderson, who had founded the Anchor Line of steamers in 1859. The shipyard now became known as D. & W. Henderson & Company Limited, but locally was known as the ‘The Anchor Line’ because the Yard was owned by a branch of the family that owned the Anchor Line. The purchase price was said to be £200,000 – not a small sum for these times.

David and William Henderson were the shipbuilding/engineering side of this famous and successful family. Thomas and John Henderson were the shipping line partners who built up the Anchor Line. The Henderson family went on to build the family concern with classic ships of high quality, powered by machinery of their own manufacture - ships such as Alsatia, Armenia, Nubia, Arabia, Persia, Asia and Anglia.

With the deaths of the four Henderson brothers (between 1892 and 1895) the expansion of the Anchor Line came to a temporary halt and, in 1899, their shipowning partnership was dissolved and financial interest in the Meadowside Shipyard came to an end, although Anchor Line ships continued to be ordered from the Yard at the rate of one or two per annum.

The new Design and Engineering Drawing Offices - the only visual evidence of Meadowside Shipyard today - was completed in 1895. The shipbuilding Yard was incorporated as a limited liability company in 1900 as D. & W. Henderson & Coy. Ltd.

The well-appointed Anchor Line Head Offices in St Vincent Place, Glasgow, was built in 1907.

Although the Anchor Line featured prominently in the machinations of the Meadowside Shipyard, they also undertook work for other important customers in the shipping fraternity, such as Lamport & Holt, Maclay & McIntyre, Bell Brothers and McClelland, Allan Line, Rogers & Company, J & A Roxburgh, A & D Bordes & Son, Apcar Brothers of Calcutta, Nippon Yusen Kaisha, T & J Harrison, Strick Line, Leyland Line, Allan & Black of Sunderland, King Line, Raeburn & Verel, Clark & Service, Paddy Henderson, Hogarth of Ardrossan, Christian Salvesen of Leith, Hunting & Son of Newcastle, Southern India Railway Company Ltd., Richard Hughes of Liverpool, Southern railway Company, James & Alexander Brown of Glasgow, Clyde Shipping Company Ltd., Alfred Holt’s China Mutual Steam Navigation Company, and of course Glasgow’s Donaldson Line.

The Firm also built some famous and beautiful racing yachts, designed by George L. Watson, the 'Rainbow' for C. C. Orr-Ewing, the 'Britannia' for the Prince of Wales, and America Cup Challengers 'Thistle', 'Valkyrie II' and 'Valkyrie III'.

The 'Thistle' was built under the instruction of a syndicate formed by James Bell of the Royal Clyde Yacht Club, but would not hold to windward, so was unable to succeed in the America Cup competition and was later sold to the German Emperor Wilhelm II. Lord Dunraven was equally unsuccessful with 'Valkyrie II' in the 1893 race, and again with 'Valkyrie III' in 1895.

In 1935, and in keeping with many other Yards, who were severely strained to remain viable in the worldwide depressed state of commerce and industry, the Henderson family sold their building berths to the National Shipbuilders Security and thus went out of business as Shipowners and Shipbuilders, going into Receivership on 4th April 1935. At this time the Anchor Line had a fine fleet of famous liners such as Cameronia, Caledonia, California, Transylvania and Tuscania – ships with beautiful lines and well loved by those who sailed in them transatlantic.

However, Harland & Wolf wished to retain the Meadowside Dry Dock and fitting-out berth, for use by their Govan Yard, and a repair facility subsidiary (D . & W. Henderson Ltd) was formed in 1936 to secure the future of the dry dock.

The last vessel to come out of the Meadowside Yard was T. & J. Harrison’s 6,210 tons steamship S.S. INVENTOR, launched on 3rd July 1935, Yard Number 953, with a triple-expansion steam reciprocating engine also manufactured by Henderson that gave the vessel a speed of 13 knots. She was delivered on 9th September 1935, at a cost of £109,083. This vessel lasted until 1960 before going for breaking.

Apart from the construction of Landing Craft during the war, some of which participated in the landings in Italy and at Normandy, where Messrs Arrol & Company and Redpath Brown & Company were involved, hereafter only repair works were carried out at the Yard.

The area became an industrial estate in later years and the Kelvin Drydock was duly filled in and can no longer be seen - its location today known only to those who knew of it in its latter working life under Harland & Wolff. Ironically, rubble and fill from another iconic Glasgow landmark was used to fill the dock – the old Saint Enoch Hotel, now replaced by the large Saint Enoch Shopping Centre.

Whilst this narrative is focussed on the site where the new Transport Museum and Tall Ship are located, a mention should be made to the other very successful shipbuilding concern that existed in this same area – immediately across the short span of the River Kelvin, i.e. the Firm of A. & J. Inglis Limited, and their successful Pointhouse Shipyard, opened in 1862, who built over 500 ships before finally closing down in 1963. However, the ship lover can still see evidence of their craft in the form of the Maid of the Loch at Balloch and the much-loved paddle steamer Waverley.
Angus Mac Kinnon

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Deepol
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Re: The Meadowside Shipyard of D. & W. Henderson

Post by Deepol » Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:11 pm

The old offices and surrounding area waiting for the proposed redevelopment.
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D&WHendersonOffices-Partick28April09-09.jpg
D&WHendersonYard-Offices-Meadowside13October09-011-res.jpg
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Colin Campbell
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Re: The Meadowside Shipyard of D. & W. Henderson

Post by Colin Campbell » Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:32 pm

Copy of an advert from The Anchor Line,A History from 1931 shows both Hendersons and A & J Inglis shipyards also Hendersons drydock and the last remaining building standing today...The old Drawing Office
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D & W Henderson Advert.jpg
D & W Hendersons

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Deepol
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Re: The Meadowside Shipyard of D. & W. Henderson

Post by Deepol » Wed May 22, 2013 1:54 pm

A better detail of the photograph in the advert.
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Henderson-Inglis-Harlands-aerial.jpg
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Deepol
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Re: The Meadowside Shipyard of D. & W. Henderson

Post by Deepol » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:19 pm

Shot of INVENTOR from the collection.
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Inventor-Henderson-last-ship.jpg
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Allan
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Re: The Meadowside Shipyard of D. & W. Henderson

Post by Allan » Fri May 20, 2016 11:16 pm

Regretfully, think it appropriate to note here that BBC News are tonight reporting what seems to be a major fire, engulfing the building which once accommodated the offices of D & W Henderson.

Originating from 1885, a sad end to the last remaining edifice of an icon of the Clyde.
Allan Macmillan

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duncanwilson
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Re: The Meadowside Shipyard of D. & W. Henderson

Post by duncanwilson » Sun Jun 12, 2016 6:17 pm

It looks as if demolition has commenced on the former offices of D & W Henderson. I was passing on the train last night and half the building has almost gone. A tractor with an extended arm was sitting adjacent to the building.
I am hoping that it is work to stabilise the building, but I don't think so.

Cheers, Duncan.

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Allan
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Re: The Meadowside Shipyard of D. & W. Henderson

Post by Allan » Sun Jun 12, 2016 8:24 pm

Thanks for posting this Duncan - I share your optimism - however, time will tell.
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Deepol
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Re: The Meadowside Shipyard of D. & W. Henderson

Post by Deepol » Tue Aug 16, 2016 11:11 am

It had to go. The site of Henderson's offices now demolished following the fire earlier this year. A sad end for this building destroyed by apathy.
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ScotwayHouse on Fire May 20th 2016.jpg
Courtesy Gary Stuart-Watson
Scotway House Inside .jpg
Courtesy Gary Stuart-Watson
D&WHendersonOfficessite15Aug16-2.jpg
Paul Strathdee

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