William Beardmore & Co Ltd

steel manufacturers and engineers, Glasgow, Scotland

(GUAS Ref: UGD 100/1 and UGD 179)

William Beardmore & Co Ltd, owner of the Parkhead Forge in the east end of Glasgow, was established in 1871 when the business was acquired from Robert Napier & Sons, the shipbuilders.  Under Sir William Beardmore (1856-1936 ) the firm expanded rapidly.  In 1879 he began making open hearth steel and added a steel foundry the following year.  In 1888 armour plate plant was installed, followed in 1891 by a mill to roll plates for high‐pressure boilers.  In 1900, Beardmore began the construction of a large modern shipyard and engineering works at Dalmuir, West Dunbartonshire, on the lower Clyde.  On the outbreak of war in 1914, the company was immediately called on to supply guns, ships and aeroplanes in quantity.  A great deal of money was invested in new buildings and plant to manufacture all this material, particularly at Dalmuir and at Mossend, where the works were completely reconstructed with help from the Ministry of Munitions.  Additional premises for munitions work were bought at Paisley, Renfrewshire, and Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire.

After the end of the war, Sir William's enthusiasm for expansion and development was unabated.  He saw the future in terms of the manufacture of passenger aeroplanes, cars, railway engines and motor cycles and opened an experimental civil aviation department.  In 1921, he was created Lord Invernairn, taking his title from his home in Inverness-shire.  Unfortunately, at this point, he ran into serious difficulty and the company began to lose money and by 1926, was, to all intents, bankrupt.  During 1914-1918, 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.  The company built and ran the Inchinnan Airship Constructional Station at Inchinnan, Renfrewshire.  It produced the airships R27, R32, R34 and R36.  Beardmore produced a line of aircraft engines, including the Cyclone, Meteor, Simoon, Tornado, Typhoon and Whirlwind.

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