Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Bow, McLachlan and Co

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1895. Steering engine of HMS Venus and Diana.
Twin-Screw Steamer. 1906.
Steam and Hand Steering Gear. 1907.

of Thistle Works, Paisley

1872 William Bow and John McLachlan established the firm of Bow McLachlan and Co at Abbotsinch, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Initially manufacturers of steering gear and light marine engines, the business turned to shipbuilding, following the acquisition of the Thistle Works, Paisley, Renfrewshire, in 1900. Their specialisation at this point was the manufacture of vessels supplied in kit form.

1894 Advertising engines under the Thistle name [1]

1889 See 1889 Shipbuilding Statistics for detail of the marine engines produced.

1899 Left the copartnery of Paterson, Cooper and Co

1900 Mr J. M. Dewar was appointed general manager of the Paisley firm.[2]

1900 William Bow and John McLachlan took over the yard of J. McArthur and Co, naming their new limited liability company Bow, McLachlan and Co. The Company developed a good reputation for building tugs, having previously made light marine engines and steering gear

1900 The company was registered on 1 November, to acquire the businesses of engineers, boiler-makers etc of the firm of the same name and two other firms. [3]

1900s Various ships were made for Canadian companies including the Salvage King a deep-sea steam salvage tug that was used in many ocean rescues. The yard also built coastal steamers.

1902 Took a license for the Schmidt system for engines to work with superheated steam from Easton and Co.[4]

WWI The yard mainly built small warships.

Captain Bow, Director of Bow, McLachlan and Co was killed at South Shields ca. 1920 when a lifting chain broke bringing a triple expansion engine down on top of him.[5]

This tragic accident was probably the catalyst which caused the 1920 closure of his firm Bow McLachlan & Co Thistle Engine Works & Shipyard Paisley.

1920 The yard went into voluntary liquidation in 1920. At this time the assets of the company were taken over by a new company, also called Bow McLachlan & Co Ltd

1920s The yard made coasters for Greek, Indian, and Australian companies.

1925 See Aberconway for information on shipbuilding h.p produced in 1904 and 1925.

1928 Plans of Thistle Works [6]

1929 Plans of Flying Eagle

1930s The yard made a coastal tanker for a Finnish company before a series of six naval tugs for Chile. The company also made the paddle tug John H. Amos and this vessel is still in use today.

1932 The company went into liquidation and the yard was closed, although it did open briefly in World War II to build landing craft.

The Thistle Works were purchased by National Shipbuilders Security, London.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. A-Z of British Stationary Engines by Patrick Knight. Published 1999. ISBN 1 873098 50 2
  2. The Engineer 1900/04/13 p 394.
  3. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  4. The Engineer 1901/01/31 p126
  5. Anon
  6. [1] Ship Building, Ship Repair and Allied Industries: Sources, at University of Glasgow
  • British Shipbuilding Yards. 3 vols by Norman L. Middlemiss
  • [2] Glasgow University