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Alexander Stephen and Sons

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alexander Stephen and Sons
IndustryShipbuilding & Engineering
HeadquartersLinthouse, Glasgow, Scotland

Alexander Stephen and Sons Limited, often referred to simply as Alex Stephens or just Stephens, was a Scottish shipbuilding company based in Linthouse, Glasgow, on the River Clyde.


The red brick former offices of Alexander Stephen and Sons are situated on Holmfauld Road adjacent to the Clyde Tunnel and are now commercial office space.
The red brick former offices of Alexander Stephen and Sons are situated on Holmfauld Road adjacent to the Clyde Tunnel and are now commercial office space.
The grave of Alexander Stephen of Kelly (1832–1899) and John Stephen (1835–1916) and their families, Glasgow Necropolis
The grave of Alexander Stephen of Kelly (1832–1899) and John Stephen (1835–1916) and their families, Glasgow Necropolis

The company's roots can be found in Alexander Stephen (1722–1793) who began shipbuilding at Burghead on the Moray Firth in 1750.[1]

In 1793 William Stephen (1759–1838), a descendant of his, established a firm of shipbuilders at Footdee in Aberdeen.[2]

In 1813 another member of the family, again called William (1789–1829), commenced shipbuilding at Arbroath.[2]

Alexander Stephen (1795–1875), a member of the third generation of the family, merged the Aberdeen and Arbroath businesses in 1828[1] and then, after closing the Aberdeen yard in 1829, moved production to the Panmure yard in Dundee in 1842.[1] In 1850 Alexander Stephen arranged a lease of the Kelvinhaugh yard in Glasgow from Robert Black for twenty years from May, 1851. The site of the Kelvinhaugh yard is now Yorkhill Quay.[1] The Arbroath yard finally closed in 1857. Due to the restrictions in size of the Kelvinhaugh yard, as well as the impending expiry of the lease, in 1870 the Glasgow business moved to a new site at Linthouse.[1] The Dundee shipyard was sold to the Dundee Shipbuilders' Company in 1893.[3]

In a tragic disaster in 1883, the Daphne, a steamer, capsized after its launch from the Linthouse yard, and 124 workers lost their lives.[4] In 1968, Stephens was incorporated into Upper Clyde Shipbuilders[5] and was closed after the latter organisation collapsed in 1971.[6] The engineering and ship repair elements of Alexander Stephen & Sons were not part of the UCS merger and continued until 1976, with the Company eventually wound up in 1982, when the shareholders were repaid.

The ship repair business was based at the Govan Graving Docks, which had been purchased from the Clyde Port Authority in 1967.

There is no knowledge of the earliest ships built, but the last 153 which were built on the East Coast are recorded. On the Clyde the firm built 697 ships, 147 at the Kelvinhaugh shipyard and the remainder at Linthouse.

It was at Stephens shipyard that Billy Connolly served his apprenticeship as a boilermaker. In 1992, he returned to the site of the now-demolished shipyard he worked at 35 years earlier. "What an extraordinary feeling. I spent a great deal of my life in here. From age 16 to... well, I started at 15. I started my apprenticeship at 16 and finished when I was 21. Stayed till I was 22, and moved along. I finished welding when I was 24. When I came here, as an apprentice, there was six ships being built, right where I'm standing. It was an extraordinary place. A hive of activity. Welders, caulkers, platers, burners, joiners, engineers, electricians. I learned how men talked to one another, and how merciless Glasgow humour can be. It has made an indelible mark on me."[7] His foreman was Sammy Boyd, but the two biggest influences on him, according to the book written by his wife Pamela, were Jimmy Lucas and Bobby Dalgleish. Jimmy was one of Billy's trainers in the yard who helped him to hone his skills as a welder and a comedian.[8]

Part of the site is now occupied by a Thales Optronics facility, with the former main office building converted into lettable office space by Govan Workspace. The A-listed former Engine Shop was salvaged by the Scottish Maritime Museum in 1991 and rebuilt at its site in Irvine.

Ships built by Alexander Stephen and Sons

University of Glasgow Archives hold a number of separately catalogued records collections for various Clyde shipbuilding firms associated with the name Alexander Stephen. For ship's plans, two of the larger holdings are "Collection of miscellaneous ship plans built on the river Clyde, Glasgow, Scotland" (gb 248 GB 248 UGD 130/5) and "Records of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd, Linthouse Division, shipbuilders Glasgow, Scotland" (gb 248 GB 248 UGD 349). However the cataloging does not list names of individual vessels. Cataloguing is accessed via a link from the GLA home page, directly from the GLA search page.

The table below provides basic details of vessels from 1940, and it will be expanded to include other vessels. Further lists of vessels built by the firm can be found at the "Maritime History Virtual Archives": Arbroath yard list 1830-1843, Dundee yard list 1844-1893, Linthouse yard-list 1870-1893.

Yard number Type of vessel Name Launched
42 Passenger cargo vessel / Commerce raider CSS Shenandoah 1863
83 composite barque Fusi Yama[9] 1865
56 Barquentine-rigged steam cutter Bear 1874
215 Iron barque Mabel Young[9] 1877 Iron Barque "South Esk"
250 Steamer/cargo ship Alverton 1880[10]
303 4 mast iron barque Bracadale 1887
394 Passenger cargo liner SS Burutu 1902
509 Tug Forceful 1925
519 Passenger liner RMS Viceroy of India 1929
529 Passenger Liner Kenya 1930
527 Yacht Rover[11] 1930
540 Passenger Cargo Vessel MV Manoora 1935
543 Passenger Cargo Vessel SS Taroona 1934
571 Hunt Class destroyer HMS Tynedale 1940
572 Hunt Class destroyer HMS Whaddon 1941
573 Fleet destroyer HMS Matchless 1942
574 Fleet destroyer HMS Meteor 1942
575 Refrigerated cargo ship MV Gloucester 1941
576 Refrigerated cargo ship MV Nottingham 1941
577 Hunt Class destroyer HMS Croome 1941
578 Hunt Class destroyer HMS Dulverton 1941
579 Hunt Class destroyer HMS Blackmore 1942
580 Hunt Class destroyer HMS Bramham 1942
581 Bangor class minesweeper HMS <i>Poole</i> 1941
582 Bangor class minesweeper HMS Lyme Regis 1942
583–586 4 Landing Craft Mechanised 1940
587–588 2 Tank Landing Craft 1940
589 Hunt Class destroyer HMS Holcombe 1942
590 Hunt Class destroyer HMS Limbourne 1942
591 Fast minelayer HMS Ariadne 1943
592 Refrigerated cargo ship SS <i>Papanui</i> 1943
593 Refrigerated cargo ship SS <i>Paparoa</i> 1943
594 Sloop HMS Amethyst 1943
595 Sloop HMS <i>Hart</i> 1943
596 Cruiser unnamed cancelled
597 Refrigerated cargo ship SS <i>Pipiriki</i> 1944
598 Light Aircraft Carrier HMS Ocean 1945
599 Fleet destroyer HMS Chevron 1945
600 Fleet destroyer HMS Cheviot 1945
601 Fleet destroyer HMS Consort 1946
602 Refrigerated cargo ship SS <i>Devon</i> 1946
603 Fleet destroyer HMS Dunkirk 1946
604 Fleet destroyer HMS <i>Jutland</i> 1947
605 Fleet destroyer HMS <i>St Lucia</i> cancelled
606 Landing Ship Tank HMS <i>LST 3028</i> 1945
607 Landing Ship Tank HMS <i>LST 3029</i> 1945
608 Cargo Vessel SS <i>Somerset</i> 1946
609 Fleet destroyer HMS <i>Defender</i> 1950
610 Passenger Refrigerated Cargo Vessel SS <i>Matina</i> 1946
611 Passenger Cargo Vessel TSS <i>Kampala</i> 1947
612 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Huntingdon</i> 1947
613 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Komata</i> 1946
614 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Cumberland</i> 1948
615 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Koromiko</i> 1947
616 Passenger Cargo Vessel SS <i>Karanja</i> 1948
617 Cargo Vessel SS <i>Kaitoke</i> 1948
618 Passenger Cargo Vessel TSS <i>Golfito</i> 1949
619 Refrigerated Cargo Vessel MV <i>Fort Richepanse</i> 1948
620 Passenger Cargo Vessel MV <i>Fort Dauphin</i> 1949
621 Refrigerated Cargo Liner TS <i>Dorset</i> 1949
622 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Rio Bermejo</i> 1950
623 Cargo Vessel TS <i>Dunedin Star</i> 1950
624 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Kawaroa</i> 1950
625 Cargo Vessel SS <i>City of Bedford</i> 1950
626 Cargo Vessel TSS <i>City of Singapore</i> 1950
627 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Cornwall</i> 1951
629 Passenger Vessel MV Aureol 1951
630 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Surrey</i> 1951
631 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Middlesex</i> 1952
632 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Kurutai</i> 1952
633 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Enton</i> 1952
634 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Kowhai</i> 1952
635 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Waimea</i> 1953
636 Passenger Vessel SS Olympia 1953
637 Cargo Vessel TSS <i>Patonga</i> 1953
638 Frigate HMS Murray 1952
639 Frigate HMS Palliser 1956
640 Refrigerated Cargo Vessel MV <i>Whakatane</i> 1954
641 Cargo Vessel SS <i>Ballarat</i> 1954
642 Cargo Vessel SS <i>Bendigo</i> 1954
643 Passenger Vessel MV <i>Irma</i> 1954
644 Passenger Vessel MV <i>Fernvalley</i> 1954
645 Passenger Cargo Vessel SS <i>Castilian</i> 1955
646 Passenger Vessel MV Princess of Vancouver 1955
648 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Kaimiro</i> 1956
649 Passenger Cargo Vessel TSS <i>Camito</i> 1956
650 Cargo Vessel MV <i>City of Melbourne</i> 1959
651 Cargo Vessel MV <i>City of Newcastle</i> 1955
652 Passenger Cargo Vessel MV <i>Crux</i> 1956
653 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Kaituna</i> 1956
654 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Koranui</i> 1956
655 Frigate INS <i>Kirpan</i> 1958
656 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Donegal</i> 1956
657 Passenger Refrigerated Cargo Vessel TSS <i>Changuinola</i> 1957
658 Passenger Refrigerated Cargo Vessel TSS <i>Chirripo</i> 1957
659 Passenger Refrigerated Cargo Vessel TSS <i>Chicanoa</i> 1957
660 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Koraki</i> 1957
661 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Katea</i> 1958
662 Passenger Cargo Vessel MV <i>Chatham</i> 1959
663 Passenger Cargo Vessel MV <i>Risdon</i> 1959
664 Tanker MV <i>British Fulmar</i> 1958
665 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Waikare</i> 1958
666 Frigate HMS Lowestoft 1959
667 Tanker ST <i>Mobil Acme</i> 1959
668 Tanker ST <i>Mobil Apex</i> 1960
669 Frigate SAS President Steyn 1961
671 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Iberic</i> 1960
672 Tanker TSS <i>British Bombardier</i> 1962
673 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Antrim</i> 1962
674 Frigate HMS Zulu 1962
675 Passenger Refrigerated Cargo Vessel TSS <i>Chuscal</i> 1960
676 Refrigerated Cargo Vessel MV <i>Piako</i> 1961
677 Passenger Cargo Vessel MV <i>Dumurra</i> 1961
678 Passenger Cargo Vessel MV <i>Markhor</i> 1962
679 Passenger Cargo Vessel MV <i>Mahout</i> 1963
680 Passenger Vessel TSS <i>Avalon</i> 1963
681 Frigate HMS Phoebe 1964
682 Dredger se <i>Skitter Ness</i> 1963
683 Dredger <i>Bangka 1</i> 1965
684 Passenger Cargo Vessel MV <i>Zealandic</i> 1964
685 Cargo Vessel MV <i>Melbrook</i> 1964
686 Dredger de <i>Severodvinski</i> 1965
687 Dredger de <i>Onezhskiy</i> 1965
688 Dredger de <i>Arabatski</i> 1966
689 Dredger <i>Nassau Bay</i> 1966
690 Royal Fleet Auxiliary Logistics Vessel RFA Sir Galahad 1966
691 Royal Fleet Auxiliary Logistics Vessel RFA Sir Geraint 1967
692 Dredger <i>Nikarshaka</i> 1967
693 <i>Sewait</i> 1967
694 <i>Sahayak</i> 1967
695 Refrigerated Cargo Vessel MV <i>Majestic</i> 1966
696 Refrigerated Cargo Vessel MV <i>Brittanic</i> 1967
697 Frigate HMS Hermione 1967
698 Dredger <i>Ribbok</i> 1967
700 Refrigerated Cargo Vessel MV <i>Port Chalmers</i> 1967
701 Refrigerated Cargo Vessel MV <i>Port Caroline</i> 1968


  1. ^ a b c d e Records of Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd, shipbuilders and engineers, Linthouse, Govan, Glasgow, Scotland[permanent dead link] University of Glasgow Archives
  2. ^ a b A Shipbuilding History 1750-1932 (Alexander Stephen and Sons) Chapter 1 Grace's Guide
  3. ^ A Shipbuilding History 1750-1932 (Alexander Stephen and Sons) Chapter 4 Grace's Guide
  4. ^ A Stephen (1833-1899), shipbuilder at Kelvinhaugh & Linthouse The Glasgow Story
  5. ^ Government's shipbuilding crisis BBC News, 1 January 2002
  6. ^ Parliamentary debates Hansard, 4 June 1971
  7. ^ Bragg, Melvin (host) (4 October 1992). "Billy Connolly". The South Bank Show. Season 16. Episode 1. LWT.
  8. ^ Stephenson, Pamela (2001). Billy. London, UK: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-00711-091-9.
  9. ^ a b MacGregor, David R. (1983). The Tea Clippers, Their History and Development 1833-1875. Conway Maritime Press Limited. pp. 213–216. ISBN 0 85177 256 0.
  10. ^ "New Screw Steamer For Cardiff". The Cornishman (116). 30 September 1880. p. 4.
  11. ^ From 1932 Southern Cross. Built for James Mackay, 1st Earl of Inchcape, 1932 bought by Howard Hughes, 1937 bought by Axel Wenner-Gren, 1942 bought by Mexican Navy

External links

This page was last edited on 21 November 2020, at 17:55
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