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Cammell Laird

Cammell Laird
Industry Shipbuilding
Founded 1828
Headquarters Birkenhead, UK
Key people
John Syvret, (Chairman)
Number of employees
Circa 650

Cammell Laird, one of the famous names in British shipbuilding during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, came about following the merger of Laird, Son & Co. of Birkenhead and Johnson Cammell & Co. of Sheffield at the turn of the twentieth century. They also built railway rolling stock until 1929, when that side of the business was separated and became part of the Metropolitan-Cammell Carriage and Wagon Company.


  • History 1
    • Founding of the business 1.1
    • Post 1945 and 1993 closure 1.2
    • Re-establishment and ship repair 1.3
    • Second rebirth as Cammell Laird Shiprepair 1.4
  • Ships built by Cammell Laird 2
  • See also 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Founding of the business

1915 advertisement for Cammell Laird

The Laird company was founded by William Laird, who had established the Birkenhead Iron Works in 1824. When he was joined by his son, John Laird in 1828, their first ship was an iron barge.[1] John realised that the techniques of making boilers could be applied to making ships. The company soon became pre-eminent in the manufacture of iron ships and made major advances in propulsion. In 1860 John Laird was joined in the business by his three sons, who continued it after his death in 1874.

Johnson Cammell & Co. was founded by Charles Cammell and Henry and Thomas Johnson: it made, amongst many other metal products, iron wheels and rails for Britain's railways and was based in Sheffield.[2]

In 1903 the businesses of Messrs. Cammell and Laird merged to create a company at the forefront of shipbuilding.[2] The company also built a number of vehicles for the London Underground. An order was placed for 20 trailer cars and 20 control trailer cars in 1919, which were known as 1920 Stock, and were the first tube cars to be built with doors operated by compressed air. They ran with converted French motor cars, originally built in 1906. The doors were fitted with a sensitive edge, designed to re-open the door if someone became trapped in it, but the mechanism was too sensitive, and was removed after an initial trial period.[3] The cars continued in operation until 1938, eight years after the motor cars were withdrawn, but following withdrawal, five cars became a mobile training school.[4] Cammell Laird also built a number of Standard Stock vehicles for the Underground. They were one of five builders approached to build a sample car to a general specification, which were put into service in February 1923, and three of the builders subsequently built production runs.[5] The company supplied 41 motor cars and 40 trailer cars in 1923, 25 control trailers in 1924, and a further 48 motor cars in 1925.[5]

In 1927, they built 160 passenger coaches for use in India. In order to transport them, Cammell Laird asked Watsons of Gainsborough to build five dumb barges. The coaches were loaded onto the barges at Clifton, near Nottingham on the River Trent, and towed in pairs downriver by a twin-screwed tug named Motorman, built by Henry Scarr of Hessle in 1925. They were taken to Hull for export.[6] In 1929, the railway rolling stock business of Cammell Laird was spun off and merged to become Metropolitan-Cammell Carriage and Wagon Company Ltd.

Between 1829 and 1947, over 1,100 vessels of all kinds were launched from the Cammell Laird slipways into the River Mersey. Among the many famous ships made by the companies were the world's first steel ship, the Ma Roberts, built in 1858 for Dr. Livingstone's Zambezi expedition, CSS Alabama that was built in 1862 for the Confederate States of America, HMS Caroline (1914) that holds the record fastest build time of any significant warship (nine months from her keel being laid till her launch), the first all-welded ship, the Fullagar built in 1920, Cunard's second RMS Mauretania (1938), the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal (91) (1937) the battleship HMS Prince of Wales (53) (1941) and the largest vessel to have been built for the Royal Navy HMS Ark Royal (R09) (1950).

In 1898, Cammell provided the half inch armour plate used to fabricate the four Fowler Armoured Road Trains built during the Second Anglo-Boer War. The armoured road train was the first self-propelled, free-roaming, armoured military land vehicle ever built, predating the tanks of World War One by nearly two decades.

Post 1945 and 1993 closure

Cammell Laird's covered submarine building hall and berth cranes, 2006

The company was nationalised along with the rest of the British shipbuilding industry as British Shipbuilders in 1977. In 1986, it returned to the private sector as part of Barrow-in-Furness-based Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd (VSEL). VSEL and Cammell Laird were the only British shipyards capable of producing nuclear submarines. In 1993, it completed HMS Unicorn (S43) – now HMCS Windsor (SSK 877) – that to this day that is the last new-build ship completed at the yard.[1] After the end of the Upholder class submarine building programme in 1993, the owners of Cammell Laird, VSEL, announced the yard's closure.

Re-establishment and ship repair

Part of the shipyard site was leased by the Coastline Group as a ship repair facility. Coastline eventually bought part of the shipyard and adopted the Cammell Laird name, before floating on the London stock exchange in 1997 and acquiring dockyards at Teesside, Tyneside and Gibraltar.

After experiencing financial difficulties, partly due to the late withdrawal from a £50 million refit contract for the Costa Classica cruise ship by Costa Crociere, the company was forced to enter receivership in April 2001, and the Birkenhead, Teesside and Tyneside shipyards owned by Cammell Laird shiprepair were acquired by the A&P Shiprepair Group in 2001.[7] Cammell Laird Gibraltar, the Royal Dockyard facility in Gibraltar, was disposed of through a local management buyout.

Second rebirth as Cammell Laird Shiprepair

A Fort Victoria class replenishment oiler undergoing refit work at Cammell Laird, 2009

A&P Group sold its Birkenhead subsidiary (A&P Birkenhead) to Northwestern Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders in 2005.[8] Peel Holdings, owners of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company and 50% owners of Northwestern Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders, purchased the Cammell Laird shipyard site and surrounding land in January 2007, to facilitate the proposed Wirral Waters development, although Northwestern Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders continue to maintain a long-term lease on the shipyard facilities, which will form an integral part of the regeneration scheme.[9]

In 2007, it was announced that the occupiers of Cammell Laird Dock, Northwestern Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders, had acquired the rights to the Cammell Laird name.[10] On 17 November 2008, Northwestern Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders officially renamed itself Cammell Laird Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders Limited, stating that recent economic success had made the time right, and that "Cammell Laird is an internationally recognised brand which carries tremendous goodwill when bidding for contracts."[10][11]

In February 2008 it was announced that the company had won a £28m Ministry of Defence contract to overhaul the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship RFA Fort Rosalie.[12]

In January 2010 it was announced that Lairds had received a £44m order for the flight decks of the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.[13]

In May 2012 it was announced that complete shipbuilding is set to return to the yard with the awarding of preferred bidder status to build two new car ferries for Dunoon based operator Western Ferries.[14] In October 2012 construction began.[15]

Ships built by Cammell Laird

Ship Built Type Flag
HMS Queen Elizabeth 2014 Aircraft Carrier  Royal Navy
HMS Prince of Wales 2016 Aircraft Carrier  Royal Navy
HMS Ark Royal 1937 Aircraft Carrier  Royal Navy
HMS Ark Royal 1950 Aircraft Carrier  Royal Navy
HMS Venerable 1943 Aircraft Carrier  Royal Navy
MV Empire MacColl 1943 Merchant Aircraft Carrier  United Kingdom
HMS Audacious 1912 Battleship  Royal Navy
HMS Exmouth 1901 Battleship  Royal Navy
HMS Glory 1899 Battleship  Royal Navy
HMS Mars 1896 Battleship  Royal Navy
HMS Prince of Wales 1939 Battleship  Royal Navy
HMS Rodney 1925 Battleship  Royal Navy
HMS Royal Oak 1892 Battleship  Royal Navy
HMS Temeraire 1939 Battleship  Royal Navy
HMNZS Achilles 1932 Cruiser  Royal New Zealand Navy
HMS Argonaut 1941 Cruiser  Royal Navy
HMS Birkenhead 1915 Cruiser  Royal Navy
HMS Cairo 1918 Cruiser  Royal Navy
HMS Caledon 1916 Cruiser  Royal Navy
HMS Capetown 1918 Cruiser  Royal Navy
HMS Caroline 1914 Cruiser  Royal Navy
HMS Castor 1915 Cruiser  Royal Navy
HMS Charybdis 1940 Cruiser  Royal Navy
HMS Chester 1915 Cruiser  Royal Navy
HMS Constance 1915 Cruiser  Royal Navy
HMS Dido 1939 Cruiser  Royal Navy
HMAS Melbourne 1912 Cruiser  Royal Australian Navy
HMS Pathfinder 1904 Cruiser  Royal Navy
HMS Patrol 1904 Cruiser  Royal Navy
HMS Captain 1869 Turret Ship  Royal Navy
Huáscar 1865 Turret Ship  Peru
HNLMS Prins Hendrik der Nederlanden 1866 Turret Ship  Royal Netherlands Navy
HMS Scorpion 1863 Turret Ship  Royal Navy
HMS Wivern 1863 Turret Ship  Royal Navy
HMS Aldenham 1941 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Atherstone 1939 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Badsworth 1941 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Banshee 1894 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Beaufort 1941 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Belvoir 1941 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Berkeley 1940 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Birmingham 1973 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Blencathra 1940 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Brocklesby 1940 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Contest 1894 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Coventry 1974 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Devonshire 1960 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Dragon 1894 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Earnest 1896 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Edinburgh 1983 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Eskdale 1940 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Express 1896 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Fearless 1934 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Gravelines 1944 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Glaisdale 1941 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Griffon 1896 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Gurkha 1940 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Hardy 1936 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Hogue 1944 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Inglefield 1936 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Ithuriel 1916 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Lagos 1944 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Lively 1901 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Lively 1941 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Liverpool 1980 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Lizard 1911 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Locust 1896 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Lynx 1894 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Malcolm 1919 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Orwell 1901 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Panther 1897 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Quail 1895 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Raider 1942 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Rapid 1942 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Scorpion 1942 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Scourge 1942 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Seal 1897 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Sluys 1945 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Sparrowhawk 1895 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Sprightly 1901 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Swift 1943 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Teazer 1943 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Tenacious 1943 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Thrasher 1895 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Undaunted 1943 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Ulysses 1943 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Virago 1895 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Wolf 1897 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Wolverine 1910 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Zambesi 1943 Destroyer  Royal Navy
HMS Zealous 1944 Destroyer  Royal Navy
Misiones 1937 Destroyer  Argentina
Santa Cruz 1937 Destroyer  Argentina
Aetos 1912 Destroyer  Greece
Ierax 1911 Destroyer  Greece
Leon 1911 Destroyer  Greece
Panthir 1911 Destroyer  Greece
HMS Ajax 1962 Frigate  Royal Navy
HMS Campbeltown 1987 Frigate  Royal Navy
HMS Tenby 1955 Frigate  Royal Navy
HMS Whitby 1954 Frigate  Royal Navy
INS Talwar 1958 Frigate  Indian Navy
CSS Alabama 1862 Sloop  Confederate States Navy
HMS Cygnet 1942 Sloop  Royal Navy
HMS Kite 1942 Sloop  Royal Navy
SS Empire Clive 1941 CAM Ship  United Kingdom
SS Empire Flame 1941 CAM Ship  United Kingdom
HMS Conqueror 1969 Nuclear Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Renown 1967 Nuclear Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Revenge 1968 Nuclear Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Aeneas 1945 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Affray 1944 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Alaric 1946 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS E41 1915 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS E42 1916 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS E45 1916 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS E46 1916 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Finwhale 1959 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Grampus 1957 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS H33 1918 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS H34 1918 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS L7 1916 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS L8 1917 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Odin 1960 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Onyx 1966 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Opossum 1963 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Oracle 1961 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS R11 1918 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS R12 1918 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Safari 1941 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Saga 1945 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Sahib 1942 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Salmon 1934 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Sanguine 1945 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Saracen 1942 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Scorcher 1944 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Seadog 1942 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Sealion 1934 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Sealion 1959 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Sea Nymph 1942 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Sea Scout 1944 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Selene 1944 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Sibyl 1942 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Sickle 1942 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Sidon 1944 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Simoom 1942 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Sleuth 1944 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Solent 1944 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Spearfish 1936 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Spearhead 1944 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Spirit 1943 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Springer 1945 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Spur 1944 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Statesman 1943 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Stoic 1943 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Stonehenge 1943 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Storm 1943 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Stratagem 1943 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Stubborn 1942 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Sturdy 1943 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Stygian 1943 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Subtle 1944 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Supreme 1944 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Surf 1942 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Syrtis 1943 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Taku 1939 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Talisman 1940 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Tempest 1941 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Thetis 1938 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Thorn 1941 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Thrasher 1940 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Trident 1938 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Unicorn 1992 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Unseen 1989 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Ursula 1991 Submarine  Royal Navy
HMS Agincourt 1865 Ironclad  Royal Navy
HMS Rattlesnake 1886 Ironclad  Royal Navy
RMAS Mandarin (P192) 1964 Mooring and Salvage  Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service
RMAS Pintail (P193) 1964 Mooring and Salvage  Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service
RFA Aldersdale 1937 RFA  Royal Fleet Auxiliary
RFA Appleleaf 1975 RFA  Royal Fleet Auxiliary
RFA Bayleaf 1981 RFA  Royal Fleet Auxiliary
RFA Brambleleaf 1976 RFA  Royal Fleet Auxiliary
RFA Dewdale 1941 RFA  Royal Fleet Auxiliary
RFA Orangeleaf 1973 RFA  Royal Fleet Auxiliary
ARA Presidente Sarmiento 1897 Training Ship  Argentina
MV Gambada 1973 LPG carrier  United Kingdom
MV Gazana 1971 LPG carrier  United Kingdom
CS Cable Enterprise 1964 Cable Ship  United Kingdom
CS Retriever 1961 Cable Ship  United Kingdom
CS Mercury 1962 Cable Ship  United Kingdom
MV Abosso 1935 Passenger Liner  United Kingdom
SS Arandora Star 1927 Passenger Liner  United Kingdom
MV Dunedin Star 1935 Cargo Liner  United Kingdom
MV Melbourne Star 1936 Cargo Liner  United Kingdom
MV Brisbane Star 1937 Cargo Liner  United Kingdom
SS Kristianiafjord 1912 Passenger Liner  United Kingdom
RMS Lady Drake 1928 Passenger Liner  Canada
RMS Lady Hawkins 1928 Passenger Liner  Canada
RMS Lady Nelson 1928 Passenger Liner  Canada
RMS Lady Rodney 1929 Passenger Liner  Canada
RMS Lady Somers 1929 Passenger Liner  Canada
SS Prince David 1930 Passenger Liner  Canada
SS Prince Henry 1930 Passenger Liner  Canada
SS Prince Robert 1930 Passenger Liner  Canada
RMS Connaught 1897 Mail Ship  United Kingdom
RMS Leinster 1896 Mail Ship  United Kingdom
RMS Mauretania 1938 Mail Ship  United Kingdom
RMS Windsor Castle 1959 Mail Ship  United Kingdom
Sovereign Explorer 1984 Oil Rig
AV-1 (British Gas) 1985 Oil Rig
SS British Confidence 1936 Oil Tanker  United Kingdom
SS British Fortitude 1937 Oil Tanker  United Kingdom
SS British Promise 1942 Oil Tanker  United Kingdom
SS British Restraint 1943 Oil Tanker  United Kingdom
SS British Sincerity 1939 Oil Tanker  United Kingdom
SS British Tradition 1942 Oil Tanker  United Kingdom
MV Empire MacColl 1943 Oil Tanker  United Kingdom
SS San Flaviano 1956 Oil Tanker  United Kingdom
SS San Fortunato 1956 Oil Tanker  United Kingdom
SS Almeda Star 1926 Passenger and cargo liner  United Kingdom
SS City of Pretoria 1937 Passenger and cargo liner  United Kingdom
SS Manistee 1920 Dry Cargo Ship  United Kingdom
SS Kalyan 1915 Dry Cargo Ship  United Kingdom
SS Darien 1924 Banana Boat  Panama
SS Platano 1930 Banana Boat  Panama
SS Antelope 1889 Ferry  United Kingdom
SS Gazelle 1889 Ferry  United Kingdom
MV Royal Daffodil 1961 Ferry  United Kingdom
MV Sound of Seil 2013 Ferry  United Kingdom
MV Sound of Soay 2013 Ferry  United Kingdom
SS Great Western 1933 Ferry  United Kingdom
SS Lynx 1889 Ferry  United Kingdom
SS Pembroke 1880 Ferry  United Kingdom
SS St Andrew 1932 Ferry  United Kingdom
SS St David 1932 Ferry  United Kingdom
SS St David 1947 Ferry  United Kingdom
SS St George 1906 Ferry  United Kingdom
TSS St Patrick 1947 Ferry  United Kingdom
SS Sir Francis Drake 1908 Tug  United Kingdom
SS Sir Richard Grenville 1891 Tug  United Kingdom
SS Sir Walter Raleigh 1908 Tug  United Kingdom
MV Ulster Queen Ferry  United Kingdom
TSS Manx Maid 1910 Packet Steamer  Isle of Man
SS King Orry 1913 Packet Steamer  Isle of Man
SS Ben-my-Chree 1927 Packet Steamer  Isle of Man
SS Peveril 1929 Packet Steamer  Isle of Man
SS Mona's Queen 1934 Packet Steamer  Isle of Man
SS King Orry 1946 Packet Steamer  Isle of Man
SS Mona's Queen 1946 Packet Steamer  Isle of Man
TSS Tynwald 1947 Packet Steamer  Isle of Man
TSS Snaefell 1948 Packet Steamer  Isle of Man
SS Mona's Isle 1950 Packet Steamer  Isle of Man
TSS Manxman 1955 Packet Steamer  Isle of Man
TSS Manx Maid 1962 Packet Steamer  Isle of Man
SS Ben-my-Chree 1965 Packet Steamer  Isle of Man
SS Nesbit Grammer 1923 Canaller  United States

See also


  • Bruce, J Graeme (1968). Tube Trains Under London. London Transport Board. 
  • Taylor, Mike (2006). Tugs and towing barges on the Humber Waterways. Tempus Publishing.  


  1. ^ a b Cammell Laird closure to end Mersey Shipbuilding The Independent, 3 December 1992
  2. ^ a b Liverpool Museums
  3. ^ Bruce 1968, pp. 36-38.
  4. ^ Bruce 1968, p. 41.
  5. ^ a b Bruce 1968, pp. 44-45.
  6. ^ Taylor 2006, pp. 56-57.
  7. ^ Office of Fair Trading
  8. ^ Ocean Liner Museum
  9. ^ "Wirral Waters scheme", Planning (UK), 12 January 2007
  10. ^ a b Cammell Laird name returns to the Mersey Liverpool Daily Post., 24 October 2007
  11. ^ Neil Hodgson (17 November 2008). "Cammell Laird name returns on River Mersey".  
  12. ^ Shipyard wins new naval contract BBC News, 29 February 2008
  13. ^ "Cammell Laird wins £50m Royal Navy warship contract".  
  14. ^ "Shipbuilding to return to Cammell Laird for first time in 20 years in multi-million pound Western Ferries deal".  
  15. ^ "Western Ferries". Cammell Laird. Retrieved 22 June 2013. 

External links

  • Cammell Laird Ship Repairers and Shipbuilders LimitedOfficial site
  • Cammell Laird: Shipbuilders to the World (1824 - 1993)
  • Wirral Archives Service
  • Cammell Laird Football Club
  • 1909 Map of Cammell Laird Docks
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