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William Beardmore and Company

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Title: William Beardmore and Company  
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Subject: British Tanker Company, Beardmore Inflexible, Beardmore W.B.XXVI, Lord Nelson-class battleship, Beardmore 120 hp
Collection: Aviation in Scotland, Companies Based in Glasgow, Companies Established in 1887, Defunct Aircraft Engine Manufacturers of the United Kingdom, Defunct Aircraft Manufacturers of the United Kingdom, Defunct Companies of Scotland, Defunct Shipbuilding Companies of the United Kingdom, Engineering Companies of Scotland, History of Glasgow, Locomotive Manufacturers of the United Kingdom, Marine Engine Manufacturers, Motor Vehicle Engine Manufacturers, Motor Vehicle Manufacturers of Scotland, Motorcycle Manufacturers of the United Kingdom, Shipbuilding Companies of Scotland, Taxicab Companies, Taxicabs of the United Kingdom, Vintage Vehicles, William Beardmore and Company Locomotives
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William Beardmore and Company

William Beardmore and Company, Ltd.
Limited company
Industry Steelmaking, heavy engineering, shipbuilding, locomotive building, ordnance manufacture, automotive, aviation
Fate dissolved
Founded 1887
Defunct 1983 (Closure of Parkhead Forge)
Headquarters Parkhead, Glasgow
Dalmuir, Clydebank
Key people
William Beardmore
Products Oil Tankers, Naval ships, Steam locomotives, Fixed-wing aircraft, Airships, Automobiles, Motorcycles

William Beardmore and Company was a Scottish engineering and shipbuilding conglomerate based in Glasgow and the surrounding Clydeside area. It was active from 1886 to the mid-1930s and at its peak employed about 40,000 people. It was founded and owned by William Beardmore, later Lord Invernairn, after whom the Beardmore Glacier was named.


  • History 1
    • Forged steel castings, armour plate and naval guns 1.1
    • Shipbuilding 1.2
      • Merchant ships 1.2.1
    • Railway locomotives 1.3
    • Aviation 1.4
      • Aircraft 1.4.1
        • Own designs
        • Licensed designs
        • Aircraft Engine
      • Airships 1.4.2
    • Road vehicles 1.5
    • Cars and taxis 1.6
    • Motorcycles 1.7
    • Diesel Engines 1.8
  • Decline and demise 2
    • Dalmuir Shipyard 2.1
    • Parkhead Forge 2.2
  • Archives 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


Forged steel castings, armour plate and naval guns

The Parkhead Forge, in the east end of Glasgow, would become the core of the company. It was established by Reoch Brothers & Co in 1837 and was later acquired by

  • Beardmore Diesel-Electric Train
  • Beardmore Precision motorcycle
  • Clyde-built ships database
  • The Jaimes Caird Society

External links

  • Hurst, K A, (2003). William Beardmore: Transport is the Thing, Edinburgh: NMSE Publishing, ISBN 1-901663-53-1
  • Johnson, Ian, (1993). Beardmore Built: The Rise and Fall of a Clydeside Shipyard. Clydebank: Clydebank District Libraries & Museums Department. ISBN 0-906938-05-8
  • R.D. Thomas, B. Patterson, Dreadnoughts in Camera 1905-1920, 1998, Sutton Publishing
  • John R Hume & Michael S Moss Beardmore: the History of a Scottish Industrial Giant Heinemann ISBN 0-435-32589-2
  • C A N May, Shelsey Walsh G T Foulis
  • Nick Georgano A History of the London Taxi David and Charles 1972 ISBN 0-7153-5687-9
  • Bill Munro London Taxis: a Full History Earlswood Press 2011 ISBN 978-0-9562308-2-9.
  • Mac Kay, Charles, "Beardmore Aviation 1913 - 1930" A.MacKay 2012 ISBN 978-0-9573443-0-3

Further reading

  • Boddy, M. G.; Brown, W. A.; Fry, E. V.; Hennigan, W.;  
  • Hughes, Hugh (1979). Steam locomotives in India: Part 3 – Broad Gauge. Harrow: The Continental Railway Circle.  
  • Hughes, Hugh (1990). Indian Locomotives: Part 1 – Broad Gauge 1853–1940. Harrow: The Continental Railway Circle.  
  • Hughes, Hugh (1992). Indian Locomotives: Part 2 – Metre Gauge 1872–1940. Harrow: The Continental Railway Circle.  
  • Hughes, Hugh (1996). Indian Locomotives: Part 4 – 1941–1990. Harrow: The Continental Railway Circle.  
  • Rowledge, JWP (1975). Engines of the LMS built 1923–51. Oxford: Oxford Publishing Company.  
  1. ^ a b c d e "Industries: Beardmore". The Clydebank Story. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  2. ^ "Tom McKendrick's sculpture of HMS Ramillies" (movie). AND / OR Productions. Retrieved 2008-09-24. 
  3. ^ Hughes 1979, p. 54.
  4. ^ Boddy et al. 1975, p. 66.
  5. ^ Hughes 1992, pp. 48, 50.
  6. ^ Hughes 1979, pp. 62, 65.
  7. ^ Hughes 1979, pp. 66, 71.
  8. ^ Hughes 1990, p. 32.
  9. ^ Hughes 1979, p. 72.
  10. ^ Hughes 1990, p. 81.
  11. ^ Rowledge 1975, p. 17.
  12. ^ Rowledge 1975, p. 23.
  13. ^ Hughes 1979, p. 35.
  14. ^ Hughes 1990, p. 84.
  15. ^ Hughes 1996, p. 87.
  16. ^ a b c Hughes 1979, p. 32.
  17. ^ Hughes 1990, p. 78.
  18. ^ "Those people made a good locomotive", David A. Hamley, Trains Magazine, December, 1969.
  19. ^ Austro-Daimlers in EnglandFlight, 1 November 1913
  20. ^ [2]Flight, 6 November 1914, p. 1099
  21. ^ John R Hume & Michael S Moss Beardmore: the History of a Scottish Industrial Giant
  22. ^ C A N May Shelsey Walsh
  23. ^ Various entries for Beardmore in London Motor Show catalogues, 1919 - 1926
  24. ^ a b c Bill Munro London Taxis: a Full History
  25. ^ Milligan and Adams (1999). Albion of Scotstoun. Paisley: Albion Vehicle Preservation Trust. 
  26. ^ a b c d e f g "James Caird Society - Beardmore". James Caird Society. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  27. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34514. pp. 3471–3472. 27 May 1938. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
  28. ^ "Sir Ian MacGregor; Obituary" The Times (London, England) (14 April 1998): 21. InfoTrac Full Text Newspaper Database. Gale. Cheshire Libraries. 16 September 2007


See also

The archives of William Beardmore and Company are maintained by the Archives of the University of Glasgow (GUAS).


[26] After Parkhead Forge was nationalised by the

Ian MacGregor who broke a strike by driving a crane himself for two weeks. James accelerated his career and MacGregor went on himself to be a major industrial figure.[28]

Parkhead Forge

The crisis in the British shipbuilding industry after the First World War resulted in the formation of a company with the purpose of taking control of and eliminating loss-making shipyards to reduce capacity and competition; National Shipbuilders Securities Ltd, under Sir James Lithgow of shipbuilding giant Lithgows, Limited. The former bought Beardmore's Dalmuir yard in 1930 and the yard was closed and its facilities dismantled,[1][26] although various maritime engineering works persisted on the site until 1936. The Dalmuir site was re-established as ROF Dalmuir in 1939 however and was later sold to Babcock and Wilcox in 1957, who continued to operate there until moving to a new site in Renfrew in 1969. During the 1970s the site was converted into the Clydebank Industrial Estate and in recent years has also formed the location of the Golden Jubilee Hospital and the Beardmore Hotel.

Dalmuir Shipyard

Beardmore's various companies became unprofitable in the post-war slump,[26] resulting in the company facing bankruptcy.[26] Financial aid initially came from Vickers Limited, which took a 60% stake in Beardmores,[26] before pulling out in the late 1920s. Beardmore himself was removed from executive control of his company by the Bank of England.[26] Most of Beardmore's various businesses were wound down over the next few years until Beardmore's retirement and death in 1936, although some persisted.[26]

Decline and demise

Although heavy oil engines had been built from the early years of the century for power-generation purposes, a range of automotive diesels was under development at the time of the financial crisis; the Bank of England commissioned consulting engineer Harry Ricardo to assess these and he gave a mostly favourable report, the largest customer for the Dalmuir-built Beardmore Engine was Glasgow Corporation who took 30 6-cylinder 90 bhp engines in Albion Venturer M81 chassis during 1934, but reliability was so poor that by five years later all had been replaced by Leyland 8.6 litre units.[25]

Diesel Engines

Between 1921 and 1924 Beardmore took over building the Precision range of motorcycles that had been developed by Frank Baker, selling them as "Beardmore Precision". Engine sizes ranged from 250 cc to 600 cc. They also supplied the engines to several cyclecar manufacturers. After Beardmore stopped manufacture, Baker set up his own company again and restarted production.


After the Second World War, Beardmore Motors sold and serviced the new Nuffield Oxford cab, until the newly formed British Motor Corporation axed it in favour of their own Austin FX3. Beardmore Motors then returned to making their own cabs. The model they introduced, in 1954 was the Mk7 Paramount, which had a traditional style coachbuilt body, of aluminium panels over an ash frame, built by Windover. The engine was from a Mk1 Ford Consul, (later, a Mk2 Consul and finally a Ford Zephyr 4) but a Perkins 4.99 diesel was offered from 1956. In the same year, body production was taken over by Weymann at Addlestone. Production of the entire cab was soon moved there. In 1966, when Metropolitan-Cammell bought Weymann, taxi production was moved to MCW's factory at Washwood Heath, Birmingham, where it ended in late 1966. Final production of the Mk7 amounted to just over 650 cabs.[24]

Following the removal of William Beardmore from the board of his company in 1929, Beardmore Motors was bought out by its directors, and taxi production was moved from Scotland to Hendon, North London. Here in 1932 a new model, the Mk4 Paramount was introduced, which was essentially an updated Mk3 with a 2-litre Commer engine and gearbox. In 1935, the Mk5 Paramount Ace, with a new, longer wheelbase chassis was introduced, with the same engine. It was followed in 1938 by the Mk6 Ace, which had detail refinements. The 1930s Beardmore became known as the 'greengrocer's barrow', because 'all the best things were in front'![24]

Production of the Beardmore Taxi began at Paisley in 1919 with what became known retrospectively as the Mk1. This was designed to meet the Metropolitan Police Conditions of Fitness for London Taxis. It was a very tough and reliable vehicle and it earned itself the name of 'The Rolls-Royce of taxicabs'. A car version, the Country and Colonial model was also made, as was a light van. It was replaced in 1923 by the Mk2, which had an all-new chassis, which it shared with a new range of light trucks and buses. Following a change in the Conditions of Fitness, Beardmore introduced a new model, the Mk3 'Hyper'. This had a smaller, 2-litre sidevalve engine and was lighter and more economical to run.[24]

The Anniesland factory was closed by 1925 and car production was moved to the taxi factory at Paisley, where a new model, the 14.40, with a sidevalve engine of 2297 cc with an aluminium cylinder head was introduced. The engine was increased to 2391 cc in 1925 and the car redesignated the 16.40. Two standard bodies were offered, the Stewart saloon and the Lomond limousine. A large car, the four cylinder 4072 cc Thirty was made at Coatbridge in 1920 but it was unsuccessful and was discontinued.[23]

Beardmore 12/30 Tourer, 1925
Beardmore 12/30 Tourer, 1925
Manufacturer Beardmore Motors
Model years 1924–25
Assembly Anniesland, Glasgow
Engine Beardmore sohc 4-cylinder petrol, 1589cc, 12HP
Transmission 4-speed manual
Predecessor Beardmore 11hp
Beardmore Mk7 Paramount Taxicab
Beardmore Mk7 Paramount taxi, 4-door model
Manufacturer Beardmore Motors
Model years 1954–66
Assembly Windovers Ltd. Hendon, North London; Weymann, Addlestone, Surrey; MCW, Washwood Heath, Birmingham, later Adderley Park, Birmingham
Body and chassis
Body style London taxi, fixed head
Layout Limousine
Engine Ford Consul (1508 cc or 1703 cc) or Zephyr 4 (1703 cc) 4-cylinder OHV petrol or Perkins 4-cylinder OHV diesel (99 cu in or 108 cu in)
Transmission Ford 3-speed or 4-speed manual
Wheelbase 8ft 8in
Length 13ft 10 1/2in
Width 5ft 6in
Predecessor Beardmore Mk6 taxi

After the Great War, Beardmore manufactured cars and London-type taxis under their own name. The first car was the 1486cc, four-cylinder 11.4, which had a 4-cylinder overhead camshaft (OHC) engine. It was manufactured at Anniesland, Glasgow and introduced at Olympia in 1919. The shaft drive to the camshaft proved to be unreliable and it was replaced by a chain. The engine was increased in capacity to 1854 cc and the car, renamed as the 12/30 was introduced in June 1923. This new engine was used, in 1923 in the new Super Sports. It was priced at £750 and each car came with a certificate that guaranteed that it had been driven around Brooklands track at 70 mph (110 km/h).[21] A highly modified version of the Super Sports, with a 2-litre engine broke the course record at the Shelsley Walsh hill climb in 1924.[22]

Cars and taxis

In 1917, Beardmore bought Sentinel Waggon Works, a manufacturer of steam-powered railway locomotives, railcars and road vehicles. In 1919 a range of cars was announced, to be made by a subsidiary company, Beardmore Motors Ltd, based in factories in Glasgow and the surrounding area; Anniesland, Coatbridge and Paisley.

Beardmore–Precision motorcycle advertisement, 1925

Road vehicles


Aircraft Engine
Licensed designs
Own designs


The Beardmore Inflexible at the Norwich Air Display, RAF Mousehold Heath, May 1929

In 1924, the company acquired a licence for stressed skin construction using the Rohrbach principles. An order for two flying boats using this construction idea was placed with Beardmore. It had the first aircraft built for it by the Rohrbach Metal Aeroplane Company in Copenhagen, building the second itself and they were delivered to the RAF as the Beardmore Inverness. In addition, a large, experimental, all-metal trimotor transport aircraft was designed and built at Dalmuir and delivered to the Royal Air Force as the Beardmore Inflexible. Beardmore produced a line of aircraft engines, including the Cyclone, Meteor, Simoon, Tornado (used in the R101 airship), Typhoon and Whirlwind.

It later built Sopwith Pup aircraft at Dalmuir under licence. Later, a shipborne version of the Pup,the Beardmore W.B.III, was designed by the company. A hundred of these aircraft were produced and delivered to the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). The company built and ran the Inchinnan Airship Constructional Station at Inchinnan in Renfrewshire. It produced the airships R27, R32, R34 and R36.

The company first became involved in aviation in 1913, when it acquired British manufacturing rights for Austro-Daimler aero-engines [19] and later those for D.F.W. aircraft.[20]

N6812, a preserved, Sopwith Camel, built under licence by Beardmore


In concert with US and Canadian Westinghouse, diesel engines were developed and installed for railway self-propelled car use. Canadian National Railways had two articulated cars powered with Beardmore 320 hp engines, eight cars with 185 hp engines, and seven cars with 300 hp engines. Several American railroads had self-propelled cars fitted with Westinghouse engines derived from Beardmore designs.[18]

Year Quantity Customer Class Wheel
100–134 1920 35 East Indian Railway HGS 2-8-0 1520–1554 later all-India 26729–26763.[3]
135–154 1920–21 20 Great Eastern Railway S69 4-6-0 1541–1560
not in order
To LNER 8541–8560 in 1923; renumbered 1541–1560 .[4]
174–263 1921–1922 90 London and North Western Railway Prince of Wales 4-6-0 various to LMS 5755–5844 (not in order) in 1923
264–268 1923 5 Burma Railways Ns 0-6-6-0 16–20 Metre gauge Mallet locomotives.[5]
269–293 1923 25 Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway H
4-6-0 540–564 later all-India 2430–24331.[6]
294–295 1923 2 Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway W
4-6-0 784–785 later all-India 24638–24639.[7]
296–298 1923 3 Eastern Bengal Railway LS
4-6-0 31–33 [8]
299–303 1924 5 North Western Railway HPS 4-6-0 2875–2879 three to Eastern Punjab Railway 2815–2817, later all-India 24400–24402.[9][10]
304 1924 1 Exhibition locomotive Prince of Wales 4-6-0 to LMS 5845.[11]
305–324 1927 20 London and North Eastern Railway N7/3 0-6-2T 2642–2661 Renumbered 9683–9702 in 1946 scheme
325–414 1928–29 90 London, Midland and Scottish Railway 3F 0-6-0T 16600–16624,
Renumbered 7517–7541, 7602–7666.[12]
417–460 1930 44 East Indian Railway XE 2-8-2 2016–2031, 1981–2003, 2032–2036 later all-India 22536–22551, 22501–22523, 22552–22556.[13]
461–486 1930–31 26 North Western Railway XC 4-6-2 1842–1867 1842–51/55/56/58–64/66 to Pakistan at Partition;[14][15] remainder to Eastern Punjab Railway, later all-India 22245–22250.[16]
487–490 1931 4 Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway XC 4-6-2 613–616 later all-India 22241–22245.[16]
491–492 1931 2 East India Railway XC 4-6-2 1948–1949 later all-India 22201–22202.[16]
493–494 1930 2 North Western Railway DL B-B (de) 30–31 350 hp (261 kW). Renumbered 330–331.[17]

An attempt was made during the 1920s to diversify into the manufacture of railway locomotives at Dalmuir. Twenty 4-6-0 tender locomotives were built for the Great Eastern Railway as part of their class S69. Ninety London and North Western Railway Prince of Wales class locomotive were built between 1921 and 1922, along with an extra exhibition locomotive for the LNWR's successor, the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1924. They also built 90 ‘Jinty’ tank engine for the LMS between 1928 and 1929. Beardmore's locomotive production was small compared with the established competition.

Railway locomotives

  • British Commerce, Red Ensign British Tanker Company, (1922)
  • British Enterprise, Red Ensign British Tanker Company, (1921)
  • British Merchant, Red Ensign British Tanker Company, (1922)
  • British Trader, Red Ensign British Tanker Company, (1921)

Beardmore also built oil tankers, including:

Merchant ships

The post war recession hit the firm hard, and the shipyard was forced to close in 1930. Part of the site and some of the existing buildings later became incorporated into ROF Dalmuir, part was used by the General Post Office for their cable-laying ships.

In 1900, Beardmore took over the Dalmuir in west Clydebank; the largest and most advanced shipyard in the United Kingdom at the time.[1] HMS Agamemnon was the yard's first order to complete, in 1906. Beardmore eventually sold the company's Govan shipyard to Harland and Wolff in 1912. Other notable warships produced by Beardmores at Dalmuir include the Dreadnoughts, HMS Conqueror (1911), HMS Benbow (1913) and HMS Ramillies (1917).[2] In 1917 Beardmore completed the aircraft carrier HMS Argus, the first carrier to have a full-length flight deck. Beardmore expanded the activities at Dalmuir to include the manufacture of all sorts or arms and armaments, the site employing 13,000 people at its peak.[1]

British Enterprise, built by Beardmore in 1921


. BL 15 inch Mk I naval gun and BL 9.2 inch gun Mk IX–X, such as the naval guns By this time they had begun the manufacture of steel armour plate and later diversified into the manufacture of heavy [1]

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