Scott’s of Bowling, History of the Clydeside Shipyard by Alistair Baird

The fascinating story of Scott’s and Sons, Bowling Shipbuilders

Scott and Sons Bowling Ltd was an important shipyard on the River Clyde, which made a major contribution to the industrial and social history of the area. With its reputation for the quality and reliability of its workmanship, the view was  held that apprentices who served their time at Scott’s could go on to work anywhere.  Alistair Baird was one such apprentice; he has fond memories of his time working at the yard and has undertaken extensive, and ongoing, research to build a website dedicated to the people who worked their and the ships built.  It is a fascinating site with wonderful images, details of the ships constructed at the yard plus  stories which capture the experiences of the workers.

stories_splashUnofficial Tea Breaks

‘Riveters fires were very popular, not just as a source of heat, but to boil tea cans and toast sandwiches. ‘Boys’ were given the task of making the tea and could be seen carrying a pole on their shoulder with two or three cans, front and back. This was a particularly hazardous task during the unofficial tea breaks in the morning and afternoon. While management tended to turn a blind eye to tea breaks, from time to time they would assert their authority and the cans would go flying. There was a practice that was common in all of the yards to warn men when a gaffer was coming , which was to tap your head, signifying that a ‘hat’ was coming.’

Alistair Baird


If you have any stories about the yard or photographs please get in touch with email Alistair

A bit of history

Shipbuilding at Bowling began around 1800 when the McGill brothers established a yard at the Forth and Clyde Canal basin. During the period 1800 to 1847 McGill’s built approximately 40 ships. By the late 1840’s the McGill’s joined forces with James Scott to form Scott & McGill, which became Scott and Sons in 1851. Between 1851 and 1979 Scott’s built in excess of 450 vessels. Scott’s was incorporated as a limited liability company in 1958 and traded for the first time as Scott & Sons (Bowling) Ltd . In 1965, the company was taken over, at it own invitation, by Scott’s Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd of Greenock. It subsequently became part of the Scott Lithgow Group following the 1970 merger of Scott’s Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd and Lithgows Ltd, Port Glasgow. Work at the Yard ended in 1979.

The Ship Yard Trust – Support For The Venture

This section: Shipbuilding on the Clyde

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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