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Alexander Stephen

Mitchell Library, The Bailie

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Keywords: Alexander Stephen & Sons, Kelvinhaugh Shipyard, Linthouse Shipyard, shipbuilders, shipbuilding, shipyards

Alexander Stephen (1833-1899), shipbuilder at Kelvinhaugh and Linthouse.

In 1853 Alexander Stephen, a shipbuilder in Dundee, opened a shipyard at Kelvinhaugh. His sons James and Alexander took over the management of the new yard in 1858 but James subsequently left the business. In 1868, with the lease at Kelvinhaugh about to expire and with the need to build a new shipyard to meet Alexander Stephen & Sons' growing order book, Alexander Jnr acquired the Linthouse estate and opened a new yard there the following year.

The first ship was launched at Linthouse in 1870, and the yard's engine and boiler works were completed the following year. The old mansion on the 18-acre estate was converted to serve as offices and later (during the First World War) as a canteen building. Stephens' built tenement houses nearby for 120 men and their families: the famous Govan Rent Strike of 1915 began there.

During the 1880s, Alexander brought his sons Alexander Jnr and Frederic into the business and withdrew from active business life. The firm became famous for cargo and passenger liners and for a lucrative sideline in banana boats. Its name had a less happy association with the Daphne Disaster of 1883, when a steamer capsized after its launch from the yard, and 124 workers lost their lives.

Reference: Mitchell Library, GC 920.04 BAI

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Archives



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