RUSSELL

MESSRS. RUSSELL AND CO.'S SHIPYARD, KINGSTON, N.B.'

It has happened that the comparatively young firm of Russell and Co. turned out last year the greatest tonnage of all the shipbuilding yards in the United Kingdom. It is the characteristic of rapid growth which chiefly distinguishes this Clyde shipbuilding firm.... Not that it is without other claims upon our attention. On the contrary, it is doubtful whether any other shipbuilders on the Clyde have done more towards systematising and economising methods of work, and thereby reducing the first cost of ships, than have the firm of Russell & Co. It is further doubtful whether any other firm in the United Kingdom has achieved greater success in the designing of remunerative sailing vessels....

 

The firm of Russell and Co. consists of three partners, viz., Messrs. Joseph Russell, Anderson Rodger, and W.T. Lithgow... .

 

These gentlemen started at the Bay Yard in Port Glasgow, and in their first year of business they turned out 2000 tons. This was not a bad beginning in those days, but it is yet small enough to place in startling contrast with the 70,000 tons turned out by Messrs. Russell and Co., in 1890.

 

The shipyard of Mr. J.E. Scott at Greenock becoming vacant in 1879, the firm took possession of it and made it their headquarters, carrying on the Port Glasgow Yard at the same time. Not content with these developments, they determined to add ship repairing to shipbuilding, and in 1881 the firm took a lease of the Port Glasgow dry dock. This graving dock is one of the oldest on the Clyde, and was extensively used for the survey and repair of Glasgow shipping long before there was any dry dock at all in the upper reaches of the Clyde. It is still a commodious dock, and receives all but the largest class steamers.

 

The firm was still bent upon expansion, and a third yard was added to the concern, the new one being about midway between the others, and larger than either. The Kingston Yard, as it is named, is now the headquarters of the firm; and as might be supposed, the experience acquired in the other two was utilised in planning its arrangements. Both in regard to the relative positions of machinery, workshops, and building berths, as in the quality of the machinery itself, and the arrangement and fittings of the offices, little or nothing is capable of improvement in these ever-busy premises.

2 N.B.                                                 - stands for 'North Britain' which was a common name for Scotland in the 19th century

Shipbuilding was started upon these works in 1883, and from that time until now its five berths have always been occupied with vessels in a more or less advanced stage of construction,. . .

 

So rapid has been the growth of the firm, and so actively have they been employed, that in the sixteen years of their existence they had turned out at the close of the year 1890 no less than 252 vessels of 387,778 tons.

The following tabulated statement shows the tonnage built by Russell and Co. in each year from 1875 to 1890, inclusive:­

Year

Tons

Year

Tons

1875

2,044

1883

30,610

1876

2,967

1884

32,120

1877

3,351

1885

40,866

1878

6,883

1886

29,843

1879

4,200

1887

27,033

1880

10,201

1888

45,495

1881

14,640

1889

46,500

1882

20,655

1890

70,370

 

As already remarked, Messrs Russell and Co. have chiefly distinguished themselves as builders of sailing vessels; but it is only right to state that, especially during recent years, they have turned their attention largely to steamers also. Indeed, besides building a great many cargo steamers of the three-deck, spar-deck, well-deck, and other types, they have the credit of producing several of that troublesome class to shipbuilders - steamers for carrying mineral oil in bulk. Latterly they have even taken to building fast river steamers.

 

This enterprising firm will, in fact, build anything in the shape of a ship that may be ordered of them; but, all the same, it is as designers and builders of iron and steel sailing vessels that they have mainly earned their reputation. No other shipbuilding firm in the world can approach them in the amount produced of this description of tonnage. Many builders who have won renown for their Atlantic, East Indian, and Australian liners would find much worth studying in the designs and arrangements of the commercially successful sailing vessels turned out in such large numbers every year by the firm of Russell and Co.

 

The Engineer, 4 September, 1891

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