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Caird Shipyard

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Caird & Co began in 1890, as a family firm in Greenock, operating initially as an iron foundry, developing into general and marine engineering.

James Tennant Caird joined the family business in 1833, which later moved into shipbuilding following the acquisition of the Cartsdyke yard in 1842. Together with shipbuilding, the yard was also involved in the construction of a number of locomotives for Scottish railway companies. The company became Caird & Co Ltd in 1888, and was acquired by Harland & Wolff Ltd of Belfast in 1916, but was still known as Caird's until 1922. Lord Pirre, Head of Harland & Wolff, began an expansion programme for Caird's yard, involving the removal of the Old West Kirk and its adjacent burial ground which contained the remains of Mary (Margaret) Campbell, better known as Robert Burns' Highland Mary, and memorialised in a famous statue which overlooks the Clyde from Castle Hill, above Dunoon. The shipbuilding magnate got his way, even succeeding in blocking a Parliamentary Bill, and the Old West Kirk was removed and rebuilt, stone by stone, on a new site, and the remains of Mary Campbell were similarly removed and re-interred.

Unfortunately, Lord Pirrie died in 1924, and with him went the expansion plan. Caird's former engine works in Arthur Street had already been sold in 1919, and the Cartsdyke yard ceased production in 1928. Sold sold to National Shipbuilding Security Ltd, London, in 1935, the yard finally went into voluntary liquidation in 1937.

The yard stood empty and abandoned until World War II, when it was taken over and utilised by Scottish Aviation Ltd, as part of RAF Greenock, the Flying Boat Maintenance Unit (FBMU) formed there in 1940.

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