Shackleton Centenary Expedition

Sir William Beardmore (Baron Invernairn) 1856 - 1936 January 20 2008


Here is another article by Matthew Beardmore-Gray, chronicling his great-great Uncle's achievements. Sir William Beardmore was one of the key financiers to the Nimrod Expedition, and it's great to have Matthew on our Fundraising Committee one hundred years later.
Matthew writes:

'Engineer and shipbuilder. Born at Greenwich (England), eldest son of another William Beardmore (1825-77). Educated at Glasgow High School and Ayr Academy, he continued his studies at Anderson's Institute (Glasgow) and in London. Beardmore became an apprentice in his father's Parkhead Forge (Glasgow).

After his father died, Beardmore took his place as partner in a successful engineering business, which made boilers for a thriving railway and ship-building industry. In 1899, he was able to buy a ship-yard at Govan on the Clyde, which he soon built into the largest industrial concern in Scotland, with more than 40,000 employees.

Further expansion followed, taking over the Arroll Johnston vehicle plant and the Mossend Steel Works, along with a new shipyard at Dalmuir (Clydebank). Beardmore became a major armaments supplier in the years leading up the First World War, building everything from battleships, to submarines, tanks and aircraft.

After the war, warship production was augmented by the construction of liners, cargo vessels, railway locomotives, motor vehicles, aircraft and marine engines. Beardmore was also responsible for the R-34 airship, built at Inchinnan, which flew the first double-crossing of the Atlantic. However, various other ventures were unsuccessful and the company was found to be almost bankrupt by the late 1920s. It continued on a reduced scale, initially under Sir James Lithgow (1883-1952), but was finally wound-up in 1975. Parkhead Works was demolished and 'The Forge' shopping centre built on the site.

Beardmore made his home at Flichity House (Highland), with its 1215 ha (3000 acre) sporting estate. He also rented Tullichewan House in Alexandria, near Glasgow.

Beardmore sponsored Shackleton's 1907 Antarctic expedition, resulting in one of the world's largest glaciers being named after him. He was created a Baronet in 1914 and raised to the peerage as Lord Invernairn (1921). With no children, he died at Flichity, where he was buried.'

The picture used was taken from the Glasgow Digital Library Red Clydeside project, part of Strathclyde University. They call him one of the key political figures of 1920s Glasgow.

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