Scotland politics

Timeline: History of Ferguson Shipbuilding

Situated on the hub of the Clyde it was once a bustling hive of activity, with the din of riveting echoing throughout the surrounding area.

But it has been announced that Ferguson shipyard has gone into administration after 100 years in business.

For many men it was their first port of call after leaving school, having followed their fathers into the yard, but financial troubles over recent years has forced redundancy on almost all of the company's 300-strong workforce.

We look back at the history of the Ferguson yard and its Port Glasgow base.


In March 1903, Ferguson Shipbuilders leases the Newark Shipyard in Port Glasgow for £500 a year and secures its first order for two steam tugs.

Peter Ferguson had already co-founded shipbuilding firm Fleming and Ferguson in 1877, which he left to start up Ferguson with his three brothers Daniel, Louts and Robert.


The company is purchased by John Slater Ltd. (Amalgamated Industries), but returned to the control of the Ferguson family in the late 1920s.


After the death of Bobby Ferguson in 1954, Lithgow's Ltd. buy a minority interest in the company.


Lithgow's gain full control of the company and it remains within the Lithgow group as a separate entity until 1977.


The Company is nationalised and subsumed into British Shipbuilders.


The yard amalgamates with the Ailsa yard at Troon, forming Ferguson-Ailsa within British Shipbuilders.


Ferguson is sold to the Greenock engineers Clark Kincaid, becoming part of the HLD Group.


Holland House pays £4.9m for the Ferguson Marine.


Ninety new jobs are created after Ferguson wins a £17m contract.

Image copyright Getty Images


  • June - Row breaks out

Ferguson loses out on two contracts to a rival Polish firm - one for CalMac for £9.5m, the other for a new fisheries protection vessel for the Scottish Executive.

It is forced to lay off 34 temporary workers.

The company complains of "unfair advantage", arguing the Polish firm is using subsidies to undercut the competition. SNP MSPs and the Scottish Office call for an investigation, but Fisheries Minster Ross Finnie argues there is no grounds for one.

First Minster Jack McConnell says European procurement rules don't allow "preferential treatment" to be shown towards a Scottish shipyard.

  • August

As the contract is officially awarded to Polish yard Remontowa, Labour MSP Trish Goodman says it is a "black day" for workers at Ferguson.

Ferguson says it has had to lay off about 100 workers.

SNP MEP Alyn Smith expresses his concern about the future of the yard.

The European Commission launches an inquiry into how the Polish shipyard was able to undercut Ferguson's bid.

  • October

Ferguson is thrown a lifeline when Western Ferries places a £500,000 order for a roll on/roll off terminal.

  • November

Ferguson wins a multi-million pound ferry order from Caledonian MacBrayne.


It's claimed that up to 99 of the 126 remaining Ferguson staff are to be made redundant.

Unions seek the intervention of the Scottish Executive, arguing that it should immediately award Ferguson the contract to build a £14m fisheries vessel.

The company insists the shipyard will be staying open and says it hopes to transfer staff to BAE Systems at Scotstoun and Devon.


The shipyard clinches a £22m deal to build the world's first hybrid-powered ferries, beating off intense competition from European yards.

Creating about 100 jobs, the contract is described as "groundbreaking" by managing director Richard Deane.

Image copyright Thomas Nugent


Ferguson shipyard launches MV Hallaig, the first of two pioneering "hybrid" ferries.

It is the first commercial ship in more than five years to be fully built and delivered on the Clyde, and follows an investment of more than £20m from the Scottish government.


Second hybrid ferry MV Lochinvar launches.

15 August 2014 - Ferguson goes bust

Ferguson shipbuilder in Port Glasgow goes into receivership with the loss of up to 77 jobs - 70 are made redundant with immediate effect.

Staff at Ferguson shipyard in Port Glasgow are only notified after turning up for work that morning.

GMB official Alex Logan said staff are "shocked and stunned": "We've had an idea since before the summer that something was going on but have been unable to get any information from the management," he says.

"We thought that maybe the yard was going to be sold but there was no indication it was going to close."

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