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Yarrow Shipbuilders
Former type Public
Fate Merged with others to form Marconi Marine
Successor BAE Systems
Founded 1865
Defunct 1985
Headquarters Govan, UK
Industry Shipbuilding

Yarrow (Shipbuilders), Limited (YSL), often styled as simply Yarrows, was a major shipyard, now part of BVT Surface Fleet, a joint venture between BAE Systems and VT Group, which also includes the nearby Govan shipyard. The shipyard is located in the Scotstoun district of Glasgow, Scotland on the River Clyde.



The company was founded by Alfred Yarrow, later Sir Alfred Yarrow, 1st Baronet, in the 1865 as Yarrow & Company, Limited.[1] Originally it was based on the Isle of Dogs in London, where hundreds of steam launches, lake and river vessels, and eventually the Royal Navy's first destroyers were built between 1869 and 1908. Yarrow was also a builder of boilers, and a type of water-tube boiler developed by the company was known as the "Yarrow type boiler", first used in a torpedo boat in 1887.[2]

Launch of HMS Daring, a Type 45 destroyer from the former YSL yard, now BAE Systems.

Despite a move of yards, Yarrows outgrew its Poplar site and this and the cost of land and labour in London led to a second move to Scotstoun, Glasgow beginning in 1906.[1] Between 4,000 and 5,000 tons of material had to be transported, from models to heavy machine tools. A train-load of from forty to fifty wagons left the works at Poplar every day. The first destroyer was launched from the new works at Scotstoun on July 14, 1908.[3] The company also established the Coventry Ordnance Works joint venture in 1905, building a large factory adjacent to its Scotstoun Shipyard in 1910.

The Yarrow company was one of the world's leading builders of destroyers from its inception until after World War 2, building ships for both the Royal Navy and export customers. For many years until the 1960s Yarrow also built merchant ships, specialising particularly on vessels for the rivers and lakes of Burma, India, Africa and South America. In total Yarrow built approximately 400 ships on the Clyde - these can be traced in detail in the Clyde-built Ship Database.

Then in 1968 the Company became part of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders[4] which collapsed in 1971.[5]

In 1977 the Labour government of James Callaghan passed the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act 1977 which nationalised the company, by now known as Yarrow (Shipbuilders), Limited, and grouped it with other major British shipyards as British Shipbuilders.[6] The succeeding government of Margaret Thatcher began a privatisation programme and Yarrow was one of British Shipbuilder's early divestitures. It was sold in 1985 to GEC's GEC-Marconi division, becoming Marconi Marine (YSL).[6] In 1999 Marconi Electronic Systems was sold to British Aerospace, creating BAE Systems. Marconi Marine (YSL) became BAE Systems Marine (YSL).[6] As of 2008, YSL is now part of BVT Surface Fleet, a BAE Systems/VT Group joint venture.

Ships built by Yarrow


Built in London

  • PS Aotea (later renamed PS Waimarie) 1899 - restored and operating in Wanganui, New Zealand
  • SS (later MV) Wairua -1904- restored and operating in Wanganui, New Zealand
  • SS (later MV) waione - 1898? - scrapped in 1960s
  • SS (later MV) ohura - 1898? - wrecked and later scrapped
  • MV ongarue - 1903 - awaiting restoration, Wanganui
  • SS (later MV) Waiora - 1904 - sunk on the river in Wanganui
  • River class destroyers
    • HMS Teviot 1903
    • HMS Usk 1903
    • HMS Ribble 1904
    • HMS Welland 1904
    • HMS Gala 1905
    • HMS Garry 1905

Built in Glasgow


Note: Ships without hull numbers were built for another company before BC Ferries.

  • Hull Unknown Pender Queen - 1923 Built as MV Motor Princess and served the Canadian Pacific Railway Company.
  • Hull Unknown Salt Spring Queen - 1949 Built as the MV Delta Princess and crossed the fraser river where the George Massey Tunnel is now.
  • Hull Unknown MV Kwuna - 1975
  • Hull 371 Queen of Cowichan - 1976
  • Hull 550 Queen of Oak Bay - 1981
  • Clyde-class RNLI lifeboats
    • Charles H Barrett (70-001)
    • Grace Paterson Ritchie (70-002)


  1. ^ a b University of Glagow Archive Service: Yarrow Shipbuilders
  2. ^ Barnes, Eleanor C.,Alfred Yarrow: His Life and Work, P126, Kessinger Publishing, 2005, ISBN 1417952636
  3. ^ Bridges, T.C, Kings of commerce, P286, Ayer Publishing, 1928, ISBN 0836901029
  4. ^ Government's shipbuilding crisis BBC News, 1 January 2002
  5. ^ Parliamentary debates Hansard, 4 June 1971
  6. ^ a b c What do you know about Govan? Evening News

External links


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