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Renfrew - The Royal Burgh



 Industry in Renfrew



Simons and Lobnitz  -  Shipbuilders

William Simons and Company began business in Greenock in1810, moved to  Canada in 1812, returned to Greenock in 1818 and finally settled in Renfrew in 1860. It pioneered the development of a tool for deepening and clearing the river bed and its inventor was a Mr. Andrew Brown who became a director of the company. In 1959 Simons joined forces with Lobnitz and the following year these two companies became part of G & J Weir & Company of Cathcart, world famous pump makers. Together the combined  workforce amounted to two thousand men. In 1964 the business became part of A & J Stephens of Linthouse but by 1969 it had disappeared.

During World War 11 Lobnitz, apart from shipbuilding, designed and built 'Mulberry Harbours',  with piers to take men, tanks and heavy guns and other equipment ashore. Each weighed about a thousand tons. The harbours were tested for a year on the Solway Firth and brought into use by the military, one being put in place on  a Normandy  beach codenamed Gold Beach, the nearest towns being  Arromanches and Port en Bessin,  just after the Allied landings on D-Day [June 6th 1944]..  It was seriously damaged in a storm [19-22 June] but  was still useable

The Queen Mary 

[Many Renfrew people helped to build her, my father and uncles among them]

[Published courtesy of Renfrewshire Council,  Education and Leisure Services]

Babcock and Wilcox

In 1897 a Clydebank boiler making company with a workforce of 1000 men and needing larger premises, moved to Porterfield Road, Renfrew. The company grew over the years providing Renfrew with stable employment. Today the total workforce numbers in the region of  6000 people in Renfrew with the Company employing 16000 people in Britain and more overseas. Today they manufacture nuclear plant and equipment and many other engineering products. The company's Research Station employs about 300 people and is involved in chemical, and metallurgical analysis. 

Scottish Cables

Founded by William Fraser in 1938 the present company is part of BICC and manufactures electrical cables

Hillington Industrial Estate

In 1937 the Industrial Estate at Hillington was opened, bringing many companies like Rolls Royce to the area and again providing Renfrew with  opportunities for employment..

Renfrew Airport and Coats Mill in Paisley provided more jobs for Renfrew people as did the shipyards in Clydebank and Govan and the  many shops, offices and small factories nearby.


[Crane photograph courtesy of  Freefoto.com]


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                                                                                        Margaret Andrew Halsey 2003  All Rights Reserved