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D & W Henderson, Shipbuilders and Marine Engineers, Meadowside, Glasgow

By Professor Hugh Murphy, Honorary Professor in Economic and Social History, University of Glasgow

Kelvin Confluence

Google Earth 3D satellite image of the site of Meadowside Shipyard on the confluence of the Kelvin and Clyde Rivers. Google 2017.

Looking today at the River Kelvin at its confluence with the Clyde, the onlooker may be unaware of the distinguished shipbuilding history of this area. As the University Archives Service works towards its interpretation of the centenary of the founding of the Royal Air Force in 2018, one of its instrumental founders was Lt General David Henderson, who served as General Officer Commanding the Royal Flying Corps in France, during the first year of the Great War, and who served briefly as Vice President of the Air Council early in 1918.

Henderson came from a ship-owning family. His father, David Henderson, was part-owner of the D & W Henderson shipyard at Meadowside on the Upper Clyde. Here follows a potted history of this establishment, which may interest those researching Lt General Henderson’s varied life and career.


Jutland centenary: treating the wounded

By Dr Jen Novotny, Research Assistant in History, University of Glasgow


HMS Falmouth, built by William Beardmore & Co, University of Glasgow Archives reference UGD100/7/3/7

This post looks at how medics at Jutland treated battle casualties, contending not only with complex injuries, but having to manoeuvre through confined spaces aboard ships.



Jutland centenary: building the fleet

By Dr Jen Novotny, University of Glasgow

On 31 May, the national commemorations of the Battle of Jutland will take place in Orkney. It highlights Scotland’s contribution to the First World War at sea: particularly the great ships constructed along the Clyde and the strategically important harbours of Rosyth and Scapa, from which the fleets of Admirals Beatty and Jellicoe set sail to meet their German counterparts. This post explores the contributions of Scottish industry and the labour tensions that simmered on the home front while war continued to be waged on land and sea.

Beardmore _19.jpg

Naval guns produced by William Beardmore’s Parkhead Forge, University of Glasgow reference UGD100/1/11/3



Jutland centenary: understanding the battle

By Dr Jen Novotny, Research Assistant in History, University of Glasgow


HMS Galatea, the first ship to spot signs of the German fleet on 31 May 1916. University of Glasgow Archives Reference: UGD100/1/11/8

One hundred years ago on 31 May, the British Grand Fleet met the German High Seas Fleet in the most important naval battle of the First World War. One hundred and fifty ships of the Royal Navy met 99 German ships in the North Sea – 100,000 sailors manoeuvring the might of the world’s two most advanced navies in the only full-scale naval engagement of the First World War.


The Battle of Jutland

By Dr Jen Novotny, Research Assistant, Glasgow University’s Great War Project

Today we mark the 99th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, the only full-scale naval battle of the First World War, which saw Admiral Jellicoe’s Grand Fleet meet the German High Seas Fleet in the North Sea on 31st May 1916. While the losses of ships were comparable, the Allied fleet suffered the greatest loss of personnel. The impact of the battle on the war has been debated by historians, but it is agreed that the battle failed to shift the balance of power and the Royal Navy remained dominant; the High Seas Fleet spent the rest of the war bottled up in the Baltic, unwilling to risk another costly engagement. Instead, Germany’s naval strategy for the North Sea and Atlantic concentrated on U-boat action.

Jutland: Glasgow’s Contribution

It is worth highlighting just some of the many connections between the battle and the West of Scotland: the Clydebuilt ships at Jutland that were the work of the men and women of the industrial sector, as well as looking at several individuals who fought in the battle. The First World War is so often spoken of in statistics – numbers that tend towards hyperbole and become meaningless. It is useful to personalise these numbers, contextualising the Battle of Jutland by evoking places with which we are familiar and learn about persons with whom we can identify.

Clydebuilt ships at Jutland

There were a number of Clydebuilt ships at the battle, including the Queen Elizabeth-class battleship HMS Barham, and battlecruisers HMS Tiger and HMS Inflexible built by John Brown Engineering at Clydebank. William Denny & Brothers of Dumbarton produced the destroyers HMS Petard, HMS Ardent, and the HMS Engadine, the seaplane carrier from which the first heavier-than-air reconnaissance flight during a naval battle was launched.


Contract for Ardent. University of Glasgow Archives Reference: UGD003/5/501

Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company of Greenock produced the HMS Colossus, flagship of Rear-Admiral Ernest Gaunt, while Alexander Stephen & Sons in Govan built the destroyer HMS Nomad.