William Simons of Renfrew: 1810-1959

William Simons & Company Limited : 1810 – 1959

The old-established firm of William Simons started life in 1810 at the important lower Clyde port of Greenock. William Simon started shipbuilding there in that year, later moved to Canada, then returned to Greenock, from there to Whiteinch, and finally to the famous Yard at Renfrew, on the South bank of the River Clyde, across the river from the Rothesay Dock marshalling yard.

Octopus

1904, Dredger Octopus, Yd No 410. Original Photo supplied to Clydebuilt Database by Stuart Cameron.


In the early years the Firm built small cargo vessels and passenger steamers. Amongst the earliest of the Firm’s constructions was the Frigate 'CONFIANCE', built in 1814 for the British Government which was then at war with the United States.

This was followed by four Gunboats for service on the Canadian Lakes. It was a vessel built at Simons that was the first to be fitted out with wire rigging - the 1851-built ‘William Connal’. In 1861 the Firm built the Paddle Steamer ‘Rothesay Castle’ which attained a speed of 20.25 miles per hour – a remarkable speed for that time. In 1868 the Firm launched the Anchor Line vessel ‘India’ – the first vessel fitted with 4-cylinder compound steam engines to run in the North Atlantic trade. Around this time the Firm also built the first mail steamers for the British India Steam Navigation Company. And the previous year, 1867, they constructed the first steam ferry employed on the River Clyde at Glasgow harbour for both passengers and vehicular traffic.

But it was for its later work that the Firm became most famous – the development of designs for specialist craft much in demand at that time, for the construction of harbours and ports throughout the world. In a partnership with Andrew Brown, William Simon, son of the founder William Simon, the Company set up a small team to come up with detailed designs for ships, engines and machinery to meet the new demand. When William Simons retired from the business in 1886, the Brown family and their descendants continued to run the Company until it around 1957 when it was taken over by an investment group which ultimately led to the merging with the adjacent Yard of Lobnitz & Company Limited, formed under the ownership of G & J Weir of Cathcart, Glasgow.

The Scope of William Simons & Company - 1925
Engineers : Shipbuilders : Dredge Contractors
Barge Loading Dredgers – Non-Propelling
Barge Loading Dredgers – Self-Propelling
Bucket Hopper Dredgers – Bow or Stern Well Type
Pump Hopper Dredgers – Bow or Stern Well Type
Combined Bucket & Pump Hopper Dredgers
Combined Bucket & Pump Stationary Dredgers
Self-Discharging Hopper Dredgers
Drag Suction Hopper Dredgers
Bucket Reclamation Dredgers
Suction & Discharging Pump Reclamation Dredgers
Pontoon Bucket & Pump Dredgers for Canal Work
Rock Dredging Vessels
Drag Line Excavators
Dipper Dredgers
Gold and Tin Mining Dredgers
Steam Hopper Barges
Dumb Hopper Barges
Barges with Hydraulic & Steam Grab Cranes
Tugs
Lighters
Diving Bell Barges
Rock Drill Barges
Engines & Boilers
Wheel Gearing
Buckets, Links and Pins

Simons were Contractors to the Governments of the following countries :

Great Britain, Brasil, Canada, China, Denmark, Holland, Egypt, France, India, Japan, Natal, New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland, Russia, South Australia, Spain, West Australia.

And the following Railway Companies :

Alexandra (Newport & South Wales) Docks & Railway Coy
Buenos Ayres & Rosario Railway Coy
Alcoy & Gandia Railway & Harbour Coy Ltd
Caledonian Railway Coy
Great Western Railway Coy
London, Brighton & South Coast Railway Coy
London & South Western Railway Coy
Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Coy
Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway Coy
North British Railway Coy
North Eastern Railway Coy
Taff Vale Railway Coy

The following listings are compiled in chronological order in lists of generic vessel type, and showing the Year of Build, Name or Unique I.D., Owner or Post :

BARGE LOADING DREDGERS (1866 through 1924)
1866 – Ymudien 1 – Amsterdam
1866 – Ymudien 2 – Amsterdam
1867 – Greenore – Dundalk
1868 – No. 147 – Greenock
1868 – No. 148 – Greenock
1870 – No. 157 – Hartlepool
1870 – No. 159 – Aberdeen
1871 – No. 9 – Clyde
1871 – No. 164 – Dundee
1872 – No. 165 – Stockton
1872 – Fleetwood – Fleetwood
1873 – No. 172 – Newcastle
1875 – Albuquerque – Cochin, China
1876 – Torrens – Adelaide
1878 – Wallaroo – Adelaide
1879 – Bunyip – Melbourne
1879 – No. 5 – Hull
1882 – Clyde – Port Glasgow
1883 – Crocodile – Melbourne
1885 – No. 4 – Aberdeen
1886 – Dolphin – St. Lucia, West Indies
1888 – Barry – Barry
1889 – G. Ward Cole – Melbourne
1889 – F. Henty – Melbourne
1889 – No. 272 – Santos (Brasil)
1892 – No. 305 – Diesterro (Brasil)
1892 – No. 306 – Paranagua (Brasil)
1893 – Avon – Bo’ness
1894 – Volshskaia – Russia
1895 – Walter Glynn – Liverpool
1895 – Ortoire – Trinidad
1896 – Lyster – Liverpool
1896 – St. Ives – Portsmouth
1896 – St. Austell – Devonport
1897 – B.D. 2 – Bristol
1898 – Victor Augustinovitch – Cherson
1898 – Goustav Bole – Windau
1898 – Fedor Enrold – St. Petersburg
1898 – Alexander Golovatcheff – Odessa
1899 – Vtoroi – Talienwan
1899 – Pervi – Talienwan
1899 – Andei Stempinsky – Libau
1900 – Success – East London
1901 – Michail Lissovsky – Nicolaieff
1901 – Ibaraki – Japan
1901 – Dredger No. 1 – Cronstadt
1901 – Zuiho – Keelung
1902 – Dredger No. 7 – Newcastle-on-Tyne
1902 – Dredger No. 397 – Japan
1903 – Dredger No. 405 – Japan
1903 – Craigiehall – Glasgow
1904 – Octopus – Bombay
1906 – No. 428 – India
1906 – No. 429 – India
1906 – No. 437 – India
1907 – The Crab – Penang
1907 – Espana – Bilbao
1907 – Premier – London
1909 – Hydra No. 6 – Singapore
1910 – Mastodon – Canada
1912 – Robert Vassall – Taff Vale
1913 – No. 535 – Not Known
1913 – Charles Harrison – Not Known
1913 – No. 1 – Russia
1913 – No. 2 – Russia
1914 – No. 151 – Quebec
1914 – T. B. Taylor – Dundee
1914 – No. 18 – Russia
1914 – T.C.C. Dredger No. 9 – Tees
1923 – Barbus – Bombay
1923 – Drudge – Bombay
1924 – No. 699 – Doncaster

STEAM HOPPER BARGES (1861 though 1925)
1861 – No. 1 – 300 tons – Clyde Navigation Trust
1861 – No. 2 – 300 tons – Clyde Navigation Trust
1863 – No. 3 – 350 tons – Clyde Navigation Trust
1863 – No. 4 – 350 tons – Clyde Navigation Trust
1867 – No. 1 – 150 tons – Carlingford Commissioners
1867 – No. 2 – 150 tons – Carlingford Commissioners
1868 – No. 1 – 350 tons – Cardiff Navigation Trustees
1868 – No. 2 – 350 tons – Cardiff Navigation Trustees
1868 – No. 9 – 400 tons – Clyde Navigation Trustees
1868 – No. 10 – 400 tons – Clyde Navigation Trustees
1871 – No. 171 – 200 tons – Barrow Navigation Trustees
1873 – No. 173 – 150 tons – Newcastle Navigation Trustees
1873 – No. 174 – 150 tons – Newcastle Navigation Trustees
1875 – No. 176 – 150 tons – Newcastle Navigation Trustees
1875 – Industry – 150 tons – Colombo, Ceylon
1875 – No. 1 – 350 tons - Mersey Docks Board
1875 – No. 2 – 350 tons - Mersey Docks Board
1875 – No. 3 – 350 tons - Mersey Docks Board
1877 – No. 4 – 500 tons - Mersey Docks Board
1877 – No. 5 – 500 tons - Mersey Docks Board
1877 – No. 6 – 500 tons - Mersey Docks Board
1877 – No. 7 – 500 tons - Mersey Docks Board
1877 – No. 8 – 500 tons - Mersey Docks Board
1877 – Cherebon – 500 tons – Dutch Colonial Govmt.
1877 – Karawang – 650 tons – Dutch Colonial Govmt.
1878 – Tegai – 650 tons – Dutch Colonial Govmt.
1878 – Pegalongan – 650 tons – Dutch Colonial Govmt.
1878 – Samarang – 650 tons – Dutch Colonial Govmt.
1878 – Banjomas – 650 tons – Dutch Colonial Govmt.
1879 – Kadina – 400 tons – Adelaide, Australia
1879 – Goolwa – 400 tons – Adelaide, Australia
1879 – Trident – 150 tons – Newhaven
1879 – Mountjoy – 600 tons - Londonderry
1880 – Alpha – 300 tons – Liverpool Corporation
1881 – Perseverance – 500 tons – Colombo, Ceylon
1882 – Cloch – 550 tons – Clyde Lighthouse Trust
1882 – Toward – 550 tons – Clyde Lighthouse Trust
1882 – Cumbrae – 550 tons – Clyde Lighthouse Trust
1884 – Batman – 550 tons – Melbourne Navigation Trust
1884 – Fawkner – 550 tons – Melbourne Navigation Trust
1884 – No. 9 – 900 tons – Mersey Docks Board
1885 – Beta – 550 tons – Liverpool Corporation
1889 – No. 273 – 70 tons - Santos
1889 – No. 274 – 70 tons - Santos
1889 – No. 275 – 70 tons – Santos
1890 – William Bell – 350 tons – Natal
1890 – John Milne – 350 tons – Natal
1890 – No. 283 – 70 tons – Santos
1890 – No. 284 – 70 tons – Santos
1891 – No. 288 – 350 tons – Ribble Navigation
1891 – No. 289 – 350 tons – Ribble Navigation
1891 – No. 290 – 350 tons – Ribble Navigation
1891 – No. 295 – 350 tons – Natal
1892 – No. 304 – 70 tons – Santos
1893 – No. 311 – 150 tons – Portsmouth
1893 – No. 21 – 1,250 tons – Clyde Navigation Trustees
1893 – No. 22 – 1,250 tons – Clyde Navigation Trustees
1895 – Salford – 600 tons – Corporation of Salford
1896 – No. 4 – 500 tons – Devonport
1896 – No. 5 – 500 tons – Devonport
1896 – No. 6 – 500 tons – Devonport
1897 – Miles K. Burton – 1,200 tons – Liverpool
1898 – No. 14 – 1,500 tons – Liverpool
1898 – No. 15 – 1,500 tons – Liverpool
1898 – No. 3 – 900 tons – London
1898 – No. 4 – 900 tons – London
1899 – Achilleon – 350 tons – Russian Govmt.
1899 – Gordipija – 350 tons – Russian Govmt.
1899 – Orna – 350 tons – Russian Govmt.
1900 – Kharki – 450 tons – Natal
1900 – Durban – 450 tons – Natal
1900 – No. 16 – 800 tons - Liverpool
1900 – No. 17 – 800 tons - Liverpool
1900 – No. 18 – 800 tons – Liverpool
1900 – Avon – 600 tons – Bristol
1900 – Frome – 600 tons – Bristol
1901 – No. 78 – 600 tons - Devonport
1901 – No. 79 – 600 tons - Devonport
1901 – No. 80 – 600 tons - Devonport
1902 – No. 38 – 600 tons - Devonport
1902 – No. 39 – 600 tons - Devonport
1902 – No. 40 – 600 tons – Devonport
1904 – Heron – 1,000 tons – Bombay
1904 – Gull – 1,000 tons – Bombay
1905 – Enrique – 200 tons – Buenos Ayres
1907 – Portugalete – 800 tons – Bilbao Harbour Board
1907 – Algorta – 800 tons – Bilbao Harbour Board
1908 – Red Nab – 800 tons – Midland Railway Coy (Heysham)
1908 – Hessam – 800 tons – Midland Railway Coy (Heysham)
1908 – Swallow – 1,000 tons – Rangoon Port Commissioners
1909 – Seagull – 1,000 tons – Rangoon Port Commissioners
1909 – Curlew – 1,000 tons – Rangoon Port Commissioners
1910 – Peewit – 600 tons – Bombay Port Trust
1912 – Preesall – 500 tons – L & Y and L & NW Railway Coy
1913 – No. 6 – 750 tons – Russian Ministry of Marine
1913 – No. 7 – 750 tons – Russian Ministry of Marine
1913 – No. 8 – 750 tons – Russian Ministry of Marine
1913 – No. 9 – 750 tons – Russian Ministry of Marine
1914 – No. 12 – 750 tons – Russian Ministry of Marine
1914 – No. 19 – 600 tons – Russian Ministry of Marine
1914 – No. 20 – 600 tons – Russian Ministry of Marine
1920 – No. 12 – 1,000 tons – Mersey Docks Board
1923 – Chelura – 1,500 tons – Bombay Port Trust
1925 – Dalmarnock – 1,400 tons – Corporation of Glasgow

HOPPER DREDGERS (1872 through 1925)
1872 – Canada – 200 tons – Canadian Ports
1874 – St. Lawrence – 700 tons – Canadian Ports
1875 – Caledonian – 250 tons – Grangemouth
1876 – Medusa – 200 tons – Grimsby
1876 – Willunga – 1,000 tons – Port Adelaide
1877 – Greenock – 1,000 tons – Greenock
1878 – Neptune – 500 tons – Newhaven, Sussex
1881 – Ely – 250 tons – Cardiff
1881 – No. 222 – 1,300 tons – Dunedin
1882 – Alexandria – 500 tons – Grimsby
1882 – An-Ding – 600 tons – Shanghai
1883 – Forth – 800 tons – Grangemouth
1883 – Agnes – 300 tons – Palermo, Italy
1883 – Hals – 250 tons – Aalborg, Denmark
1884 – Platypus – 800 tons – Brisbane
1884 – Espana – 800 tons – Valencia, Spain
1884 – Valencia – 800 tons – Valencia, Spain
1885 – Surprise – 400 tons – Dieppe, France
1885 – Ville d’Eu – 400 tons – Dieppe, France
1885 – Leven – 800 tons – Dumbarton
1885 – No. 3 – 800 tons – Belfast
1885 – No. 4 – 800 tons – Belfast
1886 – Gefion – 300 tons – Copenhagen
1886 – B.D. 1 – 1,000 tons – Bristol
1887 – Esk – 250 tons – Whitby
1887 – Kuphus – 1,000 tons – Bombay
1887 – St. George – 300 tons – Portsmouth
1888 – Aid – 300 tons – La Rochelle
1888 – Sode-Ga-Ura-Maru – 300 tons – Yokohama
1888 – St. Patrick – 350 tons – Chatham
1888 – Otter – 500 tons – Natal
1889 – St. Andrew – 500 tons – Portsmouth
1889 – No. 269 – 300 tons – Board of Trade
1890 – Alexandria – 350 tons – Alexandria
1890 – Ayame – 400 tons – Yokohama
1890 – Manchester – 850 tons – Manchester
1890 – Mermaid – 1,000 tons – Aden
1890 – No. 285 – 400 tons – Nicaragua
1891 – Gandia – 400 tons – Gandia, Spain
1891 – Manche – 500 tons – Dieppe, France
1891 – Wenlock – 400 tons – Madras
1892 – Waterloo – 450 tons – Southampton
1892 – Irvine – 250 tons – Irvine, Scotland
1892 – Sicily – 500 tons – Palermo
1892 – No. 1 – 1,000 tons – Cronstadt
1892 – Triton – 500 tons – Colombo
1892 – Mud Turtle – 600 tons – Bombay
1892 – Blyth – 600 tons – Blyth
1892 – Harrington – 200 tons – Harrington
1893 – St. Michael – 600 tons – Portsmouth
1893 – Pholas – 500 tons – Antigua
1894 – Fremantle – 400 tons – Fremantle, Australia
1894 – No. 9 – 700 tons – Libau (Russia)
1894 – No. 10 – 700 tons – Libau (Russia)
1894 – Percy Sanderson – 1,250 tons – Soulina
1894 – St. Alban – 600 tons – Portsmouth
1894 – St. Enoch – 600 tons – Portsmouth
1895 – St. Lawrence – 600 tons – Gibraltar
1895 – Devon – 600 tons – Plymouth
1896 – Sir John Coode – 900 tons – Colombo
1896 – Parmelia – 450 tons – Fremantle, Australia
1896 – Slaney – 250 tons – Wexford
1896 – Cornwall – 700 tons – Plymouth
1898 – William Price – 1,250 tons – Karachi
1898 – Antleon – 250 tons – Sydney
1899 – Sandormen – 150 tons – Elsinore
1900 – No. 1 Shunkhai Maru – 650 tons – Osaka
1900 – La Puissante – 2,000 tons – Port Said
1901 – Riga – 1,000 tons – Russia
1901 – Teredo – 800 tons – Natal
1902 – St. Hilda – 500 tons – Hartlepool
1903 – Stonewall – 550 tons – Plymouth
1904 – Dragon – 300 tons – Workington
1904 – St. Giles – 600 tons – Devonport
1904 – Manar – 450 tons – Tuticorin
1904 – Murihiku – 450 tons – New Zealand
1905 – Edward Jackson – 1,250 tons – Karachi
1905 – Bruce – 750 tons – Newport, Mon.
1906 – Cleopatra – 1,000 tons – Egypt
1906 – Karnafuli 1 – 700 tons – Chittagong
1908 – Mawhera – 450 tons – Greymouth Harbour Board
1909 – Maui – 400 tons – Gisborne Harbour Board
1911 – U.S. Corozal – 1,200 tons – Isthmian Canal Commn.
1911 – Pungue – 260 tons – Companhia de Mocambique (Beira)
1915 – Silurus – 1,500 tons – Bombay Port Trust
1915 – Cachalot – 500 tons – Secretary of State for India
1925 – No. 673 – 150 tons – Trinidad

PUMP HOPPER DREDGERS (1889 through 1924)
1889 – Beaver – 500 tons – Natal
1891 – No. 287 – 450 tons – Nicaragua
1892 – Jupiter – 500 tons – Sydney
1892 – No. 1 – 500 tons – Cronstadt
1895 – Octopus – 1,200 tons – Natal
1897 – Kate – 1,000 tons – East London
1897 – Walrus – 1,200 tons – Natal
1898 – Antleon – 250 tons – Sydney
1902 – Grampus – 1,200 tons – Natal
1903 – Nautilus – 2,500 tons – Natal
1903 – Agnes – 2,000 tons – East London
1903 – Snipe – 200 tons – Natal
1903 – Rubi Seddon – 500 tons – New Zealand
1903 – Frederic Fryer – 800 tons – Burma
1904 – Madras – 900 tons – India
1905 – Cetus – 3,000 tons – Natal
1905 – Tethys – 300 tons – Sydney
1907 – Egerton – 1,200 tons – Lagos
1907 – Benjamin Constant – 300 tons – Porto Alegre
1908 – Governador – 300 tons – West of India
1908 – MacQuarie – 200 tons – Marine Board of Strahan
1909 – Sandgrouse – 1,800 tons – Southern Nigeria Govmt.
1910 – MOP 210 C – 2,060 tons – Argentine Government
1911 – Canterbury – 1,100 tons – Lyttelton Harbour Board
1912 – MOP 211 C – 2,060 tons – Argentine Government
1913 – Balari – 3,000 tons – Calcutta Port Commissioners
1914 – Cormorant – 1,100 tons – Comms. for Port of Rangoon
1915 – Child – 600 tons – Government of Nigeria
1919 – S.D. Severn – 1,100 tons – Bristol Corporation
1924 – Tigon – 2,000 tons – Anglo-Persian Oil Coy Ltd

PUMP DREDGERS (1895 through 1924)
1895 – No. 333 – 100 tons – South America
1901 – Curlew – 350 tons – Natal
1902 – Ibis – 350 tons – Natal
1902 – No. 398 – 100 tons – South America
1905 – Penguin – 1,000 tons – Natal
1905 – Pelican – 1,000 tons – Natal
1906 – Indus – 400 tons – India
1906 – Foyers – 4,000 tons – India
1906 – Sandpiper – 5,000 tons – India
1907 – No. 440 – 150 tons – Lagos
1908 – Pelican – 3,000 tons – Port of Rangoon
1908 – Alexandria – 1,000 tons – Eastern Bengal State Railway
1908 – Jinga – 3,000 tons – Bombay Port Trust
1908 – Kalu – 3,000 tons – Bombay Port Trust
1912 – Oswald – 1,000 tons – Secretary of State for India
1912 – Campbell – 1,000 tons – Secretary of State for India
1912 – Lees – 1,800 tons – Secretary of State for India
1912 – Cambay – 150 tons – State of Cambay
1914 – No. 4 – 1,000 tons – Russian Ministry of Marine
1914 – No. 5 – 1,000 tons – Russian Ministry of Marine
1920 – Renfrew – 350 tons – Secretary of State for India
1922 – Sir George Lloyd – 3,500 tons – Secretary of State for India
1922 – Colaba – 3,500 tons – Secretary of State for India
1922 – Ronaldshay – 4,500 tons – Secretary of State for India
1922 – Cowley – 4,500 tons – Secretary of State for India
1924 – Burdwan – 350 tons – Secretary of State for India

CUTTER SUCTION DREDGERS (1910 through 1924)
1910 – St. Lawrence DWYC (14) – 2,000 tons – British Government
1911 – Labrus – 2,000 tons – Government of Natal
1911 – Canterbury – 1,100 tons – Lyttelton Harbour Board
1922 – Samuelson – 800 tons – Secretary of State for India
1924 – Liger – 1,250 tons – Anglo-Persian Oil Coy Ltd

ALLUVIAL DREDGERS (1907 through 1914)
1907 – No. 442 – 375 tons – Tongkah Harbour Board
1910 – No. 506 – 400 tons – Tongkah Harbour Board
1910 – No. 507 – 400 tons – Tongkah Harbour Board
1913 – No. 522 – 450 tons – Tongkah Harbour Board
1914 – No. 554 – 550 tons – Cheneriang Tin Dredging Coy

During the Great War of 1914-1918, William Simon & Coy Ltd suspended Dredger building in order to divert their full resources to the war effort. During this period, the Firm constructed no less than forty-six vessels for the Admiralty and the War Office, including Minesweepers, Hospital Ships, Paddle Steamers, Tugs and Barges.

Recognised as a leader and pioneer in the science of dredging technology, William Simon & Coy introduced many novel ideas and designed unique forms of vessels and equipment, much of which they patented. The Firm’s innovation and rapid progress in evolving esoteric designs and methods for the most challenging of jobs in the most difficult environments contributed to the world-wide recognition of this Firm being one of the most successful in the constant struggle to improve and maintain navigable and safe harbours, rivers, estuaries, canals, and docks. 

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