Fairfield, Govan, United Kingdom
Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company
Affectionately known over the years as "Fairfield's" , the yard was founded in 1834 by Charles Randolph. John Elder joined in 1852 and it became Randolph Elder and Co.at the Govan Old Shipyard Their first ship was an unnamed barge.
The move to the present site,the Fairfield Farm took place in 1868 and around 1886 it became the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, A West Yard was built in the 1920s but closed after ten years. In 1935 the yard became part of the Lithgow empire from Port Glasgow.
Engine building was also undertaken in conjunction with David Rowan and Co and the two firms merged in the 1960s becoming Fairfield-Rowan.
A black period occurred in mid 1965 when the company was placed into receivership, the yard nearly closing. However it was sold by the Lithgow Group becoming Fairfield (Glasgow). Sadly Fairfield Rowan ceased the following year,1966.
Another traumatic period came in 1968 when the yard became the Govan Division of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders an amalgamation of Clyde yards on Government initative under the Geddes report. UCS collapsed in 1971 but the famous work in at the Clydebank shipyard brought their plight to world wide attention when a U- turn was taken by the then Conservative administration.
The Fairfield yard then became Govan Shipbuilders but troubles were not over when it became part of nationalised British Shipbuilders, another Government disaster in 1977 which lasted for 11 years when, up for closure again it passed into the hands of the Norwegian Kvaerner Group in 1988 becoming Kvaerner Govan
Closure loomed once more when Kvaerner gave up shipbuilding and pulled out in 1999 but the yard's charmed life continued when taken over by BAe Systems briefly changing to BVT in the early 2000s but reverting now to BAe Systems Surface Solutions.
Some notable ships have been built at the yard over the years for the likes of Canadian Pacific, passenger liners and ferries. Cunard's CAMPANIA and LUCANIA came from Govan and the tragic Donaldson liner ATHENIA the first casualty of World War II. The Bibby Line was also a major customer and their 4 masted liners of the 1920s were of particular note.
There were many warships built there as well such as the cruiser NORFOLK, carrier IMPLACABLE and battleship HOWE.
Following the end of WW2 the yard built a variety of cargo and passenger ships, ferries, bulkers and tankers. They built the last troopship OXFORDSHIRE in 1957 and prior to that Canadian Pacific's EMPRESS OF BRITAIN in 1956, a much loved and long lived ship only going to breakers in 2008 as TOPAZ.
Standardisation occurred in the 1970s with a series of bulkers known as the Cardiff Class and large general cargo Kuwait Class vessels the latter also built under licence in Korea. A major order in 1987 was the large North Sea ferry NORSEA sailing today as PRIDE OF YORK. Two large container ships for the China Ocean Shipping Co were also completed in 1989/1990. Under Kvaerner a series of sophisticated chemical tankers were built. Their most under-rated ship however must be the marvellous Rocket Command Vessel SEA LAUNCH COMMANDER built in 1997 for the Boeing SeaLaunch Project.
Nowadays the yard is a warship facility. Only one building berth is used nowadays. All the Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyers except DARING were built at Govan and sadly HMS DUNCAN the final one will possibly be the last time that a ship will be launched on the Clyde in the traditional manner into the water. With the end of the Type 45 programme work is concentrating on sections of the two large aircraft carriers QUEEN ELIZABETH and PRINCE OF WALES or ARK ROYAL as it might be renamed. There is also the Type 26 frigate programme up and coming which hopefully will secure a reasonable future for this, the last Clyde shipyard.
Text with many thanks to Paul Strathdee
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Filmed by the Euromast in Rotterdam om 22nd March 1980.
I know nothing about her history.
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