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James McMillan & Sons




Believed to have started as McMillan and Hunter in the West Burn area in the early 1800's as a boatbuilder. The yard built wooden p.s. Clydesdale (142 tons) in 1826 the others are unknown. Mr Robert Duncan was taken into partnership and by 1832 the yard was in Dellingburn area where they built at least 9 sail and 2 steamships of about 3,800 tons total. One of these the "India" a barque of 500 tons, launched in August 1839, was lost at sea on 19th July 1841. The biggest wooden paddle steamer the yard built was the Solway (1,871 tons), launched 1841 for Royal West Indian Mail S.N. Co. 

McMillan’s yard had floating dock capable of lifting ships up to 200 tons, and a repair slip built in 1833, the first in Greenock. The business failed in 1842 and the yard was bought by the Greenock Harbour Trust to form part of the East India and Victoria Harbours. By the time of the National Census of 1851, James McMillan was back in business and is annotated in the census return as being a shipbuilder, employing 24 men and 24 boys. A new shipyard was started as James McMillan and Sons, at Albert Quay Greenock, 1854. The yard built about 5 sailing vessels of about 2,000 ton total. 

As the Harbour Trust wanted the ground to build the Albert Harbour, McMillan was required to moved to Bay of Quick in 1858, where at least three sailing ships were built. In 1862 the yard taken was compulsorily taken over and £24,000 compensation paid, prior to construction of Princes Pier and Glasgow and South Western Railway sidings. 

Sources: Fowlers Commercial Directory (Lower Ward of Renfrewshire) 1836, page 71 
Greenock Post Office Directory 1841-2, page 169 
Greenock Telegraph 14 January 1878, page 2. Watt Library, Greenock 
Plan of the Town of Greenock (surveyed 1838) Andrew McFarlane 
Shipbuilding Yards on the Clyde ( Lower Reaches) Greenock Telegraph 1962 
National Census 1851 (Greenock Reel C11) 
New Statistical Account (Greenock Parish) 1841. 

All sources can be found in the Watt Library and Museum, Greenock 

The announcement of the death of this gentleman, which took place at his residence on Saturday, will excite no little regret over a wide district, as few of our citizens were better known, he having conducted business in Greenock from a period anterior to the birth of three-fourths of the present population. He commenced originally as a boatbuilder on a piece of ground to the west of Messrs R. Steele and Co. ‘s a yard, and shortly after assumed Mr Duncan (the father of Mr R. Duncan, Port-Glasgow) as a partner, and then entered into the shipbuilding. From the yard named the firm launched several vessels. The Harbour Trust having resolved to construct the Victoria Harbour, acquired the building yard, and Mr McMillan then purchased from Mr Simons, shipbuilder, what is how Messrs R. Steele &Co.'s east yard, where be built several vessels, but on Messrs Steele offering a sufficient inducement for the yard he sold it. 
He next leased a piece of ground at the west end, part of which was known as Allison's Quay, and on these premises he constructed about half a-dozen wooden vessels, but the Harbour Trust once more requiring the ground, Mr McMillan removed his yard to the Bay of Quick, where he purchased ground, but only built in that yard one or two coasting vessels. The yard being closed, parties were alloyed a “free coup,” and in a few years the ground extended a considerable distance seaward. 
On the construction of the Greenock and Ayrshire Railway it was required for railway purposes; but the, price asked by Mr McMillan seemed to the Railway Company too high, so the matter was sent to a jury, who awarded Mr M'Millan £24,000. 
Since that time the 'deceased has not been engaged in business. He was a strong adherent of the Free Church, and a liberal contributor to its funds, A man of activity and enterprise he aided in advancing the trade and business of Greenock, and will long be remembered as one of its most successful inhabitants. 

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