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Scott, Sinclair and Co

of Greenock

1825 The Scott family bought an engine works in Greenock and began to make steamers that could manage the long routes out to the Middle and Far East.

c.1835 Robert Sinclair, Senior was a member of the firm when his nephew, Robert Sinclair, became an apprentice

1839-42 See 1839-1842 Marine Engine Makers for details of engines made for the Admiralty

James Mullens Scott ( - 1851) was works manager

Around 1849, as Scott, Sinclair and Co, they built seventeen railway locomotives before this side of the business was dropped.

1849 John Scott resigned as a partner

1852 Self-acting lathe

1856 A 40 HP marine condensing engine by Scott, Sinclair & Co was advertised for sale at Haydock Colliery, 'lately used for pumping'.

1904 The engine works were swallowed up in Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Co


The firm was amongst the first to enter upon the building of steamships, and in three successive years-1819-20-21-the largest steamer in the kingdom came from their works. The first engines manufactured by the Scotts at their Greenock Foundry were for the Trinacria, built by them in 1825. This foundry had been started on a small scale in 1790, and was acquired by John Scott in 1825 at £5,000. The Greenock Foundry was carried on as a separate but correlated concern under the designation of Scott, Sinclair & Co. until 1859, when it was changed to the Greenock Foundry Company, the principal partner of which was John Scott (IV.), and under this title it was known up to 1904, the shipbuilding yards and engineering works being then combined under one name, Scotts' Shipbuilding and Engineering Coy., Limited.


Naval engine work began with the Hecla and the Hecate in 1838-9, the first warships built in HM dockyards to be sent to Scotland for machinery. Their first building contract for the Navy was in 1803, the warship the Prince of Wales. They also built the first steam frigate turned out from Clyde works for the British Navy, the H.M.S. Greenock, launched in 1849. This was the largest iron warship of her day, the first to be fitted by the Scotts’ with the screw propeller. The figurehead was a bust of John Scott II, in recognition of his work in advancing naval architecture and the development of Greenock.


As noted elsewhere the Engine Works were responsible for developments in the construction of submarines early 20th century and continued development of diesel engines.




After the commissioning of the pair of heavy hammerhead cranes in the early 1960’s, most subsequent vessels built at the yard were launched with their main engines and auxiliaries already installed. Scotts’ engineering department had been much involved in research and development work pre-war on slow speed diesel engines. As engine builders, Scotts built a greater variety of such machines than any other British competitor. Types built by the firm included the Fiat, Scott-Still, Scott, Werkspoor, NEM, MAN, Doxford and Sulzer designs. Consequently, post-war they found it easy to switch from building geared steam turbine machinery for their naval ships to building the Doxford and latterly the Sulzer slow speed diesels, some of which were exported to Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and Brazil. The considerable engineering involvement in submarines both on board and in the workshops provided Scotts engine works and their installation department with a great deal of high precision activity involving torpedo tubes, periscopes, hydroplanes and escape arrangements which complemented their diesel engine and steam turbine construction programme. Marine engine building ceased after the construction of three Scott-Sulzer units that powered the trio of ‘M’ class cargo liners built by the company for Ocean Fleets Ltd in the early 1980s. Engineering involvement lingered on for a few more years, rendering assistance with the outfit and commissioning content of the three semi—submersible vessels built by Scott-Lithgow Ltd.

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