Steel, Ships and Men

BookSteel, Ships and Men

Steel, Ships and Men

Cammell Laird and Company 1824-1993


July 1st, 1998

Access Token




The firm of Cammell Laird originated in a boiler works in 1824 before growing and diversifying to become one of a small number of companies worldwide which could build, armour and arm the largest warships from the operations of a single company group. After World War I, it was reconstructed as a naval and mercantile shipbuilder with important financial interests in steel and rolling stock manufacture. Booming activity in World War II and continuing prosperity until the late 1950s was followed by increasing competition and deepening problems. By the 1980s the firm’s remaining steel interests had failed; in 1993 the once great Birkenhead shipyard closed. How and why did the businesses grow, then experience such problems and eventually collapse? This book tries to find answers.

Author Information

Kenneth Warren is Emeritus Fellow of Jesus College, University of Oxford. He is the author of numerous books, including 'Big Steel: The First Century of the United States Steel Corporation 1901–2001'; 'Wealth, Waste, and Alienation: Growth and Decline in the Connellsville Coke Industry'; and 'Bethlehem Steel: Builder and Arsenal of America'.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Title Page3
List of Figures and Tables7
Abbreviations used in Notes12
Part One: Nineteenth-century Developments23
1: The Establishment and Development of the Cammell Enterprise to 186425
2: Laird Shipbuilding to the 1860s40
3: The Rewards and Problems of Headlong Growth: The Early Years of a Limited Company54
4: The Struggle to Retain the Rail Trade71
5: Loss of Momentum: Charles Cammell and Company, 1873-190391
6: Laird Brothers, 1865–1903104
7: Workington, 1883–1909: A Case of Better Rather than Best?123
Part Two: Amalgamation, Diversification and Rationalisation, 1903-39135
8: Multi-plant Operations and Managerial Difficulties, 1900-14137
9: Problems of Commercial Integration: Fairfield’s and Coventry Ordnance Works152
10: Birkenhead Operations from 1903 to World War I172
11: World War I and the Post-war Boom: The Impact on Steel of High Activity, Plant Expansion and New Technology187
12: Shipbuilding, 1914–29198
13: Economic Depression and the Steel Trade in the 1920s215
14: Cammell Laird Rolling Stock224
15: Amalgamation and Rationalisation: The Formation and Early Development of the ESC232
16: Economic Efficiency and Social Costs: The Closure of the Penistone Works247
17: Reconstruction and Recovery at the ESC, 1932-39257
18: Shipbuilding in the Great Depression and the 1930s265
Part Three: Culmination and Decline, 1940-93275
19: Steel Interests in and after World War II277
20: Shipbuilding in World War II and the Post-war World286
21: A Long Rearguard Action: Cammell Laird, 1970-93307