Records of Murdoch & Murray, shipbuilders, Port Glasgow and Dumbarton, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Cost books, c1877-1925;
  • Ships' particulars notebook, 1892-1910;
  • Records of payments, c1896-1921;
  • Specifications and agreements, c1895-1910;
  • Papers of James Murray, 1917-1948;
  • Staff records, 1919;
  • Clyde Shipbuilding and Engineering Company cost books, c1918-1922;
  • Clyde Shipbuilding and Engineering Co Ltd cost sheets, 1901-1923.

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Murray was born in Paisley in 1838 . He served his apprenticeship as a joiner and later worked in the sawmill of the shipbuilders Blackwood & Gordon. Henry Murray commenced shipbuilding in Port Glasgow in 1866 in partnership with James Crawford and Hugh Paton, under the name of Henry Murray & Co, to build iron hulls at what was then known as the Kingston Yard. Shipbuilding continued there until vessel No 114 in 1882, later vessels being built at Sandpoint, Dumbarton until they went out of business in 1884. When Henry Murray announced his retirement from Henry Murray & Co in 1873 the two partners, Hugh Paton and James Crawford, bought out Murray's shareholding and also invited Archibald Paton to invest in the company. The shipyard continued to trade as Henry Murray & Co, although Murray had left the concern, and traded as such until Russell & Co bought the yard in 1881.

When Henry Murray left the latter partnership to go into business with James Murdoch another company,  Murdoch & Murray was established in 1874 at the Brown Street yard in Port Glasgow. Yet a further company, Murray Brothers, was also established in Dumbarton in 1883. Henry Murray was the common factor in all three companies. Murray Brothers only built twenty one small ships and closed down in 1890. James Murdoch retired from active participation in 1895. Henry Murray retired in 1909 and died at his home in Port Glasgow in 1913, having maintained an active interest in his sons' firm. Murdoch & Murray became a limited company in 1909 but was re-formed as the Port Glasgow Shipbuilding Company in 1912, although the ships were still registered as being built by Murdoch & Murray, and remained in business until ship No 304 in 1923. The company specialised in the construction of steamers for river service and coastal work in tropical countries. In 1918 Amalgamated Industrials Ltd bought the shipyard, along with those of  Clyde Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Ltd and Ferguson Bros. James and George Murray, sons of the founder and latterly both directors (with James as yard manager of Murdoch & Murray) were apparently retained by Amalgamated Industrials Ltd as board members of the combined yards. Murdoch & Murray built their last ship in 1923, having built few vessels following the takeover, the yard closing officially in 1927. In 1923, James and George Murray, the two partners of the firm, retired but continued working with D & W Henderson, shipbuilders, Meadowside Shipyard, Partick negotiating to build " vessels of every class as well as supplying spare gear". Another brother, John, established Murray, McNab & Co, coastal steamship owners and brokers, Glasgow. The first two ships for this company were built by Murdoch & Murray.

Source of information: Clyde-Built Ships Section No.19 and information from UGC038; Shipbuilders of other days by F C Bowen; articles in Greenock Telegraph; information from Vic McClymont.


This material is arranged into series, which consist of numbers of items related by format and/or function. Within series, the items are generally arranged chronologically.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Gift from a member of the Murray family, August 1999 : ACCN 1812

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures

Custodial History

Held by the Murray family


None expected

Related Material

GB 248 UGD 223 and GD 320 Records of Lithgows Ltd

GB 248 UGD 140/7/1 Records of Clyde Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

This material is original

The fonds level description was compiled by Alison Scott, Assistant Archivist, June 2000

Alterations made by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 23 November 2001. Peter Menteith, Archive Assistant, 2007 retroconverted the lower levels to EAD. Enhanced descriptions by George Gardner, Archive volunteer 2009 and edited by Alma Topen, Senior Assistant Archivist (cataloguing) Oct 2015.