Records of McAlpine Ferro-Concrete Co Ltd, civil engineering contractors, London, England

Scope and Content

  • Board minutes 1907-1927

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert McAlpine & Sons , civil engineering contractors based in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, Scotland, pioneered work in building bridges and viaducts in concrete. By 1910, they were recognised as experts in reinforced concrete having patented a number of reinforcement methods. However, they were unable to ignore similar developments that had occurred elsewhere in Europe, most noticeably the work of Franois Hennebique (1842-1921). In 1880, he patented a floor slab reinforced with round bars of iron and in 1892 he patented a design for a concrete beam reinforced with round steel bars, fishtailed at the ends, and with vertical stirrups of hoop-iron. He later developed a reinforced concrete pile and made his fortune by selling licences to builders around the world to use.

In 1907, Robert McAlpine & Sons took out a licence from Louis Mouchel , Hennebique's agent in London, England, to enable them to use the three systems of concrete reinforcement that Hennebique had patented in 1897. These were for improvements in the construction of joists, girder, and the like with cement strengthened with iron; an improved system of flooring of strengthened Beton or concrete; and for improvements in piles, quays, and retaining walls or structures, and McAlpine were licences to use them in Glasgow, Scotland, and the surrounding area. The licence cost £300 and Hennebique also received a fee of 12 percent to cover royalties, the services of one of Hennebique's engineers, and a guarantee of quantities, on the value of work in which the patented systems were used. Mouche, the engineer whose services were available to McAlpine through the licence, was later engaged by the firm as a consultant and advisor on other McAlpine contracts involving concrete.

In 1907  , Robert McAlpine & Sons set up the subsidiary McAlpine Hennebique Ferro-Concrete Co Ltd to further their business in the south of England. The directors of the company were Malcolm and Robert (jnr) McAlpine and Lawrence Weaver, the first two holding 4,500 shares each and Weaver 500 of £1 in the company, while Kerr Lockhead, JD Ferguson, BH Bedell and EB Robbins, the secretary, held a single share each. The company's main function was to win contracts for reinforced concrete construction work. The company was responsible for the Queenborough Wharf Co Ltd contract at Rushenden, Kent, England, to build a new wharf and the Queenborough Cement Co Ltd to construct a railway works.

In 1923  , the company dropped the name Hennebique becoming McAlpine Ferro-Concrete Co Ltd and continued to be an active company until at least 1927  .

Russell, Iain,Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons: The Early Years(1988)


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Deposit : Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons Ltd : 1985

Other Finding Aids

Digital and manual file level lists of the surviving records of Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons Ltd, subsidiaries and related companies are available in the searchroom ref: UGD 254

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S) 3111) and London (NRA32523)

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 Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons Ltd, Kettering. Transferred to Glasgow University Archive Services in 1985 during the preparation of the company history.


None expected

Related Material

The records of the following Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons companies are held by Glasgow University Archive Services:

GB 248 UGD 254/1 Records of Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons Ltd

GB 248 UGD 254/2 Records of Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons (London) Ltd

GB 248 UGD 254/3/1 Records of Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons (Scotland) Ltd

GB 248 UGD 254/3/2 Records of Sir Robert McAlpine Properties (Scotland) Ltd

GB 248 UGD 254/4 Records of Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons (Midlands) Ltd

GB 248 UGD 254/5 Records of Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Ltd

GB 248 UGD 254/6 Records of Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons (Ireland) Ltd

GB 248 UGD 254/7 Records of Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons (Birmingham) Ltd

GB 248 UGD 254/10 Records of Dorchester House Hotel

GB 248 UGD 254/11 Records of Victoria Agency Ltd

GB 248 UGD 254/18 Records of McAlpine Ferro-Concrete Co Ltd

Material in other repositories: no material associated by provenance


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

This material is original

Compiled by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 3 February 2003

No alterations made to date

Geographical Names