Records of Duncan Stewart & Co Ltd (and Fletcher & Stewart Ltd), sugar machinery manufacturers, Bridgeton, Glasgow

Scope and Content

  • Records of Duncan Stewart & Co Ltd, sugar machinery manufacturers, 1881-1960s;
  • Papers of Robert Gilbert, an employee of Duncan Stewart & Co Ltd, 1877-1890;
  • Records of Fletcher & Stewart Ltd, 1960.

Administrative / Biographical History

Duncan Stewart & Co Ltd was founded in 1840 when Peter Stewart set up a workshop at 77 Bishop Street, Anderston, Glasgow. Joined later by his son, Duncan Stewart (1844-1904), the business expanded to larger premises in Bridgeton in 1864. This site was known as the London Road Ironworks and it remained the firm's headquarters until 1962. However, the partnership was short-lived as Peter Stewart died in 1864 and Duncan took charge of the company.

Initially, the workshops covered 3,600 sq ft and employed 80 people. Duncan Stewart was responsible for the application of hydraulic pressure cylinders to sugar cane mills and was granted a patent for this in 1871. He continued to develop both his textile machinery and sugar processing machinery after that date. In 1879, he married Marie Beardmore, daughter of William Beardmore, Snr, and sister of William Beardmore, Jnr, owner of the Parkhead Forge in the east end of the city. He diversified into marine engineering in 1881 while creating new markets for sugar machinery in Java, Australia, Egypt and Japan, as well as in the West Indies.

From 1888 he began to supply his brother-in-law, William Beardmore, (later Lord Invernairn), with steel making equipment. The firm was incorporated as a limited liability company as Duncan Stewart & Co Ltd in 1891 with a capital of £100,000. In the late 1890s the company began building large steam engines for driving electrical generating sites. By 1900 the works had expanded to 60,000 sq ft and the company was employing 1,000 people but the company had lost heavily on a contract for Lanarkshire Steel Co, Scotland. Duncan Stewart became ill in 1901 and handed over executive control to William Beardmore (later Lord Invernairn) and his brother, Joseph also joined the board. William Beardmore in 1902 met many of the debts of the company that was liquidated and a new company, Duncan Stewart & Co (1902) Ltd , incorporated. William Beardmore was its chairman. Duncan Stewart died in 1904.

During the early years of the twentieth century, the scope of the business expanded. After a disastrous contract in South Africa to supply gas engines for the Johannesburg Municipal Power Station, a new company, Duncan Stewart & Co Ltd , was incorporated in 1911 to take over the contracts and goodwill of the company and to rent the factory. The 1902 company was liquidated in 1916. By 1922 they were making hydraulic presses for reducing the bulk of raw cotton, gold dredging plant, large horizontal compound and vertical triple expansion engines for driving spinning machines and high speed rolling mill engines for steel works, as well as expanding their interests into the processing of sugar beet. By 1927 there were factories in England at Spalding, Lincolnshire, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, Felstead and Colwick, Nottingham. In 1926 Duncan Stewart & Co Ltd pioneered the introduction of continuous diffusion in the UK.

After Lord Invernairn's death in 1936 the business was sold to Sheffield steel works machinery manufacturers Davy & United Engineering Co Ltd in 1939. The company and its patents and licences were acquired by Booker Bros & Co Ltd, food producers, in 1958, while the London Road Iron Works remained with Davy & United Engineering Co Ltd . It was merged in 1964 with George Fletcher & Co Ltd , sugar machinery manufacturers, established 1838 and acquired by Booker Bros & Co Ltd in 1956, to form Fletcher & Stewart Ltd.


Arranged into two subfonds. One describes the records of Duncan Stewart & Co Ltd and the papers of Robert Gilbert, an employee of this company. The other subfonds relates to the records of Fletcher & Stewart Ltd, which took over the company in 1964. Each subfonds is arranged into a number of different series of related records.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

  • Deposit : Derby County Council : c1983
  • Deposit : Mr G Gilbert : 28 May 2008 : 3200

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list avilable in searchroom

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

None which affect the use of this material

Conditions Governing Use

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

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

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 0248 procedures

Custodial History



None expected

Related Material

  • GB 0243, TD158, Records of Duncan Stewart & Co, engineers, London Road Ironworks, Glasgow, Scotland;
  • GB 0026, D2653B, Records of George Fletcher & Co Ltd, sugar machinery manufacturers, Derby, England;
  • GB 0248, UGD 118, Records of Mirrlees Watson Co Ltd, sugar machinery manufacturers, Glasgow, Scotland

Information on the Five Cails Group can be found on the  company website.

Location of Originals

This material is original


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives, ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999and National Council on Archives, Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Fonds level description compiled by Peter Monteith, 11 December 2008.

Geographical Names