Records of Lobnitz & Co Ltd, shipbuilders, Renfrew, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Minute books 1890-1957
  • Ledgers 1895-1960
  • Financial papers 1874-1964
  • Share transfers 1900-1960
  • Board and administrative papers 1887-1962
  • Estimates and enquiries: working papers 1920-1960
  • Apprentice time books 1912-1933
  • Wages and salary records 1930-1963
  • Production records 1899-1959
  • Photographs 1867-1959
  • Engine plans nos. 613-730 (not inclusive)
  • Ship plans 785-1159 (not inclusive)

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Christian Lobnitz was born in  Frederica, Denmark , in  1831  into a family connected with the Danish Royal Arsenals and moved to London with the object of gaining greater engineering experience. After spending some time with  Penn & Sons , Greenwich, and John Russel during during construction of the Great Eastern , he then served as an engineer on a naval vessel during the Crimean War.

On the conclusion of his service he moved to the Clyde and joined the shipbuilding firm of Coulborn & Co (est 1847 as James Henderson & Son), at Ship dock, Renfrew, Scotland. In 1874, he took over the business which was renamed  Lobnitz, Coulborn & Co . Although dredging plant and rock-cutting plant were developed from then on, the shipyard produced hulls as orders became available, with cargo vessels, cable ships, tugs and steam yachts being built in addition to specialised vessels.

Henry Lobnitz strengthened the management of the firm in  1890  by assuming as partners his son Frederick and  William A. Young , who had recently severed his connections with  Hawthorn & Co ., Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland. In  1895  he converted the partnership into a private limited company as  Lobnitz & Co Ltd . After two years of declining health,  Henry Lobnitz died in  December 1896  and was succeeded as chairman by William A Young.

After the turn of the twentieth century, the firm's output was almost entirely devoted to the construction of dredging plant, hoppers and roadbreakers, a cycle broken only during the two world wars, by the building of escort vessels, minesweepers, tugs and minor naval craft.

At the outbreak of the 1914-1918 war  Frederick Lobnitz offered his services to the government and joined the  Ministry of Munitions in May 1915, serving under  William Weir (later Lord Weir), taking over as director of  Lobnitz & Co Ltd himself at the end of 1916. In recognition of those services Frederick Lobnitz was knighted in 1920.

During the war, William A Young took charge as managing director having retired some years before, leaving the firm on Sir Frederick's return in 1916. Control of the shipyard's work remained in the latter's hands until his death in  December 1932  , when he was succeeded by his widow, his elder daughter and his son,  H Pearson Lobnitz .

Apart from the interruption caused by the 1939-1945 War, the yard continued to build specialised vessels. It became a public company in  1945  , when its premises were considerably updated and modernised to allow for prefabricated shipbuilding construction, and the engineering workshops were extensively re-equipped. This additional investment did not change their fortunes during the mid-1950s when the specialist field which had sustained them for so many years was eroded by shipbuilders through out the world.

The issued share capital of 250,000 shares at 10 shillings each was acquired by  Hedmex Investments Limited at a price of 42 shillings per share in  1957  . The following year an approach was made to  G & J Weir Ltd pump manufacturers, Glasgow, Scotland, suggesting a merger with their neighbours  William Simons & Co Ltd , ship and dredger builders, Renfrew, Scotland. This was turned down by Weirs who, although recognising some merit in having Lobnitz's better equipped machine shops, felt that there would be little chance of obtaining orders for new hulls at competitive prices for some time. Weirs changed their mind in 1959, believing that the operation of a combined shipyard would be an advantage, and an announcement of their takeover was made in August of that year.

The firm was then merged with  William Simons & Co Ltd in  1959  to form  Simons-Lobnitz Ltd , shipbuilders, Renfrew, which traded until  1964  .


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

Access Information

Held under the charge and superintendence of the Keeper of the Records of Scotland (ucs 004 only). Private records deposited by owners (ugd 215 and ugd 356 only).

Requests for access for legal, business or commercial purposes must be referred to the Keeper of the Records of Scotland (UCS 004 only).

Open (UGD 215 and UGD 356 only).

Acquisition Information

National Archives of Scotland: 1974 (UCS 004 only)

Held under the charge and superintendence of the Keeper of the Records of Scotland

Other Finding Aids

A single bound finding aid for the records of William Simons & Co Ltd, Lobnitz & Co Ltd, and Simons-Lobnitz Ltd is available in the searchroom (UCS 004).

Digital file level list available in searchroom (UGD 215 only).

Manual file level list available in searchroom (UCS 004 and UGD 356 only).

Manual file level list available at the National Register of Archives in London (NRA14659) (UCS 004 only).

Manual file level list available at the National Register of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S)2504) (UGD 215 only)

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

See separate copyright regulations (UCS 004 only).

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist (UGD 215 and UGD 356 only).

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents (UGD 215 and UGD 356 only).

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with National Archives of Scotland procedures

Custodial History

Records held by Simons-Lobnitz Ltd prior to acquisition by the National Archives of Scotland


None expected

Related Material

See source list on Shipping and Shipbuilding Industry available via the Glasgow University Archive Services homepage

GB 248 UGD 349 and GB 0248 UCS 003 Records of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd

GB 248 UGD 355 and GB 0248 UCS 005 Records of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd

GB 248 UGD 004 Records of Alexander Stephen & Sons Ltd

GB 248 UGD 114 and GB 0248 UGD 115 Records of William Simons & Co Ltd (shipbuilders: 1895-1959: Renfrew)

GB 248 UGD 149 Miscellaneous ship and engine photographs

GB 604 Paisley Museum, Art Gallery and Coats Observatory : Ship photographs 1890-1913

GB 064 National Maritime Museum Manuscripts Department: Plans and trial records of dredger c.1927

GB 243 TD232 Ship plans 1814-1861

For contact details of all repositories with a GB code, see the ARCHON repository search page

Location of Originals

This material is original


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

The fonds level of description was compiled by Jenny Bunn, Assistant Archivist, 3 April 2000

Revised by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 19 October 2001

Revised by David Powell, Hub Project Arcvhivist, 29 April 2002

Geographical Names