Records of W & W McOnie, engineers, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Order books 1861-1971
  • Drawing office order books 1872-1930
  • Drawing catalogues 1851-1930
  • Dimension and repair books 1851-1987
  • Estates order book 1851-1966
  • Factory books 1928-1938
  • Letterbook 1889-1911
  • Mill and vacuum pan numbers book 1851-1964
  • Sugar machinery drawings [to be identified]

Administrative / Biographical History

P & W McOnie , engineers, was formed in  1840  in Glasgow, Scotland, by Peter McOnie, general engineer, and his brother, William, to repair sugar machinery and supply spares. By  1848  when the partnership was dissolved, the company had turned out 50 engines and 50 sugar mills. In  September 1848  , Peter established McOnie & Mirlees which subsequently went on to become the Mirrlees Watson Co Ltd.

In  1851  ,  W & A McOnie , engineers and millwrights, was formed in Scotland Street, Glasgow, by Andrew McOnie, Peter's younger brother, who was dissapointed in his aim of becoming a partner in McOnie & Mirlees, and William, Peter's former partner. Between 1851 and 1876 the company built 820 steam engines, 1650 sugar mills, 1200 steam boilers, 117 waterwheels, and 169 evaporating pans, mainly for Mauritius, Brazil and Java. The company often sub-contracted items such as boilers, stills, and specialised brass castings required in the execution of sugar factory contracts.

They were also responsible for introducing the Glasgow engineering firm of  A & W Smith & Co Ltd  to the sugar industry though subcontracting the manufacture of cattle-driven sugar mills to them. This firm went on to become the last surviving sugar machinery makers in Scotland.

In  1886  , the firm became known as  W & W McOnie and was under the control of William McOnie, jnr, William's son. William, jnrs, premature death in  1887  brought his father out of retirement and he formed a new partnership with Robert Harvey though a merger with Robert Harvey & Co, sugar machinery manufacturers, Glasgow, to form  McOnie, Harvey & Co . In  1892  , the firm was incorporated as  McOnie, Harvey & Co Ltd , changing its name again in  1904  to  Harvey Engineering Co Ltd . In  1930  , Harvey Engineering Co Ltd was liquidated and its good will acquired by  Blairs Ltd , coppersmiths, Glasgow, who continued to use the McOnie name. In  1945  the ordinary share capital of  Blairs Ltd was acquired by  The Mirrlees Watson Co Ltd , sugar machinery manufacturers, but the two companies continued to trade independently.

Source:  A Slaven & S Checkland, , vol 1Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography: 1860-1960(Aberdeen, 1986) and   Michael Moss and John Hume, Workshop of the British Empire: Engineering and Shipbuilding in the West of Scotland(London, 1977)


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

Access Information

Access to all records dating within the past 50 years must be cleared with the company. Apply in the first instance to the University Archivist

Acquisition Information

Smith Mirrlees : Eglinton Works, Cook Street, Glasgow, G5 8JW : 1972

Smith Mirrlees : Eglinton Works, Cook Street, Glasgow, G5 8JW : 1976 (Additional deposit)

Smith Mirrlees : Eglinton Works, Cook Street, Glasgow, G5 8JW : c1982 (Additional deposit)

Fletcher & Stewart Ltd : c1988 (Additional deposit)

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom as part of the Smitth Mirrlees finding aid (UGD 118)

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S)3119) and London (NRA14656)

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

Acquired directly from creators


None expected

Related Material

GB 248 UGD 062 Records of The Mirrlees Watson Co Ltd

GB 248 UGD 116 and UGD 118/6 Records of Blairs Ltd

GB 248 UGD 116/1 Records of A & W Smith & Co Ltd

GB 248 UGD 118/2 Records of Mirrlees Watson & Co Ltd

GB 248 UGD 118/3 Records of Pott, Cassels & Williamson

GB 248 UGD 118/5 Records of John McNeil & Co Ltd

GB 248 UGD 118/7 Records of R G Ross & Sons Ltd

GB 248 UGD 118/9 International Sugar Bulletin

GB 248 UGD 118/11Records of Fletcher & Stewart Ltd

See source list on Sugar available via Glasgow University Archive Services homepage at

Material in other repositories: no material associated by provenance


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Additional Information

This material is original

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Geographical Names