Papers of Sir Andrew McCance chairman of Colvilles Ltd, iron and steel manufacturers, Motherwell, Scotland

Scope and Content

The collection contains the business papers regarding Andrew McCance's various business dealings.  

  • Correspondence 1931-1944
  • Colville Construction Co Ltd correspondence and accounts 1932-1941
  • Clyde Alloy Co Ltd correspondence 1941-1953
  • Steel Co of Scotland Ltd correspondence and accounts 1941-1963
  • Colvilles Ltd correspondence 1922-1964
  • Metallurgical Products Ltd correspondence and plans 1945-1953
  • Printed manuals and pamphlets 1938-1959
  • Printed catalogues 1953-1967

Administrative / Biographical History

Andrew McCance (1889-1983) was born at Cadder, North Lanarkshire, Scotland, on  30 March 1889  the son of an East India merchant. Educated at Morrison's Academy, Crieff, Perth & Kinross, Scotland; Allan Glen's School, Glasgow, Scotland; and the Royal School of Mines, London, England, he returned to Scotland in  1910  . He entered the steel industry as an assistant chemist with William Beardmore & Co Ltd, steel manufacturers, Parkhead Forge, Glasgow. His discovery of how to prevent cracks in armour plate resulted in his being made assistant armour manager. The University of London awarded him the degree of Doctor of Science in  1916  . Unable to enlist during the 1914-1918 World War because of injuries sustained in a crushing accident in the Armour Shop, he continued his work at Parkhead Forge until  1919  . With the end of the war, and seeing little future in armour steel, he decided to launch his own manufacturing business, taking advantage of what he saw as a growing market for alloy and special steels. He joined forces with T M Service, manager at  William Beardmore & Co Ltd , and approached John Craig, chairman of  David Colville & Sons Ltd  , iron and steel manufacturers, Motherwell, Scotland, with a view to leasing the derelict Inshaw Works for conversion into a steel foundry. Colvilles welcomed the suggestion and the  Clyde Alloy Steel Co Ltd was created in  November 1919  as a subsidiary of David Colville & Sons Ltd. David Colville & Sons Ltd held 80 per cent of the shares, 16 per cent of which were held for sale to  Andrew McCance and T M Service when they were in a position to purchase them.

In  1920,  T M Service returned to William Beardmore & Co Ltd, and  Andrew McCance bore the major responsibility of nurturing the fledgling company, in the midst of a difficult economic climate. It was the mid-1920s before the company began to cover costs and expansion became possible. However, during this time the value of  Andrew McCance 's work, in particular his technical expertise, had come to be recognised by David & Colville & Sons Ltd. On the formation of  Colvilles Ltd in  1930  , he was offered a place on the board of directors and he soon became a key figure in the rationalisation process that brought together the various works and companies that formed the Colville Group. In  1944,  he was appointed chairman and joint managing director of Colvilles Ltd. He was awarded a knighthood in  1947  . He was President of the British Iron & Steel Federation,  1957-1958  , and served on numerous committees associated with the iron and steel industry. He was Chairman of the Royal Technical College, Glasgow, at the time when it became the Royal College of Science & Technology. He opposed proposals for the college to be absorbed into the University of Glasgow, advocating that it should become an independent degree awarding institution. This was achieved in  1964  , when the Royal College became the University of Strathclyde.  Sir Andrew McCance was awarded an honorary doctorate at the first full graduation ceremony. The McCance Building at the University is named after him.  Sir Andrew McCance died at Girvan, South Ayrshire, Scotland on  11 June 1983  .

Slaven, A and Checkland, S (eds), Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography 1860-1960 vol 1 (Aberdeen, 1986)


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

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Acquired from the estate of Sir Andrew McCance by the Economic History Department, University of Glasgow

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom.

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S)2591) and London (NRA27344)

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 normal procedures

Custodial History

They were previously stored with the McCance family


None expected

Related Material

The records of the University of Glasgow contain many references to the negotiations for the Royal College of Science & Technology to become part of the University, a proposal which Sir Andrew so vehemently opposed.

GB 234 Records of Colvilles Ltd (National Archives of Scotland)

GB 1496 Records of Colvilles Ltd (British Steel East Midlands Regional Records Centre)

GB 1527 Records relating to Colvilles Ltd Clyde, Clydebridge and Glangarnock Works (British Steel Records Centre)

GB 248 Papers of John Craig, chairman of Colvilles Ltd

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

Material in other repositories: no material associated by provenance


Peter L Payne,Colvilles and the Scottish Steel Industry(Oxford, 1979)

Additional Information

This material is original

Revised by Jenny Cooknell , Assistant Archivist, 17 September 1999

Revised by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 24 April 2002