Records of P MacCallum & Sons Ltd, iron & steel stockholders, Greenock, Inverclyde, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Minutes 1907-1972
  • Register of members 1907-1949
  • Memorandum and articles of association 1907
  • Financial records 1879-1974
  • Contract books 1896-1965
  • Abstract logs 1936-1972
  • Insurance records 1918-1974
  • Legal papers relating to the MacCallum family and business 1867-1950
  • Office plans 1907-1919
  • Stock lists 1907-1960
  • Correspondence 1912-1931
  • Press cuttings 1935-1979
  • Photographs of letters regarding early iron and steel business 1782

Administrative / Biographical History

Around 1781  , James MacCallum established a hardware business in Greenock, Inverclyde, Scotland, to supply materials to the growing shipbuilding industry. His son Peter, a partner in the firm of Kennedy, Reid & MacCallum, iron merchants, took over the hardware business. In 1838  , Peter MacCallum took his sons, James and Thomas Park, into partnership to form the firm of P MacCallum & Sons . By the mid 1840s, Peter MacCallum & Sons had become one of the chief suppliers of shipbuilding nails in Greenock. Shortly after Peter MacCallum's death in 1854, the firm began dealing in iron plate, taking them into the iron shipbuilding market. By the 1870s, P MacCallum & Sons numbered all the Greenock and Port Glasgow shipyards and engineering works among its customers, as iron replaced wood as the main shipbuilding material. P MacCallum & Sons Ltd was incorporated as a private limited liability company in 1907  . Although the firm benefited significantly from the post-war shipbuilding boom of 1919, it was quickly caught up in the recession of the early 1920s, as shipbuilders began to diversify into steel making as a means of reducing costs and ensuring supplies. They were able to ensure some continuity of business by importing cheaper European steel, using their own fleet of modern coasters. One such coaster was the Kindeisel that was managed by the Kindiesel Shipping Co Ltd , Greenock. P MacCallum & Sons Ltd were the chief shareholders in this enterprise with other shareholders including John Lang and James Fulton, formerly of Lang & Fulton Ltd , shipowners, Greenock.

As a result of the denationalisation of steel in the late 1950s, existing steel merchants were forced to expand their stockholding business and extend their ranges. P MacCallum & Sons Ltd was no exception, extending their established non-ferrous business, and entering the scrap business by buying back material from their customers. Further difficulties followed the onset of the depression of 1959, with the collapse of the export market and the loss of business from a number of their shipbuilding customers. Some of this was offset by expansion of non-shipbuilding custom, but the company was largely forced to depend upon their original business of stockholding. In the 1970s  , P MacCallum & Sons Ltd made a conscious decision to diversify away from shipowning and operation, and purchased the engineering business of Cochranes (Bo'ness) Ltd, Bo'ness, Scotland. In 1981  it acquired from the receiver the fixed assets of Thomas Brands & Sons Ltd, manufacturers of security systems. In 1984  , P MacCallum & Sons Ltd merged with Lang & Fulton Ltd , a the former shipowing company reconstituted following liquidation in 1924, to become Lang & Fulton Ltd, industrial equipment agents, Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2002, the company continued to trade.

Hume, John R and Moss, Michael,A Bed of Nails : the History of P MacCallum & Sons Ltd of Greenock 1781-1981 : A Study in Survival ( Greenock , Lang & Fulton  , 1982  )


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

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Additional Information

Compiled by Jenny Cooknell , Assistant Archivist, 9 August 1999

Revised by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 16 May 2002

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