Our History

At Ferguson, we’re proud of our heritage and position as one of the UK’s leading shipbuilders. The key milestones in the development of our business, our capabilities and expertise are detailed below:

  • 1790
    Launch of the “Jessie” – the first recorded ship launch from the Newark Yard;
  • 1903
    Brothers, Peter, Daniel, Louis and Robert Ferguson leave the family shipyard, Fleming & Ferguson in Paisley, to take the Newark yard in Port Glasgow and form Ferguson Shipbuilders;
  • 1903
    A good start sees the yard secure its first contract to construct two steam tugs;
  • 1904
    Sir Harry Bullard, the company’s first Dredger Bucket Hopper, was launched by Ferguson Brothers;
  • 1907
    The Canterbury tug was launched which is still in service today. British yards were recognised as centres of shipbuilding excellence which is why the contract was awarded to Ferguson Brother’s with the vessel then travelling over 12,000 miles under her own steam to arrive at her home port in New Zealand;
  • 1910-11
    Ferguson Brothers delivered on 3 tugs and 7 hopper barges for the Port of London Authority;
  • 1913
    2400 IHP steam tug, ‘Lugwig Wiener’ was launched in August complete with wireless telegraphy and submarine signalling and utilised in the First World War;
  • 1915
    In April, new offices and a 60m machine shop were constructed by McBride of Port Glasgow and completed in October;
  • 1917
    Royal recognition and great excitement for Ferguson Brothers and Port Glasgow when King George V visits the yard;
  • 1922
    Launch of the company’s first cutter hopper suction dredger. Built to the order of the High Commissioner for the Union of South Africa, taking 4 years to build;
  • 1922-29
    Yard constructed a number of tugs, dredgers, hopper barges and cargo vessels. In 1927, a twin salvage vessel was built which sailed for Perim Island in October, having 72 tonnes of portable salvage gear and girders and a bunker capacity of 200 tonnes;
  • 1933
    First sludge vessel, “Mancunium” was launched;
  • 1935-36
    Work began on “Pomeroon”, a passenger cargo vessel with it’s trials in January 1936. The yard then built the two sister vessels, “Lady Northcote” and “Barima”;
  • 1939-45
    Ferguson Brothers makes a fantastic contribution to the World War II effort, building no less than 30 ships over seven years, including tunnel tugs, minesweepers, corvettes, Turkish ferries and boom defence vessels. The firm was the leading builders and designers for hull and machinery of the “Sir David Hunter” class and 6 rescue class tugs;
  • 1946
    The “Empire Sorcerer” was launched in February, a unique twice screw, bow-well, combined trailing and suction cutting hopper dredger designed to load 2000 tons per hour for service in the tropics;
  • 1952
    The company built a diesel electric power barge, “GP 2”, for oil drilling operations in Venezuela. This was the first of its type to be built in the UK;
  • 1955
    Lady Cameron, wife of Sit John Cameron, a director of David MacBrayne & Co., named and launched motor ship “Loch Ard;
  • 1958
    Fergusons’ had the distinction of launching the first vessel for the new state of Ghana, formally the Gold Coast, a twin screw steam tug named “Mensah Sarbah”;
  • 1961
    Taken over by Lithgow's Limited, one of the best known names in British shipbuilding, and run as a separate entity within the Scott Lithgow group;
  • 1966
    The first of three diesel electric twin screw, with twin side pipes, trailing suction hopper dredgers for the British Transport Docks Board, “Baglan”, was named and launched in May;
  • 1970
    The “Marinex V”, a £1m suction hopper gravel dredger and could dredge to a depth of 46m was launched;
  • 1977
    The yard is nationalised and subsumed into British Shipbuilders;
  • 1980
    Ferguson Brothers merged with the Ailsa shipyard in Troon to form Ferguson-Ailsa Limited;
  • 1986
    The grouping is split and re-privatised with Ferguson’s once again in control of its own destiny;
  • 1989
    Three years later, the yard is acquired by Greenock-based engineering firm Clark Kincaid and starts trading as Ferguson Shipbuilders;
  • 1990
    Clark Kincaid itself is acquired by Kvaerner and becomes Kvaerner Kincaid;
  • 1991
    Ferguson Shipbuilders Ltd. is sold by Kvaerner to Ferguson Marine plc;
  • 1992
    More excitement - as The Queen visits Port Glasgow and launches MV Pharos for The Northern Lighthouse Board;
  • 1995-2014
    An unbroken run of almost twenty years shipbuilding with many prestigious contracts including multi-million pound ferries for Caledonian MacBrayne, a roll on/roll off terminal for Western ferries, patrol vessels for the Fisheries Protection Agency, aircraft carrier modules and dredgers;
  • 1995
    Ferguson Marine is acquired by the Holland House Electrical Group;
  • 2000
    The Queen returns to launch the impressive MV Hebrides for Caledonian McBrayne;
  • 2011
    In the face of strong competition from European shipbuilders, Ferguson’s win the £22m contract to build the world's first hybrid-powered ferries, creating around 100 new jobs and putting down its marker for marine innovation;
  • 2012
    The launch of MV Hallaig, the first of the two pioneering hybrid ferries;
  • 2014
    August - Despite leading the world with the Hybrid Ferry concept, a lack of long term investment in the yard and the general decline of commercial shipbuilding on the Clyde finally catch up with Ferguson’s and the company goes into administration;
  • 2014
    September - Clyde Blowers Capital, led by entrepreneur, Jim McCall OBE, steps in to buy the company, renaming it Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd, saving almost 100 jobs and bringing to an immediate halt the loss of the last shipbuilders on the Clyde;
  • 2014
    The new and revitalised Ferguson Marine wins the Scottish Government contract for a third hybrid ferry for Caledonian MacBrayne;
  • 2015+
    Clyde Blowers Capital is investing an initial £12 million in the shipyard and its new management team, and anticipate growing the workforce to over 400.
    The acquisition of Mackellar Sub-Sea of Grantown-on-Spey in May widens the Ferguson Marine offering into the rapidly expanding offshore renewables market and reflects the kind of forward thinking that will take Ferguson Marine far beyond its previous position as a successful shipyard and onto the global market place, offering world class design and build capability.
  • 2015
    October: Ferguson Marine are awarded the £97 million (USD 150 million) contract to build two 100-metre, dual-fuel ferries for CMAL, securing the immediate future of the yard and confirming projected growth of the workforce to 400 by the end of 2016.
  • 2015
    December: Launch of the MV Catriona, the third Hybrid ferry for CMAL, marking the end of traditional ‘build, launch and fit-out’ shipbuilding at the yard. From this point, all vessels will be built and totally fitted out in sections, under cover in the new shed complex as part of the £12 million development scheme.

Further Information

Find out more about us and our services by calling us on 01475 742 300 or emailing us at enquiries@fergusonmarine.com