Déjà vu all over again! : the reluctant rise and protracted demise of Scott Lithgow Limited
This thesis charts the growth and demise of the two largest shipbuilding firms on the Lower Clyde in Scotland, Scotts' Shipbuilding & Engineering Company Limited of Greenock, [established 1711 ] and Lithgows Limited of Port Glasgow [established as Russell & Company in 1874 and as Lithgows Limited in 1918]. The history of each firm is considered separately, with more emphasis on Lithgows, in order to give the reader a fuller perspective of their respective growth and internal and external dynamics. The bulk of the thesis, however, is concentrated in the post-1945 period with emphasis on the protracted merger of the shipbuilding interests of Scotts' and Lithgows to form Scott Lithgow Limited in 1970. Thereafter, the history of the merged firm is considered in detail, including its disastrous entry into the giant tanker market up to the nationalisation of the British shipbuilding industry in July 1977 when the firm was transferred to the control of the State Corporation, British Shipbuilders. From there, including an even more disastrous entry into the large offshore structures market, the period of nationalisation is then analysed up to March 1984 when Scott Lithgow became the first British Shipbuilders constituent shipyard to be privatised when it was controversially sold to the industrial conglomerate Trafalgar House plc. Trafalgar House, with no previous experience of building complex semi submersibles was unable to resurrect Scott Lithgow's tarnished reputation in the offshore market. Accordingly. the yard was put on a care and maintenance basis in 1988 from which it never recovered. In considering the complex history of Scotts' and Lithgows through what is in effect a micro study, it is hoped that this thesis will identify certain parallels in the demise of Scott Lithgow that will enhance our knowledge of cause and effect in the overall decline of the British shipbuilding industry.