History of Cammell Laird
Known across the globe the company has been operating since the late 1820s after being founded by Scottish entrepreneurs William Laird and his son John. It has built more than 1350 ships including many famous and innovative vessels.
The company played a key role in World War I and II both building and repairing vessels. During World War II alone the shipyard produced nearly 200 vessels both commercial and military in support of the UK war effort. Including HMS Rodney, HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Ark Royal.
Cammell Laird has an illustrious history of building aircraft carriers and over the years has built many famous ships. Many vessels built at the yard are famous for the innovative technology they embraced, others gained celebrity for their subsequent careers at sea. The list of notable vessels built by Laird’s includes:
- the Robert F. Stockton, launched 1838, the first screw steamer to cross the Atlantic.
- the Dover of 1840, the first iron ship owned by the British Government.
- HMS Birkenhead 1846, famed for her tragic sinking at the Cape of Good Hope and the bravery of troops ordered to ‘stand fast’ whilst the women and children aboard were saved.
- the Ma Robert, built in 1858 for David Livingstone’s expedition to the Zambesi, and quoted by some sources as the first ever steel ship.
- CSS Alabama, 1862, probably the most famous and most successful Confederate warship of the Americian Civil War.
- The Fullager, 1920, the first all-welded ship in the world.
- HMS Ark Royal, 1938, (28,480 tons 244m x 29m 31 knots) the first British warship to be designed and built as an aircraft carrier and the third ship to be called Ark Royal. She was built to carry 60 aircraft, 1500 crew and was armed with 16, 4.5in guns, 32 two pounders and 32 0.5 guns. Her aircraft were responsible for two torpedo hits on German battleship Bismarck in May 1941 but she was torpedoed and sunk by German U boat U-81 14 November 1941 off Gibraltar. An official enquiry after the war concluded the ship could have been saved with proper applications of counter flooding.
- HMS Ark Royal 1955, (53, 060 tons 220m x 34m 32 knots) the second aircraft carrier of the same name built by Cammell Laird launched by the Queen Mother. She became the Royal Navy’s first large post war aircraft carrier and saw 25 years of service eventually being sold to be broken up in 1980.
- The Cunard White Star passenger liner Mauretania, at the date of her launch in 1938, the largest ship ever built in an English shipyard.
- HMS Devonshire, 1960, Britain’s first guided missile destroyer.