Part of the research for our exhibitions includes finding out about these people and their experiences. We will be featuring
our research here as it progresses. Check back here to see the profiles of the people who together made up Fairfield’s workforce.
Fairfield would not have come into being in the first place were it not for the determination of a number of key people:
Between the mid-nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the heyday of shipbuilding on the Clyde, Govan was at the centre of the industry and the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company was the largest and most successful of all the yards on the Clyde. It began as the yard of Randolph, Elder & Co. which later became John Elder & Co under the direction of John Elder. He was a talented marine engineer who developed the compound engine, a great innovation which transformed shipbuilding by allowing ships to use fuel more efficiently and thereby travel farther distances. Under William Pearce, the company became the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company and continued to flourish. It became famous for building naval warships, passenger liners and luxurious steamers. The shipyard prospered with twelve different ships being commissioned in a single year, during 1912.
Marine engineer and owner of one of the leading Clydeside businesses at the forefront of iron steamship construction.
David Elder (1785-1866)
Marine engineer, manager and technical expert within Napier’s business.
Charles Randolph (1809-1863)
Managing partner of Randolph & Elliot, and later Randolph, Elder & Co with David Elder’s son, John.
John Elder (1824-1869)
Son of David Elder, worked at Napier’s business and formed John Elder & Co from the firm he partnered with Charles Randolph. Described as a “foremost leader in marine architecture and steamship construction”.
Isabella Elder (1829-96)
Wife of John Elder who managed her husband’s business when he died until it was acquired by her brother JF Ure, JLK Jamieson and William Pearce.
William Pearce (1833-1888)
Manager of Napier’s yard, became sole partner of John Elder & Co in 1878 and formed the Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co., creating a world leader in ship design and marine engineering.