Given evolving public health considerations, the Fairfield Heritage team have had to take the difficult decision to postpone public access to the Fairfield Heritage visitor centre for the first part of this year, we will review this at the end of July 2021 and hope to be open soon after.

Shipbuilding and Fairfield’s ships

Painting the hull of a ship during Kvaerner's ownership of the yard

Fairfield built luxurious ocean liners, steamers and naval ships for the world. It was a major warship builder, turning out many vessels for the Royal Navy and other navies during the First World War and the Second World Wars.


You can download a list of all the ships built at Fairfield here or visit to search for vessels built at the yard since 1968 when it became home to the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders and subsequently Govan Shipbuilders, British Shipbuilders, Kvaerner Govan and BAE Systems Surface Ships.


Despite the decline of the shipbuilding industry in more recent years, Fairfield has undergone a number of transformations under different owners and has survived to become one of only two major shipyards still in operation on the Clyde today. Fairfield is now part of BAE Systems. Its importance to the people of Govan is still evident; in a recent survey 40% of people questioned knew someone who had worked at Fairfield.

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 travel further. Under William Pearce, the company became the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company and continued to flourish.



Shipbuilding and heavy engineering slipped into recession at the end of WWI. During the 1920s and inter-war years unemployment and a gradual decline in the industry and population was seen on Clydeside. Fairfield, however, Clydeside’s largest shipyard, built many famous ships for customers which included Anchor Line, Donaldson Line, Canadian Pacific Line and Orient Line.



Unfortunately due to the uncertainty around the coronavirus and in consultation with our team of volunteers, we have decided to close Fairfield Heritage until further notice. We have also postponed our walking tour and evening talk on 25th March. Please keep check back for updates!

Between the mid-nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the heyday of shipbuilding on the Clyde, Govan was at the centre of the industry.

Whatever your age or experience we can offer a range of learning opportunities. From education groups to community visits.

We are looking for volunteers. To find out more about the huge variety of opportunities to support us, go to Get Involved in the Heritage site.

There's lots going on at Fairfield Heritage Centre. Get the latest Fairifeld news and find out what's on via our EVENTS section.

Once described as the jewel in the crown of Govan, the restored building provides a magnificent venue for all for all kinds of events.