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British Industrial History

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Boyd and Co (of Shanghai)

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The British in Shanghai dominated the ship repairing and shipbuilding trade. This largely began with the creation of the first large British shipyard with the formation of Boyd & Co. At the end of the 19th century, they were one of three large European-run shipbuilding and repairing businesses in Shanghai and employed hundreds of people.[1]

In 1901 they merged with former competitor S. C. Farnham and had a total capital of £750,000. Together they became Farnham Boyd and Co.

1906 They changed their name to Shanghai Dock & Engineering Co.

1936 They again merged with a competitor, this time the New Shipbuilding and Engineering Works, and became the Shanghai Dockyard Ltd.[2]

One major figure in the company’s history is John Prentice.

Vessels the company built include a steel tug named “Artillerist” in 1894 and steel steamer “Bureia” in 1900 which was used by the Chinese Eastern Railway Company.[3].

1894 Charles W. Hay was the director and John Prentice was the Managing Director. Herbert J Stockton acted as a London agent for them from 16 Philpot Lane, EC.

In 1898 Arthur Skelton Wimble moved to China to work as their Chief Draughtsman for several years. [4]

In 1902 they were contracted by the US government to build ten small gunships for use in the Philippines, presumably for use in the Philippine–American War.[5]. In 1902 they owned a steel screw steamer of 2,946 tons called Müchen. [6]

In 1950 the Communists took power in China and what followed were tit-for-tat requisitions between them and the British government. In 1952 court decisions both in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong disallowed the People’s Republic of China’s claims to ownership over 71 aircraft in Hong Kong. In response Shanghai’s Military Control Commission issued an order on the 15th August 1952 to requisition all the assets of Shanghai Dockyards Limited and Moller’s Shipbuilding and Engineering Works Limited.[7] By the end of 1952, 236 British business – 53% of British capital in China – had been liquidated, by 1956 it was 93.1% with the last British firm closing in 1959.[8]

In 1975 the few hundred shareholders of Shanghai Dockyard Limited were surprised by a takeover bid from London bank Hill Samuel on behalf of an Australian customer. It was unexpected as the company by then only existed on paper, though it had $400,000 frozen in the US. However only 16% of the shares came to light, the rest having been lost.[9]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1898/08/09
  2. Foreign Investment and Economic Development in China, 1840 -1937 by Chi-Ming Hou, page 82
  3. Lloyd’s Register Collection, Shanghai Port, LRF/PUN/SHI1151
  4. Engineering 1927/05/27
  5. Dundee Evening Post, Saturday 08 March 1902, page 5
  6. Homeward Mail from India, China and the East, Monday 13 October 1902, page 2
  7. “The Fate of British and French Firms in China, 1949-54: Imperialism Imprisoned” by A Shai, page 21
  8. “The Everyday Cold War: Britain and China, 1950-1972”, by Chi-kwan Mark, page 38
  9. Der Spiegel, 30/06/1975, page 54