William Simons Ship Plans Preservation Project

This project to preserve the 19th century plans of ships constructed by William Simons & Co Ltd. was awarded a grant in 2013.

Simons started as a shipbuilding company in Greenock, Inverclyde, Scotland in 1810, and the collection of Simons’ plans includes some of the oldest ship plans in the archives. The size of the Simons collection, with 680 plans of 156 vessels, and the fact that it contains 85% of the total of pre-1870 ship plans held by Glasgow University Archives Service, make it an invaluable resource of information on the construction of ships in nineteenth century Clydeside. This project will ensure the ongoing preservation of these plans, allowing researchers greater access to information on the full extent of the Clyde’s shipbuilding industry in the period.

The national importance of these plans draws in part on the significance of blockade running to the Clydeside economy throughout the American Civil War. The Confederate need for manufactured goods provided a great stimulus to shipbuilding and heavy industry. Shipbuilders based on the Clyde built a great many of the ships that ran the blockade. Whilst Archive Services holds the records of a large proportion of these shipbuilders, plans of only 3 blockade runners (all built by Simons) are held within these collections. 

The project was supervised by Elzbieta Gorska-Wiklo, Preservation Manager and Paper Conservator at Glasgow University Archive Services. Preservation Assistant Colin Vernall, a PhD candidate in History of Art at University of Glasgow, and was on secondment to Archives Services from the University Library for the duration of the project. For part of the project the team also included student volunteer Luke Doyle, undergraduate student at the University of Kent, where he was reading History and Philosophy of Art. 

You can see more images of the collection and read about the project on Flickr and you can also see a gallery of images below - click on each image to see it at full size. All images courtesy of University of Glasgow.

 

2013
William Simons ship plans before conservation.
William Simons ship plans before conservation.
Elzbieta Gorska-Wiklo working on the ships plans.
Elzbieta Gorska-Wiklo working on the ships plans.
Ships No.153 Jason & No.154 Migota, Lines (UGD114/153/1).
Ships No.153 Jason & No.154 Migota, Lines (UGD114/153/1).