John Lewis & Sons Ltd.

Shipbuilders 1907 - 1976

The shipbuilding firm of John Lewis & Sons Ltd. specialised in cargo and fishing vessels. One of their most famous was Fairtry, the first purpose-built factory stern trawler.

John Lewis & Sons Ltd was established in 1907 by Andrew Lewis. His father John had been a wooden boatbuilder in Cove. He then built up a marine engine production and repair business in Aberdeen.

The firm did not build any ships until 1917, when the First World War created a demand for new shipping. Lewis constructed coasters and drifters but later concentrated on cargo vessels.

During the Second World War, Lewis built more than thirty vessels, including minesweeper trawlers and patrol vessels. The company continued to specialise in steam and diesel trawlers after the war. However, they also built the sail training vessel Malcolm Miller in 1968.

The trawler Fairtry was completed in 1954. This vessel was equipped for filleting and freezing its catch at sea. Fish meal and oil could also be produced. The blocks of filleted fish produced aboard Fairtry were used by Birdseye and Ross to make fish fingers.

In 1972, John Lewis & Sons Ltd. was taken over by the Wood Group. The Group had a number of fishing industry interests, including vessel ownership and fish processing. However, by this date, it was expanding into services for the oil industry.

In 1976 a new 1600 ton slipway was constructed by the Wood Group, suitable for the repair of offshore supply vessels. The yard then began to concentrate on such repair work, although it continued to build occasional vessels until the 1980s.

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