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Ships for all Nations (ePub)

John Brown & Company Clydebank 1847-1971

Maritime > Seaforth Publishing > Seaforth: Iron & Steel Maritime > Ship Modelling

By Ian Johnston
Seaforth Publishing
File Size: 237.4 MB (.epub)
Pages: 384
Illustrations: 400 illustrations
ISBN: 9781848322684
Published: 21st October 2015


£16.00 Print price £40.00

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Ship Monthly's June 2016 book of the month!

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The Clydebank shipyard built some of the most famous vessels in maritime history – great transatlantic liners like Lusitania, Queen Mary and QE2, and iconic warships like the battlecruiser Hood, and Britain's last battleship, HMS Vanguard. Starting life as J & G Thomson in 1847, the business acquired its more famous persona when taken over in 1899 by the Sheffield-based steelmaker John Brown & Co, which enhanced the yard's existing reputation for turning out first-class products, both naval and mercantile.

This book charts the fortunes of the company in terms of its business development, its management and personnel, as well as the great variety of ships it built during the century and a quarter of its existence. It also tells a wider story of the rise to world domination of the British shipbuilding industry and its eventual decline and collapse in the post-war decades, as reflected in the experience of John Brown.

Written by an acknowledged authority on Clydeside shipbuilding, the book was originally published in a limited edition in 2000, but this reprint is entirely new and revised, although it retains all the original photographs from the yard's own unrivalled collection.

As featured by

NEPTUNUS, January 2019

This is a great pictorial coverage of a fine and famous ship building company. There is a forward by John Brown himself, obviously from some years ago. The photographs are clear and carefully chosen to be informative and interesting. Naturally with a pictorial coverage the amount of text is limited, but none the less keeps one informed as the years progress. The photographs were all fresh to me, but also gave a new look at ships we are all familiar with, but perhaps not in their various stages of construction.

Malcolm Wright, Australian Maritime Artist & Author

Wonderful job.

Neptunus, August 2017 – reviewed by Louis Van Cant

The author is from a shipbuilding family and has written a number of fine books on ships and shipbuilding on the Clyde. This new book is lavishly illustrated in large format and have been carefully produced by the publisher.This is a very important story that has been told well, highly recommended.

Read the full review here.


... The book was originally published in a limited edition in 2000, but this reprint is entirely new and revised, although it retains all the original photographs from the yard's own unrivalled collection. I would very highly recommend it.

Shipping Today and Yesterday, September 2016

This is an extremely impressive volume, which covers the history of the famous Clydebank shipyard that built some of the most famous vessels in maritime history, including the liners Lusitania, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth 2. Although it is essentially a second edition of the author's previous book, Ships for a Nation, it has expanded appendices and more photographs, making it the definitive history of the
world-renowned John Brown shipyard. Its author, a maritime history researcher par excellence, has published a number of works on the shipyard's history and is the undisputed authority in his subject.

Whilst Clydebank is associated with John Brown's shipyard, the book also examines the establishment of shipbuilding on the Clyde with a detailed account of Clydebank's founders, the Finnieston Engine Works, and its 1899 takeover by the Sheffield steel producer and cutter John Brown & Co.

This beautifully produced volume constitutes the largest and most comprehensive maritime history work published in 2015, and is a worthy investment for anyone with a interest in maritime history, notably shipbuilding.

Ships Monthly/June 2016

Originally published as a limited edition in 2000, this reprint is entirely new and revised, although it retains all the original photographs from the yard's own unrivalled collection. Starting life in 1847 as J&G Thomson, the business was taken over in 1899 by the Sheffield-based steel-maker John Brown & Co and continued to turn out both naval and mercantile vessels. Famous transatlantic liners such as Lusitania, Queen Mary and QE2, and important warships like the battle cruiser Hood were all built by this distinguished company. This comprehensive history plots the fortunes of the company together with the great variety of ships it built and the people who built them. It also tells a wider story of the rise to world domination of the British shipbuilding industry and its eventual decline and collapse in the post-war decades. A handsomely presented hardback book, essential to anyone's maritime collection.

Sea Breezes/May 2016

Although the book is primarily aimed at those interested in the history of shipbuilding, some of the many photographs would certainly interest the ship modeller as they show images of parts of the ships not normally seen in other ship books. I would therefore recommend this book mainly for its historical content, but some parts would undoubtedly interest the modeller.

IPMS Magazine Mar/Apr 16

A highly detailed and accurate history is presented, supported by a comprehensive collection of photographs...

... Only occasionally does one come across a book which really does have the "Wow Factor". The combination of such a detailed account backed by thorough research and the spectacular photography makes this book one of these rarities. Well worth the price and thoroughly recommended.

Warship World - March/April 2016

If the book contained only the ca. 400 well-captioned photos, it would be a winner. Add the authoritative text, not to mention the other two books in this trilogy and you have a grand, far-ranging reference-level treatment of all the things large and small at this singularly important shipmaker. Even readers with only automobile leanings would find a good deal that is of crossover-interest here in terms of industrialization, technology, and people (e.g. the Napier family).

Almost a third of the book consists of 11 Appendices ranging from bios to Profit and Loss statements to a complete (to the extent such a thing is possible) Ship List. Chapter Notes appear in bulk at the end (which necessitates a lot of page shuffling but thankfully the book’s properly rounded spine can take such stresses), followed by a proper Bibliography and a meticulously done Index.

Considering that there remain thousands of unpublished images in the Clydebank Colletion, this is surely, hopefully not Johnston’s last book.

speedreaders.info - Sabu Advani

Shipbuilding was tough and unsafe work well shown in the book's copious pictures. Many early glass plate pictures are of very high quality. This is an excellent company and yard history.
For anyone interested in shipbuilding or Clydeside history I highly recommend this book.

The Journal of the Society of Model & Experimental Engineers

As featured in

Marine Model Magazine Jan 2016

Ships for all Nations encapsulates John Brown and Company's shipbuilding ascendency through to its demise which saw their products and markets eroded over time and emerging competition. The work is a worthy tribute to the John Brown company and to British shipbuilding generally and is a joy to enthusiasts of the great ships of the past, depicted in magnificent period photographs. This Seaforth Publishing edition fully lives up to that of the publisher's established high standards of specialist maritime books and is unreservedly recommended.

Australian Naval Institute

This is the profusely illustrated, beautifully produced and very detailed story of John Brown & Company, Clydebank, once Britain’s flagship shipyard, that latterly produced such as SS Lusitania, HMS Hood, RMS Queen Mary, RMS Queen Elizabeth, and Britain’s last battleship HMS Vanguard and at the other end designed the LCG(M). It is, in passing, also a history of ships (merchant and naval), shipping lines and shipbuilding generally, from the inception of the iron steamship to the late 20th century. It is also a social history of Clydebank and to an extent Glasgow and the Clyde, as field and orchard gave way to yard, foundry and tenement housing along the river bank. Shipbuilding itself is covered in fine detail, both commercially and technically with, in the latter case, numerous photographs of the yard and its processes. All these things are seen through the prism of Brown’s, starting with its founding Thompson family and chronicling their rise and fall. The story is also an exemplar of Britain’s centuries-old social mobility available to those with a bit of push backed by professional ability...

... This most informative book will appeal to many specialist, even niche interests, from all types of maritime enthusiast to those who care about the history of Britain’s second city. I would give it 4½ stars out of 5 for those with an interest in ships and the sea.

Army Rumour Service

'Ian Johnston has produced a fine collection of information and images providing a comprehensive history of John Brown and Company in Clydebank from 1847-1971.'

Clydebank Post
 Ian Johnston

About Ian Johnston

IAN JOHNSTON is a well-known authority on Clydeside shipbuilding and the historian of both John Brown’s and Beardmore’s. His training as a graphic designer is to be seen in the superb choice of photographs from the John Brown collection in Clydebank Battlecruisers and A Shipyard at War. This new book is a labour of love as Ian’s father worked for Thermotank, whose achievements he felt deserved wider public recognition.

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