Walter MacLellan (1815-1889)

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Walter MacLellan was co-founder and subsequently senior partner in the firm of P.& W. MacLellan, iron, steel and machinery merchants . Described as "an excellent example of the old type of Glasgow citizen", he built a small family hardware business into a major engineering company. The firm of P.& W. MacLellan continued under that name until1997 and remains an active company.

Oil industry interests


The Late Mr. Walter MacLellan of Clutha Ironworks.

Today there will be consigned to their last resting place, in Row Churchyard, the mortal remains of an old and worthy citizen of Glasgow, in the person of Mr Walter MacLellan, who was for a long period the senior partner of the old-established and well-known firm of P. & W. MacLellan, Clutha Ironworks, Plantation, and iron and steel and machinery merchant; Trongate. The deceased, who was born in the month of August, 1815, died on Monday at his residence at Blairvaddich. Row, on the Gareloch, so that he had almost completed the seventy-fourth year of his age; and his death took place within a comparatively short distance of the farm where he was born. He had been laid aside through declining health for the greater part of the past year.

The business with which Mr MacLellan was so long and so honourably connected may be said to originated so far back as the year 1811 in a small hardware concern which was established by to his uncle, Donald MacLellan, is a shop on the same site as that now occupied by the firm's extensive premises in the Trongate. In course of years that concern passed into the hands of his elder brother, and then, in the month of November 1831. Walter found his way to the great city, and became a partner in the very modest business, which had now been in existence for about twenty years. Very shortly afterwards the brothers resolved on adding a smithwork business to that which was carried on in the sale shop. The smithy was started in the New Wynd, just in rear of the Trongate premises, and in course of time this became a somewhat important establishment, both as to the extent which it increased and to the new developments which arose in it, these eventually including general engineering and the manufacture of bolts nuts, rivets, &c. In connection it is especially worthy of mention that the ironwork of Portland Street Suspension Bridge was manufactured on the site where the Trongate warehouse now stands, as Messrs MacLellan being the contractors for the the bridge.

The two brothers put their abilities and their enterprise into both branches of the business - the mercantile and the productive - with the utmost of their energy; and the latter by and by has increased so greatly that the firm found it necessary to open extensive works-the original " Clutha" Works in Adelphi Street, Hutchesontown That was we believe, in the year 1853; and during the next 18 or 20 years they developed a manufacturing business in the Adelphi Street works which even now would by many people be regarded as gigantic. These premises in the course of years also proved to be too limited in extent for the manufacturing business, which grew in Messrs MacLellan's hands, chiefly through the rapid development of the railway system in India and the colonies and at home. The firm acquired a most eligible site in the Plantation district, close by the Glasgow and Paisley Joint Railway, and thereby they secured in ready facilities for obtaining the raw materials of their manufactures, their coal, coke, &c., and for in dispatching their finished goods to all parts of the world. By this time Mr Peter MacLellan had died, and the younger of the two brothers had become the head of the great concern. He had in association with him, however, several close relatives, who proved to be able lieutenants in their respective departments of work-commercial and manufacturing.

The new Clutha Works that were in due course erected on the Plantation site, which extends to about 15 acres, were fully taken possession of in the year 1874, and collectively these works form one of the greatest engineering factories of its kind in the world. In the new Clutha Works there are frequently on the pay-sheets the names of from 1500 to 2000 work people, notwithstanding of the fact that labour-saving appliances are in use in every direction where mechanism can profitably be employed. Having got the new Clutha Works thoroughly established, the deceased senior partner of the firm was in a, position to rest from his labours much more than was the case 30 or 40 years ago and ultimately, in 1883 be retired from the business, which he had done so much to create and establish. He did so in favour of the present partners, three of whom are his sons and the others relatives.

The gentleman who has just passed away, in the fullness of years, never became a public Man in the ordinary sense of the term. He had no ambition to mix himself up with the fervid workers in parochial, municipal, ecclesiastical, or imperial politics and yet in each of those braches of public policy he bad his own firm convictions. Nor did he become much engaged in any other departments of public work. He was, however, a Justice of the Peace for the Lower Ward of Lanarkshire and for his native county of Dumbarton. For the last quarter of a century or thereby he resided at Blairvaddich, which he much preferred to town life. He was twice married, and is survived by his widow and three sons and three daughters, Up to his death Mr. MacLellan was the chairman of The Glasgow and Londonderry Steamship Company, the oldest concern of the kind in the world. He succeeded his uncle. Mr Lewis MacLellan, in that post, and the concern has as its managing Partner the well-known and much-esteemed Mr Alexander A. Laird. The deceased was likewise the chair of the Scottish board of directors of the Queen Insurance Company.

In respect of his political proclivities he was an ardent Conservative, and also took the Conservative side in the Politics of the Free Church, with which he was connected at the time of the Disruption. He was a warm and liberal supporter of the Free Church. and for many years an elder in John Knox's Church, Glasgow - Jonathan Anderson's of thirty or forty years ago. In private life he was a most. estimable mean, honourable in all his dealings and charitable in a very marked degree. Universally respected by those persons who had the pleasure of his acquaintance, and an excellent example of the old type of Glasgow citizen. Out of respect for the memory of the deceased, the works and the warehouse will remain closed today.

The Glasgow Herald, 21st June 1889