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Sir William Pearce


1833 - 1888

English-born ship-builder. Born in Brompton (Kent), Pearce trained in the Royal Dockyards at Chatham. He moved to Glasgow and in 1864 became manager in Robert Napier's shipyard at Govan. When John Elder died in 1869, Pearce was invited by his widow to become a partner in running that yard. Pearce was responsible for attracting significant new business, including large passenger liners, building a reputation for himself and financial success for the company. He floated John Elder & Co as a public company; the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, but stayed on as Chairman. He was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Govan in 1885 and created a baronet in 1887.

His estate amounted to more than £1 million, an immense fortune at that time. He is buried in St Mary Magdalene (Gillingham, Kent). He is remembered by several memorials in Glasgow, including the Pearce Institute in Govan and the Pearce Lodge, home of the University of Glasgow's Department of Naval Architecture. Pearce had purchased this building on the old university site in the centre of the city and paid for it to be transferred to the new Gilmorehill campus.


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