David MacBrayne

1817 - 1907

Ship owner. Born in Glasgow, MacBrayne was a nephew of the Glaswegian ship-owning brothers Sir George Burns (1795 - 1890) and James Burns (1789 - 1871). He joined the shipping firm of D. & A. Hutcheson and by the late 1840s was a partner in this company. Hutchesons bought the steamer service to the Inner and Outer Hebrides, which had been set up by J. & G. Burns, in 1851 and set about developing these routes. By 1878, the Hutcheson brothers had retired and MacBrayne took over the company, giving it his own name. His company had a virtual monopoly in the transportation of agricultural goods and passengers to and from the islands. MacBrayne remained in charge into his late 80s, with his sons taking over less than two years before his death. He died at his home in Glasgow and lies buried in the Necropolis there. After his death, the company expanded into road haulage and bus transport, both connecting with the ferries.

The company had mixed fortunes in succeeding years, with more than one rescue package being required to ensure the financial future of what had become a series of life-line services for the islands. MacBraynes was nationalised along with the railways in 1948. In 1969, the company became part of the government-owned Scottish Transport Group (STG). In 1973, MacBraynes was merged with the Caledonian Steam Packet Company, another arm of the STG which ran the Clyde ferries, to become Caledonian MacBrayne with its headquarters in Gourock.

Although with its own management, the company remains with the Scottish Government as its only shareholder. In 2000, it added services to Orkney and Shetland to its portfolio, in partnership with the Royal Bank of Scotland, as Northlink Ferries.

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