Sir William Arrol & Co was a highly acclaimed civil engineering business established in the 1870`s. The company were responsible for building a number of bridges throughout the country, notably the Tay Rail Bridge, the Forth Rail Bridge, Southwark Bridge and Tower Bridge. The original Tay Bridge had of course collapsed just 18 months after it was opened in 1878, killing 75 people. The bridge had been designed by railway engineer Thomas Bouch but following its demise Sir William Arrol & Co was entrusted to re-build it. The company also built bridges as far afield as Egypt (the Nile Bridge) and Australia (the Hawkesbury Bridge), and constructed the gantry which held the doomed Titanic when she was being built. Following the death of William Arrol in 1913 the company continued until 1969 when it was obtained by Clarke Chapman.
The company’s founder, William Arrol, was a Scottish engineer born in Houston, Renfrewshire in 1839. Having started work in a cotton mill at just nine years of age, by 1872 Arrol was running his own business, the Dalmarnock Iron Works, in Glasgow`s East End. His subsequent success with William Arrol & Co led to his knighthood in 1890, and “Sir” was accordingly added to the company’s name. An extremely innovative engineer, Arrol invented a number of methods and machines which proved to save considerable time and money. Following his death in 1913 he was buried in Woodside Cemetery, Paisley.