Yarrow, Sir Alfred Fernandez

SUBJECT AREA: Ports and shipping
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b. 13 January 1842 London, England
d. 24 January 1932 London, England
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English shipbuilder, naval architect, engineer and philanthropist.
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At the conclusion of his schooling in the South of England, Yarrow became an indentured apprentice to the Thames engine-builder Ravenhill. During this five-year period various incidents and meetings sharpened his interest in scientific matters and he showed the skills that in later years were to be so beneficial to shipbuilding. For two years he acted as London representative for Ravenhill before joining up with a Mr Hedley to form a shipyard on the Isle of Dogs. The company lasted from 1868 until 1875 and in that period produced 350 small launches and other craft. This massive output enabled Yarrow to gain confidence in many aspects of ship design. Within two years of setting out on his own he built his first ship for the Royal Navy: a torpedo boat, then at the cutting edge of technology.
In the early 1890s the company was building watertube boilers and producing destroyers with speeds in excess of 27 knots (50 km/h); it built the Russian destroyer Sokol, did pioneering work with aluminium and with high-tensile steels and worked on shipboard equipment to nullify vibrational effects. With the closure of most of the Thames shipyards and the run-down in skilled labour, Yarrow decided that the shipyard must move to some other part of the United Kingdom. After careful deliberation a green field site to the west of Glasgow was chosen, and in 1908 their first Clyde-built destroyer was launched. The company expanded, more building berths were arranged, boiler construction was developed and over the years they became recognized as specialists in smaller highspeed craft and in "knock down" ships for other parts of the world.
Yarrow retired in 1913, but at the commencement of the First World War he returned to help the yard produce, in four years, twenty-nine destroyers with speeds of up to 40 knots (74 km/h). At the end of hostilities he gave of his time and money to many charities, including those for ex-servicemen. He left a remarkable industrial organization which remains to this day the most prolific builder of surface craft for the Royal Navy.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Created Baronet 1916. FRS 1922. Vice-President, Institution of Naval Architects 1896.
Further Reading
Lady Yarrow, 1924, Alfred Yarrow, His Life and Work, London: Edward Arnold. A.Borthwick, 1965, Yarrow and Company Limited, The First Hundred Years 1865–
1965, Glasgow.
B.Baxter, 1986, "Alfred Fernandez Yarrow", Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography, Vol. I, pp. 245–7, Slaven \& Checkland and Aberdeen University Press.
FMW

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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