puffers & vics



Burrell & Sons, Hamiltonhill



In 1857 George Burrell had established his shipping and forwarding business at Port Dundas on the Monklands Canal (a spur of the Forth and Clyde Canal) in Glasgow.When joined in the business by his son in 1858 they began to trade as Burrell & Son. In 1876 George's grandson, William, later Sir William, joined the firm at the age of 15.  

Their building yard operated at Hamiltonhill on the Monklands Canal about three-quarters of a mile north west of the Port Dundas docks. Records indicate that they built twelve steam lighters there plus, in 1877, a steam yacht named the "Nellie". Four of these lighters were for their own use and eight were for other operators. The site is now occupied by the HQ of Scottish Canals where often a collection of various types of canal boats can be seen.

Sir William Burrell


The firm operated their small puffer fleet to carry transhipment cargoes to and from their ocean going vessels, which were their main business. They also often engaged in buying and selling ships and it was their shrewdness in this activity, i.e. buying when the market for ships was low and re-selling when it rose, that really made their fortunes and enabled Sir William to amass the world-famous "Burrell Collection" of some 6,000 antiquities and works of art which he donated to his home city of Glasgow in 1944 along with almost half a million pounds to build a home for them. The collection is now on display in a purpose-built gallery in the rural setting of Pollock Park in the city.

Sadly, because of the prominence of his ocean-going shipping business and his art collecting, the steam lighter side of the Burrell business is not very .well documented