W. & W. McOnie
Messrs. W. & W. McOnie, Engineers, Scotland Street Engine Works.—
Both by reason of the personality of its well-known principal, and on account of the highly influential character of its industrial operations, the house of Messrs. W. & W. McOnie, engineers, and controllers of the extensive Scotland Street Engine Works, is one of the most notable of representative manufacturing concerns in Glasgow to-day. This important business was founded in 1840 by Mr. William McOnie, senior, a native of Gartmore, Perthshire, who commenced operations in engineering in that year, in conjunction with his brother. The latter gentleman died ten years later, and in 1851 Mr. McOnie was joined by another brother, Mr. Andrew McOnie. This partnership endured until 1886, when it was solved by the death of Mr. Andrew McOnie. At this point the business was not far short of half a century old, and had enjoyed from the very first a career of continuous development, its progress being well fostered by the most capable and judicious management. Mr. William McOnie, senior, having purchased two large estates (Ballochneck and Balwill), in Stirlingshire, decided to retire finally from the control of the house and take a well-merited rest. His life had been an exceptionally busy one, both in a public and in a private sense, and he had thoroughly earned the otium cum dignitate which is generally looked expectantly forward to by even the most indefatigable workers as a desirable terminus to an active career. Accordingly, in 1886, Mr. McOnie handed over the business to his son, of the same name as himself, a gentleman of thorough business capacity and experience, and made, as he thought, his definitive retirement from commercial pursuits. He was fated to a cruel disappointment, for, in 1887, Mr. William McOnie, junior, died, and his father has now come forward once more and, with thoroughly characteristic energy, reassumed the direction of the concern with which his name and presence have for nearly fifty years been associated. The firm name, W. & W. McOnie, is still retained.
The business may be described as that of a general engineer, all branches of the science and industry of engine construction and high-class machinery manufacture being to some extent exemplified. But the firm are disposed to more particularly confine their operations to the department of sugar-mill work, in which, probably, their greatest celebrity and reputation have been achieved. They have done an enormous volume of business in the construction of sugar-working plant for estates in the West Indies and other tropical countries where sugar is cultivated. Contracts are undertaken for the complete equipment of works for extracting the sugar from the cane at the plantation ; and home orders are also executed in the fitting up of sugar refineries with every requisite of plant and apparatus. In these undertakings Messrs. McOnie have an international reputation, and are famous for the high effective power of their manufactures. The firm engage in the making of boilers and engines, but principally when these form part of a sugar-mill or sugar-estate plant outfit.
The works of the house, situate at the comer of West and Scotland Streets (South Side), and close to the line of the Paisley Joint Railway, are very extensive, and cover an area of about ten thousand square yards. They are admirably placed in point of general convenience, and are equipped throughout with the best modern machinery. This firm usually employs a very large force of hands, and possess every facility for the effectual conduct of the great industry to which they are devoted. Here are to be seen numerous immense photograph albums, containing photographic reproductions of the various classes of machinery in which the firm have made so eminent a name and reputation.
Mr. Wm. McOnie, the active principal of this old-established house, is one of the best known and most highly respected of modem Glaswegians. In 1867 he was elected to the Town Council, in 1869-70 he held office as deputy and river bailie, and in 1879 was elected a city magistrate. He is a member of the Govan Parochial and School Boards, and was instrumental, together with Bailie Wilson, in erecting the Maxwell, Kinning Park, and Pollockshields parish churches. Mr. McOnie is also chairman of the British and African Royal Mail Steamship Company, having twenty-two steamers, trading between Liverpool, Hamburg, and the west coast of Africa, and is a director of a large mercantile business in Glasgow. He is one of the originators and a member of the executive in connection with the International Exhibition, Glasgow, 1888. His municipal services have been long-continued and valuable, and a fitting appreciation of his efforts in behalf of the general community was shown in his election to the chair of the Lord Provost in 1883, which exalted office he filled with credit and dignity during three successive years. His municipal career closed with the presentation of his portrait by the Corporation of the city he had so ably served for so long a period. Mr. McOnie’s whole personal career has been one of unremitting activity ; and by his constant energy, enterprise, and sound principles has firmly established under his name a business which extends its present operations over a universal field of action, and enjoys the full confidence of a world-wide connection.
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