Here at Archive Services we hold a collection of records for John Hastie & Co. Ltd, steering gear manufacturers, on behalf of the National Archives of Scotland (collection ref. GD444). We therefore receive enquiries from people who have acquired part of a ship’s steering gear (usually the indicator plate, which includes the name of the manufacturer and a serial number) and would like to know which ship it relates to.
John Hastie, an engineer and millwright, opened a small works in Greenock in 1845. In 1853, he patented the first self-holding steering gear and went on to produce hand-steering gear of the right- and left-hand screw principle. In 1870, the firm began making steam steering gear. It took on limited liability status in 1898, becoming known as John Hastie & Co. Ltd. From 1903 the company devoted itself to the production of steering gear, and was a pioneer in the 1910s in the field of electric hydraulic steering gear.
Serial numbers were assigned chronologically, however each number was used three times, for screw, steam and hydraulic gear. If you give us a serial number, we can use the Order Books and Drawing Registers we hold to give you the following set of information for each of the three types of gear:
- the name of the shipbuilding company that was the customer
- the yard number (and name, if known at that point) of the ship
- the date that the gear was dispatched
You can order copies of the original entries from us.
From your own knowledge of your artefact, you may be able to identify which of the three ships your gear related to. Alternatively you can commission us to do some further research to narrow it down.
To find out more, contact us here.