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The British East India Company : The John Laird Centre


This building is the Head Office of The British East India Company Limited. This famous building was constructed in 1871 as Britain’s first purpose build college for Art and Science.

The land, construction and running costs were fully financed by Mr John Laird, the son of William Laird the Scottish Philanthropist famous for his founding of Modern Birkenhead and the well known British Shipyard Cammel Lairds Ltd.

The building became internationally known as the Birkenhead College of Art.

The building served as an Art College until 1979 including the periods of two world wars. In 1993, the Directors of Stanton Marine Limited (now part of The British East India Company Limited) purchased the building and in the same year it was completely renovated and re-furnished to become The Company Head Office.

The building was re-named the John Laird Centre in remembrance of John Laird and was officially opened as the head office of Stanton Marine Limited now part of the British East India Company Limited on 11th June 1993 by The Right Honourable the Baroness Chalker of Wallasey (Minister of State For Overseas Development Africa and The Commonwealth.

Cammel Lairds Shipbuilding Company Limited were the builders of most of the ships used by The British East India Company Limited from 1825 through to the company’s final departure from shipping in the early 20th century.

Amongst the most famous ships built by Cammel Lairds was, the worlds first steel ship called 'Ma Roberts' built in 1858 for Dr David Livingstone’s Zambezi Expedition. The vessel was used extensively on the rivers and lakes of East Africa and indeed, the vessel even made a voyage to India from Zanibar and back.


The John Laird Centre

Builders and Architects

THE PAST (1871)
The Builders were:

Alex Bleakly and Company

The Architects were:
J.M Hays and Company

The Completion Date was:
3rd March 1871

The Present (1993)
The Builders were:

Carl Thomson Associates

The Architects were:
Warwick Group Construction Limited

The Completion Date was:
28th May 1993

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