ABSTRACT

The public perception of Ian MacGregor has always been a confused one, a mixture of strong but often contradictory images. MacGregor was shaped by the effect of the depression around him. Fifty years later he was to make an emotional speech to the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce recalling the twenty-seven months when the great hulk of the partly built Queen Mary lay rusting on the Clydebank slipway, all work stopped. ‘A decade of diversification,’ MacGregor called it as he bought up company after company. AMAX became the world’s largest producer of tungsten, expanded in a variety of other metals and, turning to his origins, MacGregor took it into aluminium, even discussing merger plans with his old employer, British Aluminium. The transfer fee caused outrage across the political spectrum. MacGregor at a stiff introductory press conference made a ponderous reference to a current football transfer worked out with the Employment Minister, Jim Prior, the night before.