The company was founded by John Laird in 1824 as Birkenhead Ironworks in Liverpool. It launched its first ship in 1840. In 1903 it merged with Charles Cammell & Company Limited and, as Cammell Laird, went on to build numerous ships for the Royal Navy. In 1976 its transport division, which traded as Metro-Cammell, secured a major order to build mass transit railway carriages for the Hong Kong Mass Transit System.
In the 1977 its shipbuilding business was nationalised and in 1989 it disposed of its mass transit railway activities. In the 1980s it moved into security products and in 1994 into electronics. In 2000 it disposed of its automotive industry activities and more recently, in 2007, it disposed of its security business. In 2008 it changed its name from Laird Group PLC to Laird PLC.
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