Shipbuilder and rural developer

Born: March 12, 1932;

Died: November 15, 2015

CHARLES Connell, who has died of heart failure aged 83, headed one of Clydeside's last great shipyards, Scotstoun-based Charles Connell and Company, which at its height provided 1,400 jobs on the Clyde. But after the shipbuilding decline of the 1960s and early '70s in the face of growing foreign competition, he turned to the countryside as a farmer, environmentalist and rural developer.

The Connell company had been founded in 1861 initially to build sailing ships and remained in the family's hands, always run by a Charles Connell, until it became part of the government-owned Upper Clyde Shipbuilders in 1968. That consortium collapsed in 1971, leading to the famous "work-in" headed by shop stewards including Jimmy Reid and Jimmy Airlie. The Connell company name remained as part of Scotstoun Marine Ltd until 1980 when that, too, folded.

Mr Connell then focussed on an entirely new career, maintaining his own company, Charles Connell & Co (Holdings). Brought up on country estates bought with his ancestors' shipbuilding profits, he turned to the land, running two family estates with an environmental eye and creating impressive rural developments. He saw the profit in pig and poultry farming, and fish-farming off Scotland's west coast, as well as in hydro and wind power to replace the traditional energy sources.

Rather than sit on his land, he invested in it with a view to spreading production and creating jobs without negatively affecting the environment. He developed his arable Perthshire estate at Colquhalzie near Gleneagles, where he had spent much of his childhood, into one of multiple economic purpose, producing wheat and malting barley for breweries and local whisky distilleries. He expanded that into pig and mass poultry production, sometimes providing up to five million broiler chickens a year to Scottish butchers and UK supermarkets. Off Argyll, his salmon farm, employing 16 staff, produced up to 1,000 salmon a year before a Norwegian company eyed its profits and bought it over.

At his Highland estate, Garrogie in Inverness-shire, he built up a sporting and agricultural estate which provided over 60 jobs. The sport attracts tourists for stalking and grouse shooting, two of Mr Connell's life-long passions, and until his death he was pressing for tax discounts to keep the operation going. The estate also provides the water for the hydro-electric plants of Scottish & Southern Energy (SSE), said to account for five per cent of Glasgow's electricity.

Despite opposition from some environmental groups, including the John Muir Trust, Mr Connell, backed by SSE, won approval from the Scottish Government last year for a 67-turbine wind farm at Stronelairg, on the Garrogie estate near Fort Augustus. Work was due to start next year but earlier this month, Lord Jones, a judge at the Court of Session, overturned the ruling, saying the turbines, some up to 450ft high would be detrimental to the environment. The Scottish Government is considering an appeal. Saying the wind farm would have brought Mr Connell up to £60million in profits, the Times of London dubbed him "Baron Breeze."

Charles Raymond Connell was born in Kelvinside on March 12, 1932, but brought up partly on the magnificent family estate around Colquhalzie House near Gleneagles, Perthshire, and partly at Craigallian House, a Victorian mansion on a 340-acre estate near Milngavie. Both estates emanated from the family's Clyde shipbuilding business, at the time run by his father Charles, who was married to a New Zealander.

Such a childhood gave him a lifelong love of nature, farming, riding, stalking and fishing and he once survived accidental pellets to the head while out rabbit-shooting with the family butler. He went to Cargilfield Preparatory School in Edinburgh and later Winchester College in Hampshire. Joining the Scots Guards for his national service, he was on standby off Egypt during the Suez crisis but did not see combat.

After only a year at Cambridge, he inevitably joined the family shipbuilding firm, starting off in the drawing office in Scotstoun but, thanks to his name, rising to become managing director when he was only 26, in 1958. Having been forced to suspend all operations due to lack of orders between the two world wars, Charles Connell & Co had risen again through wartime and post-war demand. Its order book was still full when it was forced to join the government-owned Upper Clyde Shipbuilders consortium including Fairfield of Govan and John Brown of Clydebank.

Mr Connell and his father stayed on during the consortium but both could see the Clydeside industry was doomed and invested in land and elsewhere. Mr Connell was therefore a very wealthy industrialist, as well as landowner, even after Clydeside shipbuilding went into dramatic decline.

Charles Connell's wife Tugela died of cancer in 2009. He is survived by his partner Pamela Johnson, his son Charles, who now runs the family businesses, and daughters Cara and Camilla.