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 Iron & Steelworks in Coatbridge

by Andrew Miller - Rise and Progress of Coatbridge
written in 1864

Let us now proceed to notice in detail, the erection of the respective manufactories in the district.

See Gartsherrie Iron

The Dundyvan Malleable Works commenced operations in 1839, and have been carried on successfully ever since. At these works there are 44 puddling and 15 heating furnaces, 4 driving engines, two patent (Condie) hammers, and a helve hammer. The machinery is capable of producing 1400 tons of finished iron monthly, of nearly every variety, plates, rails, bars, &c., &c. For the last twelve years the average amount of finished iron forwarded to the market annually has been 12,000 tons, to manufacture which 34,000 tons of coal were annually required. There are a number of other malleable works in the district, but as their existence dates from a later period than the two already mentioned, they will follow in order accordingly, and be noticed at the proper period. 
see Dundyvan Iron works

The Caledonian Tube Works established in 1844, by the late William Baker the first work of this description in Scotland, for the manufacture of the patent lap welded iron tubes for steam boilers. The patent expired ill 1857. The tubes 80 produced are exported to nearly every quarter of the globe. The number of men employed average from 30 to 80 according to the demand; and the works are now carried on by Joseph Baker, Esq., Woodside House.

The Atlas Foundry established in 1845, by the present proprietors, Messrs James M'Gilchrist & Co. In addition to the production of Cast Iron Work, a large business is carried on in the engineering department. The Britannia Tube Works, erected in 1851, by John Lumsden & Co., where iron tubes for blast furnace twyeers, shovels, spades and brass castings are produced. .This work employs, on an average, about 30 men and boys.

The Maryston Iron Works, established in 1851, are now carried on by Messrs Hugh Martin & Sons. At these works there are six puddling and two heating furnaces with engines and other machinery, capable of producing about 800 tons of finished malleable iron monthly.

The chemical works were erected on the Summerlee estate, and were carried on by the proprietor, the late Mr Neil M'Brayne, and were a source of employment to many workmen for a number of years. Portions of the old buildings still stand, and a large range of workmen's houses, together with a malleable work, are now built upon the site of these works, and are locally known as Maryston Square and the Maryston Iron Works. These chemical works, together with the weaving trade, formed the chief source of employment to the scattered population; for the Parish of Old Monkland at that period, viz., the middle of the eighteenth century, could only boast of some 2000 inhabitants, which, in the year 1790, was nearly double that number. In the course of that year

Coats Iron Works, erected in 1854, by the late Thomas Jackson, Esq., of Coats, at which there are twelve puddling and two heating furnaces, with the necessary machinery, capable of producing nearly 600 tons of finished malleable iron monthly.

In addition to these works a neat and substantial structure was erected close adjoining, in 1861, for the manufacture of lap welded iron tubes, with all the requisite machinery. The tube work was leased to Messrs Andrew Stewart & Co., of Glasgow in the latter part of last year, who is carrying OD the work very successfully in all its branches. The total cost of the whole works as at present in operation, is said to have been upwards of 10,000. The Malleable Works are now carried on by Captain Jackson, of Coats.

Drumpellier Iron Works, erected in 1859, by Messrs Henderson and Dimmack. At these works there are twelve puddling and three heating furnaces, with the necessary machinery, capable of producing about 600 tons of finished iron monthly.

The Phoenix Iron Works, erected in 1861 and now carried on by Mr James Spencer, have six puddling and two heating furnaces, with engines and machinery capable of producing 250 tons of finished iron monthly.

The Clifton Iron Works, also erected in 1861, by Messrs Colville & Gray, at which operations in the manufacture of iron were commenced in February, 1862. At these works there are ten puddling, and three heating furnaces, with all the appliances of machinery, capable of producing about 600 tons of finished malleable iron per month. The total cost of these works was upwards of 7000.

Coatbridge Works (lately Munroe's Foundry), now the property of Messrs Begg & Wilson, who carry on an extensive manufacture of iron tubes, pipes, shovels, spades, &c., and also the business of brass-moulders, the whole giving employment to upwards of 30 men and boys.

North British Iron Works. These works were originally known as Ronald's Forge. The latter, when first erected in 1840, and for many years afterwards, belonged to Mr Ronald, who carried on the manufacture of axles, wheel tyres, &c., and other forgings. After it was converted into a malleable iron work, it was known as the "Phoenix," but the present lessees, Messrs Ellice and Mackenzie, changed the name to the North British. It is a very compact little work, with two puddling and two heating furnaces, along with machinery capable of turning out 150 tons of finished iron per month.

All the foregoing are situated in the immediate vicinity of the town, and have been the means of augmenting the population, and adding to the general prosperity.

A manufactory for steel springs, &c., in 1860, was erected near the Drumpellier Iron Works, but after a few months' trial it was given up. The whole of these works, viz.:- Atlas Foundry, North British, Caledonia, Britannia, Clifton, Phoenix and Coats, are built on the Coats' estate, on the north side, and along the bank of the Monkland Canal. A branch off the Monkland Railway runs along the side of the Canal, thus giving every facility by land and water, for the transit of materials to, or merchandise from the respective works.

Coatbridge Tin Plate Works. These works, which are situated on one of the most eligible sites in the district, on the estate of Whifflat, at the Laigh Coats, were started at the latter end of the present year. They are the only works of the same description in Scotland, and the proprietors (Messrs Baillie and Bell) deserve credit for their enterprising spirit in thus adding another branch to our iron manufacture, which, it is calculated, will give employment to about seventy individuals. The works are built on the most approved principles - the machinery and fittings are of the best description, with all modern improvements. There are two puddling furnaces, two lumping furnaces, a hollow fire, a softening fire, with arrange of tinning pots, a couple of engines to propel the rolls, a Condie hammer, and every other appliance necessary for manufacturing the iron through all the various stages from puddling, hammering, rolling, re-heating, cutting, softening, pickling, and lastly, tinning, when it is finally packed in boxes, in quantities of 3/4 to 1 cwt. in weight, ready for the market. The estimated produce of such a work is about 500 boxes per week. In the tinning process, females are employed, so that this is a new phase in iron manufacture in the district. The works are advantageously placed for carriage of the raw material or produce both by railway or canal, and with its energetic proprietors, there can scarcely be a doubt as to its future prosperity.

Tinplate Works -photo from John White Collection

Tennant's Foundry is situated at the bottom of Buchanan Street. The enterprising lessee, Mr Robert Tennant, has recently expended upwards of 1000 in extending and re-building the same, in order to enable him to meet the demand for heavier castings in machinery and other goods of a like description. This foundry was formerly known as Smellie's engineering establishment. There are also several extensive woodyards in the town, which have saw mills attached. The respective proprietors are Mr William Waddel, Messrs Allan & James Waddell, Mr John Hill, and Mr John Murray, who give employment to a considerable number of men, in building houses, railway waggons, bridges, piers, &c. Their enterprising spirit leads them to accept of contracts in these branches in nearly every part of the country, and their career in this respect has hitherto been very successful. At Sunnyside Messrs Tudhope and Gray have erected a bolt and rivet manufactory; these works, when fully started, will be able to produce about ten tons of the manufactured article daily. see RB Tennants

The Maryston Works and Drumpellier Works are built on the Drumpellier estate, the former a short distance to the west of the Caledonian Railway Station, near the canal, which is convenient for transit; the latter near to the Langloan Iron Works, with every facility for transit both by railway and canal, as the latter lies close to the west side, and the former runs into the works.

The Rochsolloch Iron Works are situated near the village of Coatdyke, and were erected in 1858, and consist of six puddling and two heating furnaces, capable of producing nearly 200 tons of finished malleable iron monthly.

All the works possess the same advantages of transit for their produce, by the Monkland Canal or Railway, and additional advantages will be derived by the construction of the new line of railway (Glasgow, Baillieston, and Coat-bridge branch) by the Caledonian Company, which is expected to be finished in the course of another year. This railway will form another outlet for the increasing traffic of the district, at the same time it will be of great importance in developing the valuable seams of coal in the west division, and providing supplies of that excellent mineral to the works in this neighbourhood.

This branch line of railway is to give accommodation to that portion of the western district extending along the north valley of the river Clyde, and both sides of the Calder water, joining the Caledonian at Coatbridge on the north, and Whifflat on the south, and these two branches forming a junction near the Souterhouse Colliery to the west, and running west, by Drumpellier, Dykehead, Bredisholm, Baillieston, Mount Vernon, Foxley, Tollcross, Clyde, &c., and on to the Dalmarnock branch of the Clydesdale Junction Railway, by which direct communication will be formed with Glasgow, Paisley, and Greenock. The coal fields through which this line passes are very extensive, and several large portions of them are still unwrought, the opening up of which, together with the further development of those working collieries, will add materially to the prosperity of the district. And there is little doubt that as soon as this outlet for minerals and merchandise is finished, it will at once take its place as one of the best feeders on the Caledonian Railway.

The coal required in the manufacture of iron, at the various malleable works, may be set down at upwards of 90,000 tons annually, and by calculating upon those at present in operation to turn out only three-fourths of the iron they are capable of producing, the produce of finished malleable iron would average upwards of 33,000 tons annually. The coal required in the various processes to which the iron is subjected, from its crude state until finally sent to the market as bars, rails, boiler-plates, &c., &c., is generally estimated at from 2 10/20 tons, to 2 15/20 tons, to each ton of finished iron. The above will, therefore, be found to be very near the mark, and by extending the calculations a little further, the 33,000 tons of iron so produced, taking the market price at a fair average over all, the sum represented by this branch of industry may be set down at upwards of 300,000 per annum.


Among the productions of the district in the early part of this century, was the manufacture of steel, which was carried on at Calderbank by the Monkland Iron and Steel Company, for many years, but abandoned in 1839. At that time the manufacture of malleable iron was extended by this Company, and carried on with vigour; and year after year additions were made to enable them to manufacture iron in all its branches, until the works became the most extensive in Scotland.

The largest portion of these adjoin the pig-iron works of the company, and the remainder are situated at Moffat and Gartness, a short distance from each other. The works, altogether, consist of 62 puddling and 19 heating furnaces, with 6 driving engines, patent hammers, helves, and other appliances necessary for such an extensive manufactory, which was capable of turning out on an average 3000 tons of finished iron per month. In July, 1861, those gigantic works stopped, the company having suspended payments. The stoppage had a ruinous effect upon the general trade in the immediate vicinity, and also on the town of Airdrie, which, being situated some two miles from the works, was greatly benefited by the circulation of money thus brought into it. A portion of the puddling department was started a few months ago, viz., in October (1868). And it is said that other parts of the work will follow gradually. It is not anticipated that the business will be carried on so extensively as formerly. It has been said that above a quarter of a million sterling are invested in these works.





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