Why the name Clydebridge?

Looking back at the very early days, I wondered how the name Clydebridge was arrived at for the steelworks. It started life as The Clydebridge Steel Company Ltd and it is located beside the River Clyde, however I thought that the only the river crossing in the vicinity back in 1887 was at Bogleshole Ford, so why Clyde-bridge, if there was no bridge?

The first reference to Bogleshole Ford I came across is from an article about James Annand, Plate Mill Roller, in the 1958 Colvilles Magazine, where he says, "Everybody at Clydebridge knows that signpost at the road end that says "Bogleshole Ford Now Closed". The council keeps it well painted, and it had a new coat not so long ago. Well, that signpost was there all the days I've been at Clydebridge, and I believe the ford has been "now closed" since 1908. The story goes that a van driver and his horse were swept away in a flood in 1905, and that was why they closed it down."

I then found that the history of the area goes back much further, and Hamilton Farm is mentioned in the charter that created the Lordship of Hamilton in 1445 as being a superior farm. Shortly after this the farm was owned by a branch of the Bogles, proprietors of Bogleshole, Daldowie, and Shettleston. This identified the origin of Bogleshole ford but still not Clyde-bridge.

While looking through old drawings and plans of the works I came across some old maps of the surrounding area. This started a search for other old maps and I then came across a map for 1895.


This map shows the original works layout, but does not show a bridge (unfortunately the extract I have does not show the river so you will have to take my word for this).

I then found an early Bartholomew map. This shows what looks like a railway running from Clyde Works Colliery (between Clyde Iron and Carmyle) to a bridge that crosses the river but then ends at the future site of the steelworks - a bridge to nowhere? This was a real puzzle, why build a railway, and a bridge, to nowhere?

After further work, learning about the mapping of Lanarkshire, I discovered that the first modern detailed map surveys had been carried out in 1862, and maps at a scale of 25 inches to the mile were published in 1864. After finally tracking down a copy, this solved the puzzle, as it shows that the railway from Clyde Works Colliery to the bridge did actually continue westwards. It joined up to a Coal Pit at Hamilton Farm (near where the front entrance and Time Office for the steelworks was built) then on to join a further three pits to the main railway line, about where the present karting track is on the hill up to Cambuslang.

Another incentive for adopting the name Clydebridge would be by the timely association with the steelwork of the Forth Bridge. This colossal structure, a wonder of the world and one of the first large structures to be made from steel rather than iron, was in construction between 1882 and 1890. The stone supports had been built by 1885 and the steel columns for the 3 cantilevers were in place by 1887. A name somewhat akin to this steel wonder would be most appropriate for the new steelworks.

So, unless someone knows a better story, it looks like Clydebridge derived its name from the colliery railway line and bridge that crossed the site where the steelworks was built.

It may be that the Neilson family that started The Clydebridge Steel Company Ltd had partners in some of the many colliery interests in the area, and perhaps the railway that crossed the site was also named the Clydebridge railway. I like the potential "irony" of this as the other famous Clydebridge you can find from a search on the internet is a Class 37 Locomotive which is named after the steelworks, which might in turn have been named after a railway.

 

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