MEN OF IRON! - BONNYBRIDGE IRON FOUNDRIES      Back to History Menu

INTRODUCTION

(Painting by Paul Grime, James Mooney and David Wilkinson - 1981)

The next big industry to come to Bonnybridge was IRON FOUNDING.

IRON FOUNDRIES made many useful and often very beautiful objects from iron through a process called  MOULDING and CASTING.

SO WHAT DO IRON FOUNDRIES DO?

Basically they buy slabs of iron (called 'pig iron') which have been make from rocks containing iron ('iron ore') dug out the ground. The iron ore is put into a large coal-fired furnace along with some other materials. This furnace is so hot that the rocks melt and the iron inside the rocks can be separated out from the waste rock (called 'slag') and left to cool into slabs. Watch this animation here to see how it works.

Iron foundries buy the slabs (PIG IRON) and re-melt the 'pigs' in their own furnaces until it the iron is molten and runny. This 'molten iron' is runny enough to be poured into moulds (like making models from plaster of Paris). When the iron cools it hardens and the moulds can be broken open and the new shape appears.

Molten metal being poured into a mould.

 

 

WHY DID THE IRONWORKS GROW UP IN BONNYBRIDGE?

A good question! There was plenty of clay around, so it was easy to see why the brickworks started; but there was almost no iron and very little coal in Bonnybridge - and you need both of these for an iron works.

The big advantages for Bonnybridge were that it had the canal and the railway lines to bring in coal and pig iron and it had a large number of people looking for work.

THE CANAL and the RAILWAY made it very easy and cheap to bring in iron and coal, and also very cheap to send out finished goods.

This hand-coloured photograph shows a 'puffer' steamship passing through Bonnybridge canal bridge. Coal and iron could be unloaded right beside the factory on the left of the photo and finished goods loaded up and taken away very easily.

WORKERS had come into the area looking for work in the brickworks, but there was not too much work available so they were looking for something else. Iron foundry work is dirty and dangerous, but people were desperate for work to feed themselves and their families.

 

 

 

There were a number of different foundries in Bonnybridge

including:-

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Messrs. David Gillies & Sons

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Rollo Industries

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Messrs. E. Dyer (Engineering) Ltd.

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Smith, Wellstood and Ure & Co.

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Campbell Ferguson & Co., later became

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George Mitchell & Sons Ltd.

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Woodlea Foundry

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Broomside Foundry Co. (1922) Ltd

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Messrs. Lane & Girvan

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Chattan Stove Works (Bonnyside Road)

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Messrs. E. & R. Moffat

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 Dempster, Moore &Co. (Machinery) Ltd., Glasgow

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Banknock Foundry

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 Broomridge Foundry

but one of the most successful was

SMITH AND WELLSTOOD.

Click on the name to find out more about this famous firm.

 

 

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