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British Industrial History

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Clyde Iron Works

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Clyde Iron Works of Cambuslang.

1786 Thomas Edington and William Cadell, Junior, in association with Carron Iron Works, built Clyde Iron Works, on the north bank of the river Clyde, a few miles south east of Glasgow, primarily to relieve the pressure on Carron for armaments.

Clyde Iron Works began with two blast furnaces and a foundry, employing about 100 men. It was built on 600 acres of the Carmyle estate near Glasgow, on the land of Bogleshole, an ancient burying place.

This ironworks was dependent upon local supplies of coal and ironstone, under the control of James Dunlop (1741–1816) of Garnkirk who contracted to supply 20,000 tons of coal annually but his bankruptcy (1793) led Cadell and Edington to open new coal seams with Dunlop's agreement (1795).

These works were reputed to be the best in their day. During the Napoleonic Wars the famous short-barrelled naval guns known as 'carronades' were made there.

In common with much of the Central Scotland area, there were deposits of coal and iron ore around Cambuslang. A Dr Meek estimated that about 100 coal pits had been wrought out earlier than 1790, and in 1787 a steam engine was erected to keep the village pit clear of water. The annual output of coal in the area then was about 30,000 tons.

It was to Clyde Iron that David Mushet came, at the age of 19 in 1791, as a clerk in the Accounts Branch.

For a time the Manager of Clyde Iron was James Outram, whose son George came to be founder, editor and proprietor of the Glasgow Herald.

1810 Colin Dunlop, who at the time was working the coals in the district of Carmyle, purchased Clyde Iron from the Caddells.

In the days before gas was used for lighting (the streets of Glasgow were not lit until 1820) the blaze from the Clyde Iron Works furnaces, when in full operation, illuminated the district for miles around

From the memoranda of Colin Dunlop and Co, the actual make of pig-iron in 1811 at Clyde Iron was 2,447 tons, with 10 tons 18 cwts of coal used per ton of pig-iron produced, and the cost per ton of pig-iron was £8.

1825 'At Calder iron-works there are four blast furnaces; in Wilsontown, two; in Carron, five; Clyde, two; Shotts, one; Clelland, two; Muirkirk, three; Devon, two. These furnaces make, on an average, thirty-five tons of iron week each, when working.'[1]

By 1828 they made 5,884 tons of pig-iron with a coal consumption per ton of pig iron of 8 tons 2 cwt 2 qrs and a cost of pig-iron of £4 12s 1d per ton.

1828 James Beaumont Neilson, having invented the hot blast process, sold some of his interest in the patent to a syndicate of Charles McIntosh of Crossbasket, Colin Dunlop of Tollcross, and John Wilson of Dundyvan. The value of the invention was demonstrated by a series of experiments at Clyde Iron Works; this transformed the cost of iron production and led to the meteoric rise of the Scottish Iron industry.

1832, when the hot blast was in full operation, heating the air to 600 to 700 degrees Farenheight, the production had risen to 11,924 tons, the coal consumption reduced to 2 tons 12 cwts and the cost per ton od pig-iron £2 12s 8d.

From 1834 onwards, the cost of heating the air itself gradually decreased, until in 1844 the fuel used for that purpose per ton of pig-iron cost only 9½d.

See Lanarkshire Iron Works

1939 With hot metal working from Clyde Iron, Clydebridge Works became one of the largest integrated steelworks in the UK.

1978 Works closed.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Morning Advertiser - Saturday 22 October 1825