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British Industrial History

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Thomas Edington

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Thomas Edington (1742–1811), ironmaster and merchant

1742 Born

1764 Joined the Carron Co as a travelling salesman.

1759 Carron purchased Cramond Iron Works

1764 Edington gained experience from Bedlington slit mill.

1765 Edington became manager of Cramond Iron Works.

1766 Further experience from Ambrose Crowley's Winlaton works (1766).

In October 1770 William Cadell, Senior and William Cadell, Junior exchanged their Carron Co shareholding for the Cramond Iron Works.

1772 Edington married Christian, daughter of William Cadell, Senior; they had nine children. During this time Edington also became ‘joint proprietor’ of Cramond.

Edington improved and extended Cramond Iron Works, adding a furnace for producing steel (possibly the first in Scotland). Initially, the main products were hoops for wine and spirit casks, handle iron to be fitted to cast-iron products at local foundries, pan plates for the salt-works of the Forth, and, most importantly, rod iron for nails.

In the 1780s a wider product range included spades and shovels, plough socs, files, and a great variety of nails.

1786 Cramond ironworks depended upon imported Swedish and Russian bar iron, which rose in price, thereby encouraging the younger William Cadell and Edington to seek cheaper supplies by investing in blast furnaces and associated bar-iron plants. The first venture was the Clyde Iron Works, which became Edington's responsibility with the shares split between 18 for Edington and the resident partner, John Mackenzie of Strathgarve (Ross-shire), with 6.

1787 Edington transferred six shares to William Archibald Cadell (1775–1855), but these were controlled by his father, William. This syndicate was also involved at Omoa ironworks through John Mackenzie.

1788 John Mackenzie's death (2 December 1788) caused Edington to move from Cramond to Glasgow.

Clyde Iron Works was built under Edington's supervision on 600 acres of the Carmyle estate near Glasgow. 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 Edington with 20,000 tons of coal annually, but his bankruptcy (1793) led Cadell and Edington to open new coal seams with Dunlop's agreement (1795).

1787 Three malleable-iron companies (Smithfield, Dalnottar, and Cramond) formed a partnership to exploit Ayrshire minerals at Muirkirk ironworks. Muirkirk became a major source of bar iron for Cramond, but like Clyde it was heavily engaged in armaments production during the French wars.

Gradually, Edington withdrew his investments in Clyde, Muirkirk, and Cramond and turned to engineering and foundry work.

c. 1797 Thomas Edington opened the very successful Phoenix foundry in partnership with two of his sons, James and Thomas.

1811 Edington died in Glasgow in May 1811.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Biography of Thomas Cadell by John Butt, ODNB [1]