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Kirkintilloch Town and Parish


Alexander Smith, formerly a partner of George Smith & Co., Sun Foundry, Glasgow, retired from that firm in 1861, and feued four and a-half acres of land near the Monkland railway, on which he erected a foundry. Light castings such as rain water goods, hot water heating apparatus, gas and water pipes, were the branches followed.

George Park Macindoe, a nephew of William Dunn ot Duntocher was afterwards assumed as a partner.

Mr. Smith died about 1866, and owing to some dispute regarding valuations, etc., the business was stopped.

After the works had been closed for a year, they were acquired at public roup by Messrs. Cameron & Roberton, under which designation they are still carried on. Mr. Roberton, it is understood, voluntarily withdrew in 1890; but although no longer a partner he remained in the foundry till 1892.

The works have been largely increased since 1868, and are thoroughly equipped with railway sidings, and sidings to canal wharf. The firm at present make a specialty of sanitary castings, a department in which they have been pioneers. There are about 300 men and boys employed in the works.


Has been established for a good many years, and is carried on by Messrs. Napier, Dow & Co., who employ about 85 people.


Under the Lion Foundry Co., Limited, carry on a large trade in ornamental castings, and employ 200 men and boys.


So long carried on by the late Mr. Archibald Gilchrist, and which has since had a chequered history, is now being repaired and adapted for the manufacture of felt.


The works were started in 1882 by the New Caledonia Mines Company which in 1884 was amalgamated with La Societfe Anonyme “Le Nickel” of Paris.

The raw material comes all from New Caledonia—an island in the South Pacific ocean, and a French convict settlement—being nickel ore, consisting of a silicate of nickel and magnesia; and cobalt ore, consisting of oxide of cobalt, oxide of nickel, and manganese.

The nickel ore is smelted, and partially refined, and sent away in a concentrated form to the various refineries belonging to the company in England, France, and Germany.

The cobalt ore is also treated in a similar manner, and refined at the general works of the company.

The nickel is ultimately sold in the market^ in the form of small cylinders called “cakes,” each being similar in shape to a good-sized pill-box, but weighing half a pound, and containing ninety-nine per cent, of pure nickel. Many articles of domestic use are made or partly made of it, but the chief market is not a peaceful but a warlike one. The new “Magazine” rifle adopted by the Small Arms Committee of the Government, and which is a combination of the La Belle and the Mannlicher rifles, is charged with a cartridge containing smokeless powder and a beautiful conical bullet of small diameter. This bullet is made ot an outside casing of nickel, filled with lead. Nickel is also used in the coinage of Germany, Belgium, and America.

Cobalt is largely used for enamelling and other purposes, being the beautiful blue with which we are all so familiar. But a still more extensive market is found for it in the numerous and large potteries of Staffordshire, where it plays an interesting and important part in the manufacture.

The clay if used alone makes ware of a dirty yellow colour, but when mixed with cobalt in the proportion of one ounce to the ton, the result is a white colour, exactly in the same way as a laundress uses “blue” in the washing of shirts, which without it would come out yellow, but by its means assumes the pretty white colour we all like.

But cobalt, besides making the Staffordshire ware appear white, is also used in the finishing process. The blue patterns so familiar to us are printed on paper with a preparation of cobalt and put on the ware before it enters the furnace. The heat bums up the paper, but the blue pattern is left imprinted on the ware like paint.

The Nickel Company work day and night, and employ about 250 people.


Are carried on by Messrs. Perry & Hope, who are manufacturers of phosphate of soda, phosphate of ammonia phosphoric acid, etc.


Have been established for many years at Parkbum Works, and manufacture wood products, moulders’ blacking, and red and iron liquors.


Carries on an old-established saw-mill at the canal-basin, and deals extensively in timber.


Manufacture silk cloth, tartans, ginghams or zephyrs, Thibets, etc., in which they have much valuable machinery engaged. When in full operation they employ about 300 people, the majority being girls. The mill was established in 1867.


Has erected a sawmill on Mr. John Dick Marshall’s land at Luggiebridge, where timber is cut up, and sold or utilised.


Coal mining is extensively carried on in the north-east quarter of the parish by Messrs. William Baird & Co., who also raise a vast quantity of ironstone for their furnaces at Gartsherrie. Their collieries have been established in the parish for more than thirty years. More recently, other pits have been sunk to work the same section of minerals at Meiklehill, now being carried on by James Wood (Limited); at Easter Gartshore by Messrs. J. & W. Wallace; and at Woodilee by Mr. John A. M'Callum. These works employ a very large number of men, and are of immense importance and value to the town and parish of Kirkintilloch.

And more important still is the future prospect of their continuance, which we regard as most hopeful. There cannot be a reasonable doubt that the valuable minerals which have long been worked in the eastern part of the Kelvin valley by Messrs. William Baird & Co., and in the western end by the Carron Company and others, will extend all through the middle of the valley and underneath the town of Kirkintilloch. The best seams, however, in the bulk of this unworked area lie at great depths, and will require large capital to win them. But this will be forthcoming sooner or later when the present more easily reached seams are getting exhausted.

It may truly be said that Kirkintilloch was never on a sounder basis of prosperity than she is at present, as the established industries have already filled up all the house accommodation. She is one of the very few towns having canal and railway accommodation so convenient, and the future development of her mineral wealth is an inheritance for her children.

We have only one other industry to notice, viz.:


Startle not, gentle reader, neither rub your eyes, nor say, “I never knew that Kirkintilloch was a seaport town.” If you did not know before, you know it now, and it will be proved to your satisfaction before we have done.

It is true that Kirkintilloch shipbuilders have never figured in the Glasgow Herald with statistics, and we are unable to state the out-turn of vessels for this year, or compare it with previous years. We can only say that a good many new vessels have been built from first to last, and a vast amount of repairs done, but all in a quiet, unassuming Kirkintilloch way, and with no attempt at empty boasting or display.

At the launch of each vessel, however, we can assure our readers that everything was done in the most correct and orthodox manner. There was “the numerous and select company assembled”; the lady who “gracefully performed” the ceremony of christening; and there was the correct adjournment for lunch. Our conservative friends—who have a monopoly of loyalty—will be glad to hear that “the usual loyal and patriotic toasts” were always given —two especially being on no account whatever omitted, viz., “The Queen,” and “The Magistrates of Kirkintilloch;” and if the volume of applause following each had been measured, truth might have awarded the latter toast to have had the greater amount.

Besides a long list of iron lighters, which would only be burdensome to the reader, the following screw steamers have been successfully built and launched:—Helena^ Lizzie Gardnerf Adelaide, Lyra, Delta, Arthur, Dina, Albert^ Scotia, Argo, Neptune, Orion, Analine1 the last being a fine tank vessel built for Messrs. Ross & Co., of Falkirk, to carry oil, these gentlemen being so convinced of the excellence of the work turned out at Kirkintilloch that they sent the order there, passing by all the shipbuilders of the Clyde, Belfast, and elsewhere.

Of the foregoing ships built at Kirkintilloch it might have interested some of our readers had we been able to give the length, breadth of beam, horse-power of engines, etc., etc. It may suffice to say that they are all substantial, sound, and honest ships, each capable of carrying a good bellyful. And let no carping critic from Lenzie or Waterside say with a sneer, “Oh! only canal scows, after all! ” No, good friend, you are wrong there; they are all oceangoing steamers, or were, for some are lying in the bottom of the ocean. But it would be a hard task for you to hunt up the rest. You would find very few on the canal—you would require to go to Belfast, Lame, Coleraine, and other ports in Ireland, and you must also go to Montrose, Aberdeen, and other harbours in the north of Scotland.

All these steamships have been built under the superintendence and direction, and, indeed, after the designs, of Mr. John Thom—manager for Messrs. J. & J. Hay— who is the father of shipbuilding in Kirkintilloch. Long may he live, and may his shadow never grow less!

Considering what has been already accomplished, it is a matter of regret that the Forth and Clyde Canal was made so small, as it cramps and confines the energies of our Kirkintilloch shipbuilders, which might otherwise have expanded to any extent.

But, “there's a good time coming, boys, wait a little longer.” Wait till the Forth and Clyde Skip Canal is made, and then “you shall see what you shall sec.”

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