Frederick Braby & Co. (Limited)
Frederick Braby & Co. (Limited), Eclipse Iron and Galvanizing Works, Petershill Road, and 47 to 51, St. Enoch Square.-—
In reviewing the great representative industries of Glasgow the well-known Eclipse Works of Messrs. Frederick Braby & Co. (Limited), situate in Petershill Road, Barnhill, present themselves as one of the most notable centres of manufacturing activity in the metal trades of the district. The firm of Messrs. Braby was founded, as far back as 1839, under the style of Frederick Braby & Co., engineers, iron building constructors, and general contractors, at Gamgad Road, Glasgow, and removed in 1880 to its present location at Barnhill. The management of its affairs at Glasgow is in the hands of Mr. W. H. Luther, a member of the organisation, and a gentleman of eminent practical attainments in the class of industry specialised by the company. The commercial and industrial ramifications of this notable firm are of the most extensive and elaborate order, for, in addition to the Eclipse Works above mentioned, the same house controls works at Hatton Garden, Liverpool, the Ida Works at Deptford, London, S.E., and the Fitzroy Works in Euston Road, London, N.W.; and besides all this, there is a branch establishment in St. Enoch Square.
The construction of iron buildings and roofings, galvanizing, and the manufacture of a wide range of goods in iron, zinc, tin, and lead are the leading industrial operations carried on at the Eclipse Works, with which the present review must more particularly deal. The firm are nationally famous for their special zinc roofing, a fact that is authenticated by the extensive use made of the same in many eminent quarters, notably by her Majesty’s Dockyards, Woolwich Arsenal, Liverpool Docks, Surrey Commercial Docks, a number of the great London Railway Stations, many of the leading Railway Companies of the United Kingdom, and most of the principal Indian and Colonial Railway Lines.
Iron buildings go from these works at Barnhill to every quarter of the globe, and are used for legionary purposes — alike for habitation, public meeting, warehousing, manufacturing, and Divine worship. In the colonies particularly, where labour is scarce and costly, one of the first necessities of the settler is a place of habitation, and to this requirement the iron building produced at and supplied by such establishments as Messrs. Braby’s lend themselves in the most convenient and effective manner the genius of the engineer can devise. That the advantages of the system of iron buildings thus developed are well recognised is shown by the great progress made in this branch of trade during recent years.
For a business of the kind engaged in by Messrs. Braby no better site could have been chosen than that occupied by the Eclipse Works. The position is in the very heart of the Scottish coal and iron fields, and thus economy is effected in the purchase of the leading requisites of the industry. For purposes of transport and shipment also the works are admirably placed. They possess sidings from the North British, City of Glasgow Union, Caledonian and Glasgow, and South-Western Railways ; and the Clyde, too, close at hand, affords means of direct shipment to almost any and all parts of the world.
The offices in connection with the works present a good elevation, and the works generally have an imposing appearance. The entire premises are of modem construction, and are to a large extent erected on the firm’s own system of iron building. They are fitted throughout with the most improved machinery and plant available for the purposes of the industry.
In the commodious stores are immense piles of the raw materials used in the firm’s operations, such as hoop and sheet iron, zinc, and other substances. In one department are great heaps of sheet iron as received from the mills ; in another are stacks of the same material after galvanization and corrugation. The galvanizing shop is very extensive, covering a ground area of 340 by 160 feet. In this department the various processes in the preliminary manipulation of the sheet are carried out. All of these processes, “pickling”, galvanizing, &c., are exceedingly interesting in themselves, but are incapable of being described here in detail owing to limited space. It is sufficient, doubtless, to record that they are carried into effect in the best and most perfect fashion by this eminent firm, whose name has become inseparably identified with British work of this class. The apparatus used here is, as elsewhere throughout the works, of the newest and most effective type.
In an adjacent workshop to the above similar processes are applied to smaller articles, such as buckets, gutters, chains, &c., &c., the larger galvanizing shop being devoted to the manipulation of large sheets. In close proximity also are the drying stoves, effectively heated by steam. The process known as galvanizing, it may be well to remark, is of comparatively recent introduction, and consists in coating the iron to be so treated with zinc by immersion, the zinc being dissolved in a tank with a flux of muriate of ammonia. The process presents a very inexpensive and effective means of protecting the metal from oxidation, and is applicable to any class of exposed ironwork.
The annealing department is another highly important section of the Eclipse Works. Here the sheets are “annealed” or tempered, in such a way as to reduce their brittleness ; and so effective is the process that after having undergone it the sheets can be worked almost as easily as copper. The annealing furnace of Messrs. Braby’s works is of a new and improved description, and will anneal from 70 to 80 tons of iron plates per week.
The corrugating shop, another notable department, has an ample complement of steam-power rolls and presses for imparting the necessary corrugations to roofing and other building iron in sheets. Adjoining the corrugating shop are the joiners’ and packing-case makers’ department, and across the spacious yard is the drawing loft, where drawings of roofing in process of production are made in full size on the floor, and templates taken therefrom for the guidance of the workmen. Then there are blacksmiths’ shops, machine shops, a separate department for the making of iron buckets and hollow ware, and busy tinsmiths’ shops, all in constant activity and full operation ; and in each of these departments the workmen have numerous labour-saving mechanical appliances to assist them in their work.
The packing shop is not by any means the least busy department at the Eclipse Works ; neither is the extensive and well-ordered warehouse for the hollow ware and other smaller products of this immense industry. The works cover in all an area of fully six acres, and stand among the largest and most perfectly equipped of their kind in Great Britain or elsewhere. Steam is the motive power throughout, and the average operative force in constant employment numbers three hundred and fifty hands.
Referring for a brief space to Messrs. Frederick Braby & Co.’s offices and warehouse in St. Enoch Square, there are shown here a number of the leading specialities of the firm’s manufacture that possess certain points of distinct individuality. One of these, in particular, is a most useful article in the shape of a corrugated iron travelling trunk, which is handsome and elegant in appearance, strong, light, and remarkably durable. On a similar principle Messrs. Braby manufacture a corrugated iron bin, which has both, strength and neat appearance to recommend it.
Another important speciality is the patent “Empress” steel bath, a decided novelty in metallurgical contributions to our sanitary requirements, and an acceptable novelty withal. Various other kinds of baths are shown, among them the “Economical”, the “Acme”, and the “Fitzroy”, the latter being claimed to be the cheapest and best gas bath yet invented. And there are also many styles of smaller baths, all of excellent make and superior finish.
Messrs. Braby have just added safe-making to their comprehensive industrial system, and at their first exhibition (that at Adelaide in 1887) they were successful in carrying off second honours, which speaks wondrously well for their future prospects in this line.
Still another speciality in the long and varied list is an oil vapour light, which for threepence will give a light of 3,000 candle-power for an hour. It is not expensive as to first cost, is portable, can be moved about anywhere, requires no boiler connection, no air compressor, no air receiver, is easy to work, will burn creosote, tar, or other hydrocarbon oils, and has been most appropriately named the portable “Sunlight”. It is protected by patent, and sold to the extent of 150 last year.
Messrs. Braby’s admirable system of glazing without putty, by means of the ‘‘Perfect” sash-bar, is eminently worthy of notice. This “Perfect” sash-bar is the patent of Mr. W. H. Luther, mentioned early in this sketch as a member of the firm, and is decidedly one of the best contrivances of the many that have been introduced to solve the vexed problem of effective roof and other glazing without the use of ordinary sashes or putty. And among a host of other articles for which this house enjoys a standard reputation may be mentioned window blinds, cattle troughs, furnace pans, filter bottoms, hot-water cylinders, verandah friezes, fencing wire, wine bins, bell tubing, sanitary closets, chimney cans, and smoke curers.
The firm obtained for their manufactures Highest Awards at Cape Town, 1877, and Paris, 1878 ; Gold Medals at Liverpool, 1886 ; Edinburgh, 1886 ; ,London, 1884 ; Silver Medal at Calcutta, 1883-84 ; Gold and Silver Medals at Amsterdam, 1883 ; a Bronze Medal at London, 1885, and Gold Medals at Edinburgh and Liverpool in 1886. Messrs. Braby control an enormous volume of trade, world-wide in range and connection ; they are large contractors to H.M. Government, the railway companies of Great Britain, India, and the Colonies, dock and harbour boards, and to various other corporate bodies, and they enjoy the liberal patronage of many of the first architects and principal building contractors of the United Kingdom.
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