The Glenboig Union Fireclay Company, Limited

The Glenboig Union Fireclay Company, Limited, Glenboig near Coatbridge, and 4, West Regent Street.—

    This well-known and representative concern (which is by far the largest of the kind in Europe and whose extensive operations illustrate a very important and typical branch of Scottish industry, has been known in Glasgow commercial and industrial circles under its present style as the Glenboig Union Fireclay Company, Limited, since 1882. The undertakings of the company and the industry it controls are of much earlier origin, however, dating their history back as far as 1836. In 1860 the concern was reconstructed and came under the management of Mr. James Dunnachie. The firm at that time was Thomson, MacLean & Co. In the year 1865 the Glenboig Fireclay Company was formed, Mr. Dunnachie being the managing partner. In 1872 this firm was dissolved, and in the following year Mr. Dunnachie established the Star Glenboig Works, when, after competing for ten years with the old works, the two concerns amalgamated and were turned into a limited company under the present designation, the Glenboig Union Fireclay Company, Limited, with a capital of £150,000.

    The company now control two extensive working establishments at Glenboig, the Old Works and the Star Works respectively, and have another large place at Cumbernauld, each of these works being the headquarters of some branches or department of the company’s operations, which embraces the mining for fireclay and the subsequent production of bricks, tiles, and all descriptions of superior fireclay goods.

    Glenboig has long been known favourably for its possession of a most valuable seam of fireclay. The analysis of this clay by Edward Riley, F.C.S., in 1875, manifested its possession of the most valuable properties of fireclay in a high degree, and showed it to be “very free from any bases, such as oxide of iron, lime, &c., that have a tendency to make the clay soften with heat”. Many other favourable reports and analyses on the same fireclay have been forthcoming, and they tend to indicate that the Glenboig Union Company is now possessed of, and actively working, one of the most valuable beds of fireclay in the United Kingdom. The works are of great extent and admirable equipment, and upwards of six hundred men are constantly in employment.

    The Glasgow offices constitute the commercial headquarters of the concern. At the head of Glebe Street, St. Rollox, there is also a large depot at which stocks of great magnitude are held.

    The company’s specialities comprise the various bricks, blocks, &c., required for Siemens’ patent regenerative gas furnace, forge, and rolling mill furnaces, copper-calcining and refining furnaces, glass and chemical furnaces, puddling and blast furnaces, &c., and in addition to the above there are produced special bricks for Ford & Moncur’s stove, Cowper’s stove, Whitwell’s stove, Bauer’s coke oven, Klonnes’ gas furnaces, Siemens’ producer, and the Wilson and the Sutherland producers. The company are likewise sole makers for Scotland of basic bricks for the Thomas-Gilchrist dephosphorising process, and they also manufacture the special bricks for the Siemens’ process, Gorman tubes, Bessemer tuyeres. Silica bricks, blue bricks for acid chambers, gas retorts, and all descriptions of settings ; enamelled bricks, glazed sewage pipes, enamelled and salt-glazed cattle troughs and sanitary appliances, and the Glenboig ironstone paving tiles for railway stations, all hold prominent places in the list of special features developed by this great and progressive industry.

    A very large and important trade is controlled, extending to all parts of the world, and the home connection is of the most influential order throughout the three kingdoms. The Glenboig works are in many respects unique, and have the advantage of improved methods of manufacture, several of them patented. The most important of these is Mr. Dunnachie’s patent regenerative gas kiln, which saves from fifty to seventy-five per cent, in the cost of burning, abolishes smoke, and improves the quality of the manufacture.

    The company have carried off many distinguished medallic honours, and of these well-earned successes the following are a representative selection : Paris, 1878, three silver medals ; Santiago, Chile, 1875, a prize medal ; London, 1884, first-class award ; London, 1885, a gold medal ; Calcutta, 1884, highest award for firebricks ; Amsterdam, 1883, gold medal ; Glasgow, 1880, two medals of the Philosophical Society ; Melbourne, 1880, three medals ; Inventions Exhibition, 1885, a silver medal ; Glasgow Mining Exhibition, 1885, silver medal ; Antwerp, 1885, a gold and a bronze medal ; and a medal at the Smoke Abatement Exhition, held in London in 1882 ; at the Edinburgh and Liverpool Exhibitions of 1886, silver medals were awarded.

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