Carron Iron Works

Roebucks, Garbett & Cadells

Carron Co.

Illus: Ordnance Survey Map surveyed in 1859, published 1891 (National Library of Scotland).

Sites & Monuments Record

Stenhouse Road, Carron   SMR 659NS 881 825


1759: Founded by Samuel Garbett (a Birmingham industrialist), Dr John Roebuck (industrial chemist) and William Cadell (from a successful East Coast merchant family).   Site on the north bank of the Carron chosen and land leased from Sir Michael Bruce of Stenhousemuir.  The site was near water for transport and power, with local supplies of coal and iron ore available.   On 1 January 1760 iron making began.  In 1761 the first feu had been a token 14 acres and this was extended in 1762 by 82 acres, and then by 53 acres.

1761:  Started experimenting with 6 pounder guns, but with mixed success over the following years.

1773: A financial crisis occurred in 1772 and so a Royal Charter was sought and granted the following year.   It allowed the company to borrow up to £25,000 and, if at any time the liabilities of the company exceeded its assets by more than £50,000 they could apply to the Court of Session to have the Company re­strained from declaring a dividend.  The charter required a seal for which John McGowan was consulted, and the nest of flames with three cannons was adopted with the motto ‘Esto Perpetua’.  This common seal was used with few alterations until closure.

1774:  A boring mill was installed by John Smeaton for the production of Ordnance.  It was successfully tested at Woolwich the following year.

1782: The Iron Company took over the Carron Shipping Co.

1876:  New range of offices built along the road frontage according to a design by Baldie, a Glasgow architect.   The central portion contained a clock tower with cannon gargoyles and a steeply pitched pyramidal roof.  Above the arch of the entrance pend was the coat of arms carved in a stone plaque.  To the south of the entrance an iron plate, reputed to have come from a boiler made for James Watt and inscribed “CARRON 1766”, is inserted.  Similarly, an iron bar can be found on the north side, this is from one of the early furnaces and bears the inscription “1760”.

1900-1911: Additions included a dining hall and keeper’s house, brass  foundry, an  extension  of the forging shop, wood-shed, brick pattern  shop,  warehouse, pattern  shop, an addition to the pattern shop, a new pattern shop  and store, moulding shop, pattern shed, corrugated iron warehouse, a new galvanising shop, dressing and pressing shop, and a warehouse and fitting shops.

Illus: Carron Works with West Carron in the foreground.

1930s: George Pate, Manager.

1940s: B W Payne, Manager.

1948, November: A C Bernard, Manager.

1965: Wilson Bennets, Managing Director.

1982: August, closure.

1983: Carron Steelyne, Carron Stainless and Carron Plastics formed by management buy-outs from the former company.

1987: Shires Ltd. buys Carron Steelyne, which became known as Shires, with the headquarters based in Yorkshire.

1990: Carron Stainless Steel Products was one of the largest manufacturers of non-metal sinks, using silquartz material under licence from the German firm Schocke, instead of stainless steel.   It had been renamed Carron Phoenix.  In January 1990 the Swiss-owned Franke Group took it over for £10.3 million.   

1998:  Shires closed down their operations at Carron, concentrating production in England.  84 jobs lost.

October –   Carron Phoenix invested £7 million in new plant and buildings for the production of stainless steel sinks, opened by Princess Anne.  The plant included giant presses made in Germany (100 miles south of Frankfurt, shipped to Immingham on the Humber, and escorted along the motorway network by police).


1879: 3000

1880: 2500

1913: 2000

1965: 2000


1990: Carron Steelyne 250 in manufacturing & 50 in marketing.

G.B.Bailey, 2021