Denny Iron Works

Cruikshanks & Co. Ltd.

Illus: 1897 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

Sites & Monuments Record

80 Glasgow Road, Denny SMR 696NS 813 822


1863: Established by Robert Cruikshanks of Carron and Archibald Cruikshanks as partners.

1867: Shortage of capital almost caused failure, but Thomas Shanks provided more and became a partner.

1882: Lathes fitted for turning and finishing ship work.  Malleable and cast iron goods produced also included sewing machines, agricultural implements and general castings.  By this date the works were already larger than the earlier Denny foundry at Carronbank, and the firm sponsored its fourth town festival.

1899: Five new shops built, each 156 x 25.5ft in size, to house fitting, erecting, moulding and warehousing activities.  The company had bought fireplace and range patterns from Mushets Ltd of Dalkeith who had gone into liquidation.  This allowed it to diversify from the maritime items that had formed the bulk of the business.  By 1899 Robert Cruikshanks and his son Robert were minority shareholders, with Thomas Shanks and his son David more or less running the business.   In 1900 Robert snr, then the travelling partner, became paralysed.  A dispute arose with the Shanks family and it was decided to end the partnership.  Rather than wind up the business Thomas and David Shanks bought out Robert Cruikshanks and the Trustees of his now deceased father.

1901:  Became a limited company with capital set at £20,000 made up of 60 6% cumulative preference shares and 1,400 ordinary shares, each valued at £10.  The shares being distributed amongst the existing shareholders as follows:

Thomas  Shanks 225 + 120, David Shanks 240, James Shanks 50, Jessie M L  Shanks 10 + 115, Elizabeth McQueen + 25, Jessie B Fyfe + 25, Margaret Luke + 25.  Mary Shanks + 50, Mary K Shanks 10 + 40.  New shares were purchased as follows:

Thomas  Shanks (chairman) 50, David Shanks (managing director & secretary)  50, James K Shanks (director) 50, Mary Shanks 1, Jessie M L Shanks 1, Mary K Shanks 1,  James Luke 1, and customers bought most of the remainder.

A new moulding shop and steel building was immediately erected and a 6 ton electric crane installed the following year.  Thereafter there was almost continuous expan­sion, with most of the architectural design undertaken by James Strang (then Strang & Wilson, later Wilson & Wilson).

1906: New roof over the enamelling store, a new store, and a 2 bay exten­sion to the light moulding shop.  The company opposed the Denny Burgh exten­sion, as it would have meant increased rates for them.

1910: The malleable shop extended and alterations made to the heavy jobbing shop.   By this time the firm was on the Admiralty list of suppliers of cast malleable steel.  One of their main customers was Messrs Davidson, who in this year set up their own foundry and cancelled their contract with Cruikshanks & Co Ltd.

1911: A patent converter process adopted and the firm continued to specialise in steel.

1913: Lease of yet more land to the south and an additional crane for the heavy moulding shop.  In 1912 Thomas Shanks died after 36 years with the company.  Labour trouble was rife, and the workforce was locked out for a period.   John McLaren was appointed secretary.  A small fire in 1913 caused a temporary set back.

1914: New offices built on the opposite side of Glasgow Road on a new feu, John Gardiner mason, mosaic work by Art Pavement Co, and the lettering on the roof by Walter MacFarlane & Co!  The First World War caused material shortages and by August 1914 the working week was restricted to four days.   Work on war supplies and the absence of 30 employees with the army soon remedied this.  These were counteracted by a strike over moulders’ war bonuses.  The closure of Grangemouth Docks meant that pig iron brought by rail from Middlesbrough was expensive.

1915: Works visited by Mr Watt and Mr Pratt MP from the Munitions Parliamen­tary Committee who addressed the workforce to encourage output.  A new core drying plant and store were installed.  On 1st November the Iron Works became a Controlled Establishment under the Minister of Munitions.  A new Viking stove was patented.

1916: On 6 July six men seriously burnt and attended to by nurses from the Cottage Hospital.  Wage demands continued to increase.

1917: In February “In view of Director of Material under Ministry of  Munitions of  War  urging the dilution of labour by employing females it was  decided  to introduce  female labour into foundry”, and lavatories were provided.  A disa­bled soldier was also taken on as the timekeeper.  To help the latter a new gateway and time keeping office were built in 1918.  A shed for two motor wagons and a fire engine were also provided.  The company invested in war stock.  Over all, the firm did well out of the war, and had to pay some of its excess profits back to the government.

Illus: The former street frontage of Denny Ironworks

1919: The capital increased by the issue of 1642 new shares at £10 each.   In July David Shanks died.  Ten houses were bought at Burnside and Anderson Street as housing for moulders which were in short supply after the war.   A further four flats in Broad Street were acquired.  Electric now fully replaced gas as the fuel for lighting.  John McLaren appointed a director.  Heavy iron dress shop extended and one acre 368 square yards of land acquired from Callendar Estate to the north.  A coup established west of the office block.

1920: Cruikshanks joined the Malleable Ironfounders Association.

1921: The miners’ strike brought about short-time working due to shortage of coal.

1924: An Albion 30cwt lorry purchased.  Like many foundries the depression reduced profits and stock investments were sold to tide the company over.   The best selling line in these troubled times was the patent Ideal water bowl for cattle, first produced in 1923.  Tubular stalls also sold well.

1925: Thomas Shanks, son of James K Shanks, appointed assistant works manager.  The steam engine was scrapped and all the plant run off electricity.

1926: Thomas Shanks made a director.  Exhaust ventilation in the dressing shops was improved in 1929 to conform with the Factory and Workshops Act.  Cars were purchased for use by the company’s representatives.  Trade was still stagnant and the company invested heavily in municipal bonds.

1932: By this year the continued depression in the shipbuilding industry caused a change in direction.  It was decided to augment production by entering the plough metal market, and if successful to produce a range of agricultural equipment.  A new metal ‘Flintrite’ was produced for this end and Mr R Storrie of Kelso employed as agricultural machine consultant.  The following year the new products were exhibited at the Highland Show in Dundee.  A warehouse was constructed to house the extra materials required.  Also in 1933 William M Shanks became a director.

Illus: Aerial photograph of Denny Ironworks looking west.

1935: James K Shanks received an OBE, and Leslie Park was purchased for £450 to provide accommodation for the works manager.

1936: Patents taken out for cultivators and cutters.

1937: A brief increase in orders.  The firm was added to Lloyds register as makers of steel castings.  In 1938 a new patent stove was produced, but war was looming and money was spent on ARP.  Iron was converted into steel in two Bessemer converters.

1939: War and the first fatal accident in the company’s history oc­curred in the rumbling room.  During the Second World War the business was working to full capacity producing tank castings, agricultural machinery, etc.  The steel plant was considerably expanded.

1943: In October the value of the working plant and services put at £11,761, and the buildings at £9,862.

1945:  Thomas Shanks returns from being a POW to become manager.  His daughter had joined the Board during the war.

1950s: Separate sections within the works for cast iron, high duty cast iron, malleable cast iron and carbon & alloy cast steels.  Products included castings for the shipbuilding and engineering trades such as heavy castings for pumps and engines, bodies for electric motors, castings for coal-cutting machines and conveyors, table pillars and chair stands for shipbuilding.  Manganese steel castings for bulldozers and excavators.

About 1950 a Welfare Committee was established and an old wing of the foundry converted into a club, including a common room, offices, ambulance room, canteen and bath-house.

In 1955 it was noted that the foundry covered 40,000 sq ft, of which 30,000 was under cover.  The 60 female employees were employed at the core bench and driving the 11 overhead cranes.

With the death of James K Shanks, Thomas made chairman.   William M Shanks secretary until 1971.

1971: May K Horsley (nee Shanks) appointed chairman.

1974: Cupolas replaced by electrical melting furnaces.

After the death of John Marshall, Anderson Sinclair became managing director.  A 90 ft high fettling shop introduced.

1982: Producing 20 tonnes per week of cast iron, Ni-Hard, stainless and plain-carbon steel castings.  Bert Young, works director.

1985: Closed.  Demolished in 1987 and a fire station and a supermarket built on the site.


  • 1913: 200
  • 1934: 300
  • 1948: c600
  • 1955: 320 male & 60 female.
  • 1979: 264
  • 1982: 137
  • 1984: 101-150


In the 1940s the company diversified into the production of agricultural equipment making a market garden plough for an English firm of tractor makers.  Plough shares, drinking bowls, etc.  Coal cutting machinery and machinery for electric power stations.

1984: “All grades grey iron, austenitic and SG iron.  Max. wt. 6000kg.  Carbon, low alloy and heat resisting steels (max. wt. 4000kg).  Jobbing and repetition work.  General engineering castings.  Moulding process – CO2, Furane, greensand.

Denny line of implements included ploughs, harrows, land rollers, laid grain lifters, safety hitches, spade lug attachments, drinking bowls and tubular stalls.

Flintrite plough fittings.

Steelrite plough fittings.

Stained Glass

See separate entry for information about stained glass.

G.B.Bailey, 2021