Dorrator Iron Co
Dorrator Iron Co (1986) Ltd
Sites & Monuments Record
|134 Stirling Road, Camelon||SMR 698||NS 867 808|
1897: Founded by John Baird (99 shares), a patternmaker in Sunnyside; William Morrison (100 shares), foreman and range fitter from Falkirk; and some local businessmen, including James Miller (100 shares) a Falkirk merchant; Alexander Russel (100) ditto; Eliza A Miller (100) of Falkirk; Elizabeth M Baird (1) of Sunnyside; and Margaret Russell Munn (100) of Glasgow. Each share had a nominal value of £10 and came into existence in June 1898. Late in that year the 5 acre site at Dorrator was purchased from Wm Forbes of Callendar and railway sidings negotiated. Work on erecting the buildings was delayed due to stormy weather. John Baird was appointed foundry manager and Wm Morrison the foreman.
1899: Wm Morrison’s shares were transferred to John Baird, and 200 new shares issued with another 100 the following year as follows: Alexander Russell (35 + 25); James A Miller (36 + 50); Mrs Munn (35 + 25); Wm Morrison (10); Eliza Miller (35); John Baird (49). The depressed state of trade meant that more capital was called in over subsequent years.
The first cast took place on 7 April 1899. The plan of the foundry had been prepared by John Baird
“The moulding shops [three-roofs, each 120ft by 25ft] run up one side of the railway, and the fitting shops, grinding mills, with the various offices, etc, occupy the other side. The cupola is conveniently placed for future extensions. It is equipped with a steam hoist for raising the metal and coke. The blower – a No. 5 Root’s blower – is driven with an 80 horse-power engine, and both worked very smoothly on their first trial. A stream of molten metal flowed from the cupola 20 minutes after the blast was put on, and a fairly large cast of plant was made, together with a few memento plaques.”
The cupola was erected by Mr Graham, cupola and boilermaker of Grangemouth, and was 30ft high and 6ft in internal diameter. The foundations of a second cupola were laid down at the same time as those for the first, to allow for future expansion. In the first years the firm concentrated on the production of grates, ranges and mantel registers.
1902: The capital was increased from £10,000 to £15,000, and in 1910 to £20,000.
1903: Trade slowly picked up and the moulding shop and warehouse were extended.
1909: The Newcastle portable range was introduced, and the following year an attempt was made to sell direct to builders. This failed due to the extended period of credit required in that trade. In 1910 there was a shake up in the management. After criticism of his performance, Baird resigned, and sold 128 £10 shares to Peter McLachlan of Stenhousemuir who became an active director. John Crosthwaite, an active director of several other local foundries, took up part of the new share issue. Wm Morrison acted as works manager and J Buckler McTurk was appointed commercial manager. It was he who attended meetings of the Scottish Iron Founders combine that was eventually to re-establish profitable price fixing. Ranges continued to be the mainstay to the company’s sales. A major contract was with the Nautilus Fire Co. A smoke-consuming fire range was adapted to supply another contract to Messrs Fray’s ‘Ritz’ ranges, and subsequently patented. At the same time action was taken against the Liverpool firm of the Northern Heating Co for infringement of the registered name Mistletoe. Other trade marks included Acanthus, Adonis, Blue Bell and Vesper.
1912: The local combine replaced by the National Light Castings Ironfounders’ Federation of which Dorrator was a member. The blowers for the cupola proved inadequate and second-hand belt-driven ones were purchased from the Salton Foundry.
1913: March, Wm Morrison died and McTurk made manager. Morrison’s son Andrew became foundry foreman. A patternmaker’s strike temporarily closed the works. The electric lighting increased and dust extractors installed due to pressure from the government. The Nautilus Fire Co taken over by the Davis Gas Stove Co who continued trading with Dorrator. Adrian range patented.
1914: The First World War brought in orders from the War Office for ranges, with £3,126 worth in 1914. At Christmas the company sent parcels to their former employees serving with the forces. In 1915 the firm made plant for the manufacture of French pattern hand-grenades. The French government in Paris then placed orders for these grenades with most of the foundries in the district, though financial guarantees seem to have been lacking. Dorrator supplied R & A Main with 25,250 of these as part of an emergency order for that pattern from the British Government. Towards the end of the year John Baird died. The next year the Company received an order from the Ministry of Munitions for shell lifters. They also processed part of an order for making lifter plugs that had been given to a Glasgow firm. At the Ministry’s insistence, and against their own judgement, they employed 4 women. A new core-drying oven speeded up work.
1917: Alex Russell died.
1920: Wm Garfield Macdonald, their London agent, took up shares and became a director. There was a move away from ranges to general castings. A combination stove was introduced, and patterns for anthracite stoves purchased from the closing firm of George Wright Ltd of Rotherham but work also began on a patent gas cooker for Messrs Brooks of Glasgow. Even the casting of petrol engines was entered into for Franham and Whyte of Liverpool, though the cylinders caused problems and this part of the work was subcontracted. By 1921 heavier castings had become a prominent part of the work and consideration was given to purchasing a travelling crane. However, trade subsequently became very depressed and this was never bought; though a motor lorry for local deliveries was.
1922: Paragon stove made. Rainwater goods now started to be made at Dorrator.
1935: McTurk retired as managing director (and died in May 1939).
1954: New offices built to replace an old tin and timber shed.
1984: “Grey iron castings produced up to Grade 260 (17) from 0.1kg to 1 tonne wt. Loose greensand, boxless furane & self-setting silicate processes. Specialists in machine tool castings together with castings for textile, earth moving machinery industries, local authorities & civil engineering. One-offs and short runs are a speciality. Employment range 51-100.”
1986: Management buy-out from English owners. Now called Dorrator Iron Company (1986) Ltd.
1990: Owned by Wadkin Engineering Ltd.
1994, July: Closed with the loss of 40 jobs. Structures demolished shortly thereafter and a small housing estate built in 2000.
- 1901: 77
- 1911: 85
- 1913: 100
- 1978: 90
- 1980: 46
- 1987: 60