Etna Foundry

Watson, Gow and Co

Grange Iron Co

Federated Foundries Ltd

Illus: 1899 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

Sites & Monuments Record

Etna Road, GrahamstonSMR 708NS 894 811


1875:  Founded as part of the company’s expansion policy from Glasgow.  Their Glasgow foundry in Lilybank Road was also known as Etna Foundry.  12 acres of land on the estate of Thornhill were purchased.  Construction work took over a year and a half due to strikes.  The first cast was on 6 April 1877

The works are situated immediately to the east of Kersehill mansion house, and within fifty yards of the banks of the Forth and Clyde Canal, to which they are designed ultimately to extend.  The entire building, as it at present stands, encloses a space of 270ft long by 211ft broad.  The roof consists of nine spans, each 30ft broad and about 22ft high, two higher roofs rising near the upper end, each with a span of about 35ft, for the accommodation of cranes.  The largest portion of the building is occupied by the moulding shop, which extends the whole breadth of the building, being 150ft, besides a space left for further extension, and unused at present, the whole being splendidly lighted and ventilated.  The roof is supported by couples resting on iron columns, and on the top of the latter are moulded rhones, which are belted to the couples, and serve both to convey water and bind the whole building together.  The roof and floor of the moulding shops have a declivity of 1.5 inches in 10ft, the southern wall being about 2ft 3ins higher than the one opposite.  This incline on the roof serves the purpose of providing a sufficient run for water to keep the gutters clear.  On the floor tramways will extend from the cupola throughout the shops, with turntables at suitable places, on which bogies will be run with the melted iron; the incline being from the furnace will thus provide a speedy run for the bogies to the workmen, preventing, as far as possible, the cooling of the metal.  In the north-west corner of the shop is the core stove.  The cupola is a duplicate, the furnaces being ingeniously connected at the top.  It consumes its own smoke, and the ashes, & c. are prevented from blowing out on the roof.  The dimensions of the iron casings are 7ft in diameter within, and 21ft high; above this is 9ft of building and at this elevation the arch connection commences.  The blast is supplied by an Ellia Patent Blower of the largest size, consisting of a revolving cylinder 3ft in diameter, within a casing about a foot larger, and having three steel fans, which fold up in the return, and re-open at the supply orifice.  The blower is driven by a table engine of 14 horse-power nominal, and has proved thoroughly efficient.  The metal is hoisted by a self-acting crane with two 8-in cylinders, lifting 15cwt, to a platform supported by a 2.5ft lattice girder strengthened by one of rolled iron surrounding the cupola.  The motive power for the other operations is received from a 16-in cylinder horizontal engine by means of ropes running in grooved pulleys, instead of the belts commonly used, the smoke being conveyed by a stalk 100ft high.  The east side of the building is occupied on the left of the entrance gates by a stable, with a workman’s house above, on the right the engine and boiler, next to which are the pattern shop and store, and the offices.  The counting house occupies the north-east side facing the canal, and adjoining it are three private rooms, lavatories & c all finely fitted up.  In order behind the pattern shop are situated the grinding and finishing shops, sand mill, smithy, and dressing and examining shops; and next the moulding shop is the warehouse.  Above the office is a dwelling-house of four apartments, fitted with all conveniences.  Town and canal water and gas are introduced into houses and works.  A block of 36 houses has been built for workmen, about 50yds from the works, and fitted with grates, dressers, gas, and water, besides the best sanitary and other conveniences.  Other blocks are laid off, and excavations for still further extensions are being made.  A tramway has been constructed from the canal to the end of Kersehill Farm Road, and a tramway has been constructed and is in course of extension to Dalderse Avenue.  The chief dispatch of goods will for the present be by the canal, where a wharf has been built; but a branch from the Scottish Central Railway is expected soon to be run to the foundry.  The entire work is from the plans and built under the supervision of Mr Andrew Miles, Glasgow.”

The main product was pipes.

1880, January: Strike by pipe moulders.

1896, Aug: Became a limited company with a nominal capital of £65,000 divided into 6,500 shares of £10 each of which at least 5,700 were to be fully paid up.  Shareholders were Robert Gow Watson – 4,488 shares, Alexander Riddell – 670, Robert Robertson, Thomas McQueen Robertson, and James Henry Parker.  The first three became directors of the new company, with Robert Gow Watson as chairman.  The Falkirk works at this time covered 10.69 acres.  A full inventory was taken of the premises with its cart entrance, dressing shop, smith’s shop, pattern shop, warehouse, pipe turning and boring shop.

1900-11: Additions in this period included a storage shed, moulding shop, and a warehouse.

1901: Robert Gow Watson died and Robert Robertson became foundry manager.

1911: The whole of the firm’s manufacturing business transferred to Falkirk.

1922: Alexander Riddell died, and Mathew Riddell became work’s manager.

1924: George Rae appointed commercial manager.

1926: December, Robert Robertson died.

1928:  Mathew Riddell retired, and Donald Robert McKindy Robertson took his father’s place as work’s manager.

1929: Watson and Gow in voluntary liquidation.  In November the works, consisting of 10 acres and a block of workmen’s houses, were put up for sale.  The following year they were bought by Mr McLeod of Grangemouth Iron Co Ltd.

1935: Became a limited company with a share capital of 10,000 £1 shares operating from Camelon.  The first directors were Sir Frederick Larkins MacLeod, George Torquil MacLeod, John MacKinlay MacLeod James Haldane Calder MacLeod, Frederick Conair MacLeod, and James Murray Primrose.  Sir Frederick had 9,500 shares, the remainder 100 each.  Sir Frederick died the following year and Watson, Gow & Co Ltd became part of Federated Foundries.

As the Company was effectively amalgamated with the Grange Iron Co it made neither a loss nor a profit.

1964: Wound up and closed.


  • 1879: 120
  • 1892: 100
  • 1901: 80
  • 1911: 200
  • 1913: 200

G.B.Bailey, 2021