Falkirk Iron Works

Falkirk Foundry Co.                            

Falkirk Iron Co.                                   

Ashwell & Kennard                            

RW Kennard & Co.                             

Kennard & Sons                                 

Falkirk Iron Co.                                   

Glynwed, Falkirk

Falcon Catering Appliances







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

Sites & Monuments Record

Falkirk Iron WorksSMR 700
Grahams Road, FalkirkNS 889 810
Foundry Loan     NS 858 828


1810: Date of foundation by “some gentlemen of the area” as a joint stock Company, called the Falkirk Foundry Co, employing many men from the Carron Iron Works.    The leading original proprietor was John Hardy.   A wharf was constructed onto the Forth and Clyde Canal.  The traditional date of foundation is often put as 1819 with the first order being for columns for Potter’s timber yard in Grahamston.

1823: Coat of arms designed for the Company.

1830:  Major RW Kennard became a co-partner, and the company changed its name to Ashwell and Kennard.

1845: Kennard bought most of the company’s shares.

1849:  The works remained in the hands of Hardy and was managed according to the contract of co-partnery by a body of directors and a manager until 1848 when one of the partners, RW Kennard purchased the works.  There were now so many employees that Robert Gamble was employed as a teacher.

      Office at 32-34 Bothwell Street, Glasgow.

1854-6: The two furnaces were melting 120 tons of iron each week.  For a description of the process used see the introduction.  This enabled large ornamental castings to be made.  Perhaps the most impressive of these were the gates for the palace of the chief of the Peruvian Government in Lima.  They were designed by J Hill of the foundry and were 10ft 3ins wide from pillar to pillar, and 12ft high.  These were highly ornamented with the arms of the republic, foliage, fruit, etc., and were supplied with a large amount of railings.  High Works and Castlelaurie given over to the production of equipment for the Crimean War.  In 1854 this included a single order for 1,200 Canada Stoves from the British Government, produced in just a fortnight, and 3,000 stoves for the French Government, produced at a rate of 400 a day.   4 to 18 pounder cannon for merchant vessels began production and were tested near Dorrator.  Shells were made for the Army.  During the Crimean War some 16,000 tons of shot and shell were made for the Government.   Howard J Kennard and his brother AC Kennard supervised the war work from their residence at Kersehill.  Such was the scale of the work that night shifts were introduced.  In 1856 Castlelaurie was temporarily closed at the end of the War due to the loss of home markets.  The Falkirk Works turned to the production of bronzed iron work.  Some of this was purely decorative and figurines were produced.  These included groups of deer, incidents of the chase, dogs, horses (single and in groups), cattle, birds, historic and classical subjects.  Francis H Sutton came up from the London works to act as the designer and modeller.  The firm also won the order for iron work for the Crumlin Viaduct near Hereford.  A brass band was formed.  Howard J Kennard moved to London permanently.

1857: George Binnie became Manager on 1st January.  A fountain made by the company was placed at the centre of the Sighthill Cemetery in Glasgow.  It was “composed of three vases or basins, the one above the other, and the whole forming an equilateral triangle, the largest 6 feet four inches in width, being placed lowest.”

1865: A 60 ton iron vessel called “Advance” was launched at Kelvin Docks of Messrs J & R Swan for the Falkirk Iron Co.  It was christened by Miss Binnie of Grahamston.

1868: 300 tons of castings produced per week.  The buildings covered 8 acres and had been largely rebuilt and extended.  Products ranged from ornamental inkstands to large bridges.

1884: New cupola tapped.

By 1891 Falkirk and Castlelaurie Foundries together covered some 15 acres.

1896: George Binnie retired 31st March.  He had joined the company in May 1835 at the age of 11 years and spent 39 years as the manager (he died in January 1904).  Morrison Callander took over.  Alsop became general manager.  In August Howard J Kennard died.  Enamel shop fitted with electric lights by Laurie & Co.

1899: Sheet iron department introduced.

1900-1911:  Additions in this period included a workshop and sand shed, a pat­tern store, warehouse, and a dispatching shed.

1904:  H Sanderson succeeded Morrison Callander as local manager.

Illus: Bainsford Bridge in 1905 with Falkirk Iron Works in the background.

1912:  Falkirk Iron Co Ltd incorporated under the Companies (Consolidation) Act with a capital of £100,000 in £1 shares.  The number of the Members of the Company (excluding those employed by it) was limited to 50, with no invitation to the public to subscribe.  The first directors were Robert William Kennard (chairman), Major Arthur Molloy Kennard (managing director), Major Lionel Edward Kennard, Thomas William Alsop (general manager) and Robert Kidston (works manager).

1915: Archibald Aitken retired as Managing Director.

1919: New sheet iron dept built.   Ashwood House, Crieff, bought as a convalescent home for the workers.

1920: Company wound up voluntarily with a view to its reconstruction and the registration of a new Company named “The Falkirk Iron Company, Limited” with a nominal capital of £250,000 divided into £1 shares.  The directors were Robert William Kennard & Howard Charles Kennard of Bradford-upon Avon & Brightons – 92,616 shares, Captain Howard John Kennard of Kersehill and his mother Evelyn of Thornhill House – 55,572 shares, Captain Malcolm Alfred Kennard of North Devon & his mother – 18,524 + 18,521shares, Thomas William Alsop of London, Robert Kidston (general manager) – 9,189 shares, John Hastings (secretary), John Watt Yuille (branch manager).  The share capital was set at £250,000 at £1 a share.  Other members of the Kennard family took up shares.  RW Kennard was also a director of the Blaenavon Iron Co.

The works employed c1300 people together with Castlelaurie.  Falkirk Iron Works covered 21.5 acres, and Castlelaurie 18.5 acres.  There were also warehouses at 32/34 Bothwell Street and 100 Wellington Place in Glasgow, and at 22/24 South Castle Street in Liverpool.

The share offer was over subscribed and the nominal share capital of the company put at £500,000.

1922:  Purchased Henry E Hoole of Sheffield from Charles Duckenfield and Thomas Turner Rackstraw.

1924: April 2nd, canteen and recreation hall opened inside the entrance gate.  Recreation grounds near Thornhill.  That same month a large number of patterns were lost in a fire that caused £3,000 worth of damage.  Another fire, much smaller, occurred in November in the fitting shop and was quickly dealt with by the firm’s own fire brigade.

1927:  Hastings died, followed the next year by Alsop and RW Kennard.  Richard Smythe Guinness, Edwin Greenacre and George Rae Scotland, directors.  Two new Poumay cupolas supplied by British Drying and Heating Co Ltd inaugurated in December.  Capable of melting 13 tons of metal per hour.  Charged by a 2.5 ton electrically driven gib crane travelling on a gantry about 250ft long.  The pig iron and coke were filled into buckets with drop bottoms.

1929: Became part of the Allied Ironfounders Ltd.

HE Hoole &  Co  was  incorporated  in  the  works  and  operated  as  a department.

Land at Castlelaurie owned by the Falkirk Iron Co whilst McDowell Steven & Co Ltd. had the plant.

1930: Captain HJ Kennard Managing Director.

Howard John Kennard – chairman; George Rae Scotland – manager; William Hogg Smith – managing director.

1946: Robert Leslie Hunter becomes a director, followed the year after by Robert Gillies Sinclair.

1950s: RG Sinclair Managing Director.

1955: Contract for the three kitchens at London Airport.  In 1961 the foundry received a sizeable contract from the National Iranian Oil Co in Teheran for kitchen equipment at their headquarters.  Catering had now become a speciality and included the Ganymede dri-heat central tray service system used in hospitals.

1962:  In 1961 Nigel Radcliffe, the sales director of the Catering Equipment Division of Allied Ironfounders Ltd, was appointed a director of Falkirk Iron Co.  The following year, the two remaining directors, RL Hunter and William Welsh resigned and five new directors were co-opted by Allied – Alexander Brown (of Forth & Clyde & Sunnyside), John Carson, Ian McIntosh, John McOustra, Duncan Rigg.  The following year the company went into voluntary liquidation, owing almost £400,000 to the parent company.  By this date the site occupied 11.5 acres, of which 9 were covered.

1981: Closed, workforce transferred to Glynwed in Larbert.  In subsequent years the “Castings” Housing Estate built on the site.


  • 1868: 900 men & boys
  • 1879: 900
  • 1891: 1200
  • 1901: 1130
  • 1911: 1260
  • 1913: 1150
  • 1920: c1300 (with Castlelaurie)
  • 1924: 1200
  • 1960:  800.

G.B.Bailey, 2021