Falkirk Men Abroad

Skilled men were highly sought after to establish or improve ironfounding abroad.  Despite legislation banning the export of industrial knowledge and expertise some even went to Russia, taking with them advances in the production of ordnance.  At the vanguard of that move was the manager of Carron Co, Charles Gascoigne who defected in 1786 taking with him several workmen.  Gascoigne made a fortune.  The Baird and Baildon families also thrived in Eastern Europe at this time and as that tale is told elsewhere it will not be elaborated on here (Bailey 2002).

Robert William, a Carron moulder, James Osprey, a furnaceman, and several other Falkirk men were engaged to go to Persia under a Mr Dawson (also a Carron man) to start an iron work for the Shah.

Closer to home, William Russell founded Fletcher Russell in Manchester and William Mathieson set up Wilsons & Mathiesons in Leeds.  Similarly Archibald Aitken, who had begun work as a boy in the counting house of the Falkirk Iron Co, left Falkirk in 1915 with Frank Muirhead and D Campbell to establish a new foundry in Burton-on-Trent.

In 1905 a company called The Hollow Block Syndicate was founded at Wentworth, near Durban in South Africa by Sir Benjamin Greenacre.  Originally it manufactured hollow concrete building blocks, and a foundry was installed to produce the machines for the manufacture of the blocks.  Before long the production of pots and plough fittings was undertaken and, with them, manufacture of South Africa’s first coal stove.  However, some dealers still showed a predilection for a pot made by The Falkirk Iron Company — then competitors — so in 1919 an agreement was reached between the two companies and the name “Falkirk” appeared on all the products; this agreement also brought about a final change in the name of the company — to The Durban Falkirk Iron Company (Pty.) Ltd., as it is still known today. In 1923 a closer and final association was made, and through it the firm became connected with the powerful Allied Ironfounders Limited of Great Britain and some men were transferred.

G.B. Bailey, 2021