Forthbank Foundry

Forthshore Foundry

Forthbank Foundry Co.

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

Sites & Monuments Record

Bo’ness Harbour, Bo’ness              NT 006 816


1868: In October the foundry, in working order, with steam engine, cupola, cranes, stove and whole plant capable of casting 5-6 tons a day was advertised for sale.

1869: Established by Joseph Crosthwaite (a native of Carronshore who trained in his uncle’s Union Foundry), John Johnston (merchant in Bo’ness) and Robert James Jamieson (solicitor in Bo’ness).  A further feu purchased at Thirlestane, east of the timber basin, from Henry Cadell of Grange in May 1871, including the privilege of depositing refuse from the foundry on the foreshore outwith the property.  More land was subsequently feued from the Duke of Hamilton and leased from the Board of Trade.

1875: Peter Stevenson, the clerk/bookkeeper left.  Extra feu obtained from the Duke of Hamilton.

1877: New cupola and engine set up and buildings erected.  George Gilchrist of Eadie, Gilchrist & McLeod, engineers, lost a finger when a cog crushed his hand.  The dumped material was used to reclaim part of the coast with the intention of extending the works yet further.  However, this gave rise to legal disputes over the ownership of the reclaimed land.  Opposition to the extension by Henry Cadell drove away any new potential partners and as a result the company developed financial problems.  The local populace were also irate at the closure of the footpath along the foreshore and in March demolished parts of the fence in that area.  It was immediately re-erected by the foundry and the Duke of Hamilton.

1883: J Crosthwaite and James Arkley (baker in Bo’ness) now sole co-directors.  As a result of outstanding debts to Cadell for coal supplied to the works, a new limited company had to be formed to raise the capital to repay him.   The opportunity was also taken to sort out the problems with the feu from the Duke of Hamilton.  The new company was set up in the names of the following shareholders:  James McDougall (ironmonger in Glasgow), Henry Crosthwaite (foundry foreman), John Hart (blacksmith), John Morrison (engine fitter in Kinneil), John Crosthwaite (blacksmith), James Wilson (solicitor, Falkirk) and John McLean (Grahamston).  The capital of the company was set at £15,000 in £10 shares.  Henry Crosthwaite had started in the Camelon Foundry before becoming manager of the Union Foundry.  Before long the main shareholders were Henry Cadell, Joseph Crosthwaite, James Arkley, and James MacDougal.  The whole plant was put up for sale and bought back.

1889: Foundry property and plant advertised for sale. 

The gross area of the Property is about Three and a Quarter acres, held as under:- (1) from Mr Cadell of Grange, nearly three-quarters of an acre; (2) from the Duke of Hamilton, one and three quarter acres; and (3) from the Crown, about three quarters of an acre Imperial.  There are five dwelling houses on the ground, yielding a gross rental of about £23.  A portion of the ground is let for saw mill and timber yards at a rental of £22.10s, and the neighbouring ground, extending to about one acre, is valuable building land, the remainder being occupied by extensive and commodious foundry buildings.” 

Joseph Crosthwaite became works manager at Gowanbank.

1893: After a decade of inactivity the dilapidated buildings, covering an acre of ground, were extensively renovated for Messrs Reid & Rankine. 

On entering the works we have on the right hand a commodious counting-house.  On the left is the dressing-shop and warehouse, where the castings are filed and dressed, and made ready for the market, and where there is ample accommodation for many tons of goods.  Adjoining this is the shop where the heavy work is moulded, and it is here that the thoroughness with which the renovation of the old buildings has been entered into most conspicuously displayed, consisting as it does of two old workshops converted into one, with heightened walls and a new roof, and with strong brick pillars about two foot square at either side to support a travelling crane capable of lifting five tons.  It is eminently suitable for the heavy work for which the firm intend.  It is 80ft in length, by 40ft broad.  After leaving this we come to the moulding shop for lighter work.  It is 150ft long, by 120ft broad, and is fitted with appliances of the most approved type.  The pattern shop, which is situated at the southern end of the work, also bears signs of considerable improvement… The plant for the rainwater goods has been supplied by Messrs Blackadder & Sons, engineers, Falkirk.  Negotiations are pending with the NB Railway Co for the introduction of a siding into the work.

c1905: Closed.

G.B. Bailey, 2021