Kinneil Iron Works

  • John Wilson & Co.               1843-1857
  • William Wilson & Co.          1857-1863
  • George Wilson & Co.           1863-1870
  • Kinneil Iron Co.                    1870-1873
  • Kinneil Iron & Coal Co.      1882-1894
Illus: Extracts from the 1856 Ordnance Survey Maps (National Library of Scotland).

Sites & Monuments Record

Bo’ness Road, KinneilSMR 704NS 986 812


1843: Four furnaces built at Kinneil by John Wilson of Dundyvan to exploit the local coal and iron reserves – the first to do so since the Carron Co.  Donaldson, manager.  Furnace Row built to the east to house the workforce.

1851: Railway built to the works from the mainline at Manuel.  John Wilson died and left the works to his second son William.

1852: John Nimmo, manager, leaves.  Demand for pig iron rose dramatically at the end of the year.

A report of 1860 notes that the 4 furnaces were producing an average of 555 tons of iron each per month (SRO GD58/8/52).

1862: William died and a new company formed by his youngest son, George.   The company was called George Wilson & Co.  George was the principal partner, with John Begg, who had been William’s manager, as a partner at a later date.  They carried out smelting from high quality black-band ironstone, making pig iron to be sold mainly in Lanarkshire.

1866: Foundry waste to be used in land reclamation of the foreshore.

1870:  Business failed and another company was formed with Jonathan Hyslop as manager.

1873:  Trade fell and works failed?  The assets were taken over by the Kinneil Iron and Coal Co who sold ironstone and coal to other foundries, but no longer worked it themselves.

1877: Blast furnaces converted to the bell and cone type.

1878: Coke ovens built at the Snab.  John Begg, managing partner, died in October.

1879:  Registered as a limited company in October, with a capital of £60,000 divided into 6,000 shares of £10 each.  Shareholders included William Hay baker in Glasgow – 4,024 shares, John Harvie – 100, Robert King, merchant in Glasgow – 100, James King ditto – 100, Charles King ditto – 100, William Mair,  warehouse­man  in Glasgow – 100, John Darling, coalmaster, James McCreath, mining  engineer in  Glasgow  – 30, James Smith, iron merchant in Glasgow – 300,  David  Sandeman, merchant in Lenzie – 100.  Shares frequently changed hands thereafter.

1880: Two furnaces altered and heightened to make them more efficient.  They returned to blast in October and a supper was held in Kinneil House to celebrate.  Hyslop still manager.  Brickmaking, coal grinding, disintegrating and washing machines added.

1881:  78 coke ovens in operation, of which 26 were built in 1880/81.  51 workers’ houses built.

1886: Due to low price of pig iron the blast furnaces were closed down and sales switched to calcined ironstone.  The last blast appears to have been around 1884.

1889:  Company started to wind up.

1923: Last remains of foundry cleared away.

G.B.Bailey, 2021