Larbert Iron Works

  • Larbert Iron & Stove Works
  • Colonial Works
Dobbie Forbes & Co Ltd   1872-1959
Callendar Abbots & Dobbie Forbes Ltd1959-1961
Larbert Foundry Ltd1961-1963
Aga Heating Appliances
Glynwed (Larbert)1963 –
Illus: 1947/52 Ordnance Survey Maps (National Library of Scotland).

Sites & Monuments Record

Foundry Loan, LarbertSMR 697NS 859 828


1872: Firm started by three co-directors, Richard Dobbie, Mr Dick his brother-in-law; and James Forbes. Richard Dobbie had started work as a moulder in the Camelon Foundry and moved to George Ure’s foundry in Bonnybridge in 1860.  He left to become assistant warehouse manager at Smith and Wellstood in 1864 and became the warehouse manager in 1867.  In 1869 he was unfairly dismissed due to his intention of establishing a foundry of his own.  He then set up business as a dealer in stoves as Dobbie and Rennie, and then as Robert Dobbie.   His goods were made by Crosthwaite at the Union Foundry, Camelon.  James Forbes had also worked at the Bonnybridge foundry, before becoming a junior partner in a nailmaking business at Portdownie owned by James Jones.  He had met Richard Dobbie in Ure’s moulding shop, and together they manufactured American stoves using Smith and Wellstood’s products as patterns – with the name filed off.  They were consequently taken to court but had no real case to answer as the stoves had come from America anyway.  Building work began in February 1872 and the first cast took place a mere six weeks later.  There was accommodation for only 16 moulders.

1879: Partners now Robert Dobbie, James Couper of Glasgow and William Dick.  Richard Dobbie held the rank of Major in the Stirlingshire Rifle Volunteers.  George Dobbie of Camelon, departmental manager.

1884: In November the old established concern of Allan & McRuer in Glasgow was purchased.  Business was conducted there as the Heela Foundry Co. 

Products included the Larbert range, Livingstone stoves, Stanley, Burton ranges, Markham, Enchantress, Sweet Home, Quartette, Duet fires.  They also made garden rollers and furniture, Farmers portable laundry boilers, etc.

1885: New design of cupola fitted with Stewart’s patent receiver, first tapped by “Auld Dickie”.  Melting 200 tons of metal per month.  James Forbes emigrated to Australia in 1885.

1888: Colonial Foundry on a site adjacent to the Larbert Foundry taken over to complete special orders.

1890s: At the beginning of 1894 the firm purchased a foundry in Alloa and made additions and alterations to it. The main products remained stoves and ranges.  The portable Larbert stoves sold particularly well in the Empire.  In 1895 the warehouse and fitting space were extended.  The old Larbert School was bought and converted into a recreation centre for the employees, complete with billiard tables.  George Dobbie now works manager.

1892: Two new furnaces opened.  Their blast supply was maintained from a blower and engine combined – a Root’s Patent Acme Blower No. N.  Furnaces used on alternative days and able of melting 12 tons of iron and coke per hour, with further capacity built in.  Steam hoist for the charge.  The furnaces were 45ft high with an internal diameter of 3ft 10ins and had six tuyeres to provide the blast.  The average output for the first year was 85 tons per day.  The area of the moulding shops was doubled and expansion begun towards the buildings of the Colonial Works.

1896-9: Moulding shop extended and a new one of four roofs erected, measuring 170 x 120ft.  Also a new three-storey warehouse, 270 x 32ft, facing the railway.  New shed, 400 x 30 ft at the railway loading bank capable of taking 35 wagons.  New boiler with 136ft high chimney and a new blower installed.  Entire works lighted by electricity.  12 more acres of land acquired to the north adjacent to the railway, ready for future expansion.

1900: Dobbie Hall gifted to the parishioners of Larbert.  John Cameron Walker of Stirling and George Dobbie assumed into partnership.

1908: Major Dobbie died.

1928: Two years of decline were followed by government orders.  Two co-partners, George Dobbie and J Cameron Walker.  The survivor of these two was to become sole proprietor – this led to lack of investment.

1932: November, George Dobbie died and Walker took over.

1934: March, J Cameron Walker died, and his son J Reed Walker took control.

1934: April.  Allied Ironfounders took over with Walker as manager, still called Dobbie Forbes & Co Ltd with a capital of 1,000 £1 shares, of which 998 were held by Allied.  John Alexander Brown (1 share), Howard John Kennard, William Hogg Smith and John Reid Walker (1 share) as directors.

1935: Fire in moulding shop.

1954: RL Hunter appointed a director.

1955:  March, JA Brown retired.  JR Walker resigned as secretary and was replaced by JA McOustra.

1959: Amalgamated with Callendar Abbots to become known as Callendar Abbots and Dobbie Forbes Ltd.  The Larbert foundry had closed in 1958.

1960: WH Smith retired in March.

1961: As part of the rationalisation by Allied Ironfounders, the works were completely rebuilt on the 18 acre site at a cost of £500,000.  Workers at Callendar Abbots and at the Forth & Clyde & Sunnyside Works were transferred to the new foundry.  RL Hunter, the managing director of the Northern Group of Allied, had argued for the reinvestment.  The works included an enamelling shop for cast iron and sheet steel components.  The main products were to be mass produced space heaters, fireplaces, cookers and building materials.  Trade names included Rayburn, Marvec and Lowburn.  JR Walker, the managing director of Callendar Abbots, and AD Brown of the Forth & Clyde & Sunnyside became directors of a new company called “Larbert Foundry Ltd”.

1963:  Larbert Foundry Ltd voluntarily wound up and the site operated as Glynwed.

2001: Closed.


  • 1874: 40
  • 1879: 150
  • 1885: 150
  • 1892: 500 (of which 200 moulders) + 100 at Glasgow
  • 1907: 600-700

1913: 600

G.B. Bailey, 2021