Summerford Foundry

Summerford Iron Co.

Illus: Summerford Foundry is at the top right of this extract from the 1917 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

Sites & Monument Record

Windsor Road, FalkirkSMR 1080NS 868 797


1903: Founded  in February by Bailie James  Fairlie  (of  the Camelon  Chemical Works) and several other businessmen of various  trades  not otherwise involved in ironfounding.  The original shareholders were Henry C Fairlie (220  shares),  James  Fairlie (100), John C Fairlie  (100),  William  Hamilton (100),  John  Hamilton (100), Robert Hamilton (100),  Alexander  Towers  (150), Robert  S  Turnbull  (150), John Horne (50), and William S  Horne  (150).   The shares were set at £10 each giving an initial capitalisation for setting up of £12,000 and a nominal capital of £30,000.  William S Horne was appointed managing director.

Water was taken from the adjacent canal.

1905: More capital required and 425 new shares issued.

1911:  Horne replaced by John A Richards of Bristol.  Warehouses in London and Edinburgh closed.  Orders hard to come by and so prices reduced.  This reduced profits and it was 1914 before the building debt was paid off.

1914:  Remunerative order received from the War Office for ranges.  Orders for grenades sub-contracted to the Clan Foundry.

1915/16: A year of turmoil.  Richards resigned under a cloud and Simon Heaps appointed commercial manager and secretary with John Forrester as works manag­er.   The latter died before he was able to take office and Alexander Jolly, a foreman patternmaker, took his place.  On 1 May 1916 the works were placed under government control.

1918: Works very profitable.

1919: As part of the National light Castings Association the firm subscribed to a new foundry in India.

1921: Heaps died.  Andrew Rennie, an employee appointed secretary, and later elevated to manager.  He had previously been with the Forth & Clyde & Sunnyside Foundry and with Carron Company.  Full of confidence an 80% bonus was issued on dividends.  This was to prove fatal, and for the rest of its life the firm made no profits.

1923: Rennie dismissed due to false accounting.  James R Munro appointed.

A railway derailment within the works meant that the company had to pay half of the costs with the railway company the other half.

Late 1920s depression.

1931:  British Ironfounders Association took over the National Light Castings Association and because they were not considered to be as tough on price fixing the Summerford Co withdrew from the membership.

1932: By this year things were so bad that the directors of Summerford consid­ered closing.  However, the introduction of a Price Maintenance Scheme to the industry made them believe it could be sold as a going concern.

1936: The Company’s shares in the Bengal Iron Co Ltd were sold to the Indian Iron & Steel Co Ltd.  Not enough capital to introduce electricity.

An offer of £6 per share was made by BIA who intended to scrap the works and apply the quota elsewhere.

1937:  Bailie James Fairlie and Robert Hamilton resigned as directors  and  the remaining  directors  (John C Fairlie and Thomas  Turnbull)  appointed  William Rennie  as  chairman and Capt Howard J Kennard as a director.  These were BIA nominees, brought in to close the works in an orderly manner.

At the last moment, after long negotiations with BIA, the firm was purchased by the Grahamston Iron Co for the same price, £6 per share.  A new company was formed called the Summerford Iron Company Ltd and plans were laid to install new equipment.  W W Mitchell and W T Mitchell became directors, with the shares divided  as  follows: W W Mitchell (100), W T Mitchell (100),  James  Mitchell 100), Miss Ethel Downie (1), Miss Jane B Mitchell (1), W T Mitchell jnr (1),  H C  Stewart  (1),  Grahamston Iron Co Ltd (1534).  James Mitchell became the secretary and the workforce was reduced and restructured.   George Robertson made assistant manager under W Mitchell.  Electric power and mains water intro­duced.   New cupola hoist installed and another rebuilt.  Production of rain­water and soil goods and general castings commenced.

1939: The outbreak of war postponed plans for refitting the works.  The Minis­try of Supply took over the site in July 1941 for use as a store and production was moved to Grahamston Works.

1946: It was Feb before the Ministry’s materials were finally removed from the site.   By this time all the plant had been transferred to Grahamston and the buildings were in poor condition.  With skilled labour short it was decided not to reopen the works.  The site was sold to James K Millar Ltd of Parkhouse Works for use as a concrete works.  On 12 September 1946 the Summerford Iron Co Ltd went into Members’ Voluntary Liquidation.

Site now occupied by Summerford Home for the elderly.


  • 1911: 172
  • 1913: 200
  • 1930s: 60

G.B. Bailey, 2021