The Ironmasters

Although the Carron Iron Works was established using expertise and capital from England, it is not surprising that over the years it produced much home grown talent which seeded further foundries in the Falkirk area.  These men of enterprise were leaders in the community, fulfilling civic roles and promoting religious and recreational societies.

Malcolm Cockburn (1828-1907)

1828Malcolm born at Carron, son of a foreman mason.
Stocktaking Dept at Falkirk Iron Co.
Assistant Works Manager at Falkirk.
Manager of the Union Foundry.
1860Founding partner of Burnbank Foundry.
1864Founded Gowan Bank Foundry.
1875Founding partner of Springfield Foundry.
Vulcan Foundry?  Foundry in Larkhall.
Warehouses in Edinburgh, Glasgow & London.
Helped found Stein’s Brickworks, and a timber business in Grangemouth.
Chair­man of Jackson Elphick & Co of Larkhall, who developed porcelain enamelling on cast iron.

His brother, known as Mighty Andrew, became a partner in the Forth & Clyde Iron Works when it took over from the Rosebank Foundry.

In his “spare” time Malcom Cockburn was the chairman of Falkirk Gasworks, and Falkirk Savings Bank, and Falkirk School Board.  He was also vice-president of Falkirk Infirmary.  He founded the Falkirk branch of the Y.M.C.A., Falkirk Unionist Association.  He was preses of the West Church, an elder of the Grahams Road Church, Provost of Falkirk, a Justice of the Peace, and honorary Sheriff Substitute for Stirlingshire.

Robert Wilson Crosthwaite (1812-1870)

1812Born at Jaw Farm, Slamannan.  Orphaned very young.
As a boy was given into service & acted as a message boy for Mr McFarlane of Thornhill.
Apprentice mechanic at Carron Iron Works.  Jobs in Glasgow, Liverpool, before being appointed as manager
of an engineering and foundry works in France for 2 years.
Then in Russia for 4 years.
1845Founding partner of Camelon Foundry.  Left in 1853.
1854Co-founder of the Union Foundry.
1860Founding partner of Burnbank Foundry.
1861Member of Falkirk Parochial Board.
1869Robert’s nephew, Joseph, founded Forthbank Foundry in Bo’ness.
1870Died August 1870 aged 57 years & buried at Camelon.
1914Robert’s son John R Crosthwaite followed in his footsteps and died in May 1914.

William Mitchell (1822-1888)

1822Born in Airth
1840sStarted working as a millwright but entered employment
as a patternmaker at the old Union Foundry.
1850sWent to Australia, where he made money at the gold diggings.
1860With Malcolm Cockburn he built and started Burnbank Foundry.
1875Left to start Parkhouse Foundry with others who subsequently retired leaving him as sole owner.
1888Died in October 1888 aged 66 years.

William Thomson Mitchell (1835-1894)

1835Born in Carron
Apprentice patternmaker at Carron Co.  Took classes in Glasgow.
Foreman patternmaker with Walter McFarlane & Co.
1868Founded Grahamston Foundry.

Town Councillor (1875-1881) and Bailie of the Burgh of Falkirk; J.P.

George Ure (1820-1910)

1820Born at Stenhousemuir in March.
1832At 12 year old an apprentice grate fitter at Carron. 
Then a fireman in a Glasgow foundry.
1845Manager at Camelon Foundry.
1854Managing partner at Union Foundry.
1860Retired from Union Foundry.  On leaving he was presented with a silver-mounted writing desk. 
Founding partner in Smith & Wellstood’s Foundry.
1862Founded Bonnybridge Foundry.
1891Died 3 January 1910 aged 89.

During his foundry life he improved and patented a method of smelting iron in the cupola that was widely adopted.  After retirement he became a county councillor, a member of the Falkirk Parish School Board and deputy lieutenant of Stirlingshire.

William Graham (1850-1894)

1850Born in Australia to parents from the Falkirk district.
1860sEmployed at Camelon Iron Works, Burnbank Foundry
1870sTraveller for Messrs Cameron & Robertson, ironfounders, Kirkintilloch.
1875Founding partner with William Mitchell of Parkhouse Iron Co.
1878Managing partner of Callendar Iron Co.

John E Gibson (1834-1898)

1834Born in Glasgow, son of a silk manufacturer
1855Came to Falkirk as assistant and traveller for Camelon Foundry.
1859Promoted to manager of Camelon Foundry.
1894Started the Salton Foundry.

He and his wife took an active part in the establishment of the Falkirk Cottage Hospital.  Founder of the Science and Arts School in Park Street, Falkirk.

Robert William Kennard (1800-1870)

Kennard was an outsider.  He was born in 1800, the son of a London banker.  Many of his interests remained in the city and he was a Commissioner of Lieutenancy for the City of London as well as a magistrate for Westminster, Middlesex, Hertfordshire and [of course] Stirlingshire.  He was Sheriff of London and Middlesex in 1846-7, and Conservative MP for Newport, Isle of Wight, from 1857.  As well as his commercial interest in the Falkirk Iron Works, he had a foundry and collieries in the south of Wales.  He also invested in railways and was chairman of the Northern and Eastern Railway and the Tournay and Jurbise Railway, director of the Great Eastern Railway, the Oude and Rohilkund Railway.  He died in 1870.

G.B. Bailey, 2021