Torwood Foundry

Jones and Campbell Ltd.

Illus: 1950s Ordnance Survey Maps (National Library of Scotland).

Sites & Monuments Record

Foundry Loan, LarbertSMR 703NS 858 825


1888: James Jones and Dermont Campbell founded the company.   Jones owned a nail-making business at Port Downie in Camelon, and with his father ran a timber business, which he had set up in 1875, next to the new foundry.  His wife was Margaret Dobbie, of the Larbert Foundry family.  James Forbes of Larbert Foundry had been a junior partner in the nail-making business.  Dermont Campbell had been a cashier with that firm.

Two brick buildings were put up at right angles to one another on a site next to the Larbert Sawmill.  One of these was of two storeys, with a fitting shop on the ground floor.  Drilling, tapping and grinding machines were powered from an overhead shaft driven by a compound steam engine.  The upper floor housed the pattern shop and a warehouse.  The moulding shop was in the other building, with room for future expansion.  The blast for the cupola was provided by a fan driven by the steam engine of the adjacent sawmill.  A crane hoisted raw materials to its top.  A private railway siding was provided.  The Torwood Foundry was officially opened in February 1888 and Tom Jones, James’ eldest son, tapped the furnace.

The main products of the foundry were fireplaces and ranges.  The latter included the Rosebery, Tor and Rob Roy.  George Binnie was appointed foundry manager.

1894:  New warehouses erected and moulding shops enlarged.  The Belle cooker had been introduced in 1892 and the Reform range about the same time.  Sanitary systems sold well.

1898: New cupola tapped in December.  It was 34ft high by 7ft in diameter, built of riveted 3/8 inch steel plates.  Maximum capacity of 15 tons an hour.  As only 10 tons were required, the internal diameter was reduced to 42 inches.  The blast was supplied by an Acme M2 blower manufactured by Samuelson & Co in Banbury.  It had an elastic clutch and an automatic shut off in the event of an accident to the cupola.  Supplied and fitted by Blackadder Brothers and Wm Sharp & Son.

1899: Moulding, fitting, grinding and polishing shops extended onto adjacent feu.  Until now all the buildings had been on the east side of Foundry Loan.  Within a few years all moulding was transferred to the western site and the old feu used for fitting shops and warehouses.

1906:  Formed into a private limited company by James Jones of Torwoodhall and D.  Campbell, who were directors along with Mr Jones’ three sons: Tom B Jones of Airlie; Major James Forbes Jones; and Peter Forbes Jones of Dunmore.

1911: A disastrous fire gutted the grinding, fitting and engineering shops.  The workforce, principally fitters and grinders, were temporarily out of work.  The buildings were soon replaced.

1914:  Peter Jones acted as managing director for the duration of the First World War.  Dermont Campbell died and his son, Donald became a director.  Electric power was installed and the railway sidings extended.  Contracts from the War Office included the Pretorian range and heating stoves as well as hand grenade and trench mortar bomb cases.

1919: Robert Taylor became Works Manager.  When he left he established Robert Taylor & Co.  Production moved to rainwater and soil goods for the new housing being built.

1932: Despatch department extended.  In February a fire at Berlin Black shop dealt with by the Larbert Railway fire company.

1934: New office constructed.

1937: New dressing and fitting shops built and moulding shop extended.

1939-45: As in the First World War, ranges and stoves were made for the Government.

In 1946 the directors were Bruce Jones, Forbes Jones (managing director) and Tom Jones.  John Reid was works manager.  A new dressing shop was built, followed in 1948 by a substantial moulding shop of 30,000 sq. ft. with mechanisation in mind.  In 1947 an industrial building near the works was purchased and converted into a changing and bath unit.  New products such as the Torbelle cooker and Torwood boiler were introduced.  In 1949 the Torglow heater became a best seller.  These were quickly followed by the Tor cooker and the Torwood Chef.

1950:  The council bought Foundry Loan from the company and made it a public highway.  The new moulding shop was doubled in size.  Part of the old moulding shop was floored and turned into a warehouse.  The pattern shop and despatch department were relocated and the fitting shop went into the old dressing area.  A serious fire that year affected the office and pattern store.

1953: 10-ton per hour cupolas with charging machines, a gantry crane, monorail and material-weighing and handling equipment installed.  John Reid became a director.

1955-7: New pipe plant set up.

1961: No. 2 moulding line set up with the intention of moving over to the production of engine components.  BMC were setting up their new plant at Bathgate at this time.

1967:  Roderick F Jones appointed Secretary.  Bill Wilkinson became manager to oversee production of automotive and engineering castings.  The pipe plant was shut down and No. 1 mechanised plant with two powerful moulding machines put down on the same site.  It had roller track for the movement of boxes and conveyors above and below ground for sand.  The following year it produced road manhole covers for the Post Office.  Dick Watkins quality manager.

1969: No. 3 moulding line installed and fully mechanised over the following years.

1971: Bruce Forbes became managing director.  New customers included Perkins Engines, then the world’s biggest producer of diesel engines.

1972: Green sand facility installed, extending production to the valve, compressor and machine tool industries.

1976: Production of fitted goods finally ended.

Core shop re-equipped, new casting laundry built and equipped.

1979: Automatic micro-processor controlled moulding line set up on No. 1 line by Pramaggiore of Turin, Italy.  This was followed two years later by a second, larger, line.

1984: “Grey iron castings, grades 150 (10) to 260 (17); cupolas & electric channel furnaces 17 tonnes per hour.  Two micro-processor controlled automatic moulding lines…  Automotive and engineering castings.  Employment range 200-300”

1990: The assets of James Dickie’s foundry in Ayr purchased from the liquidator.  The firm had made small castings in small to medium quantities and thus complimented the Larbert work.  The works were improved, but after two years closed as they could not be made efficient enough.  Production was transferred to a new moulding line at Larbert and the Ayr site sold for housing.

2003: Phased close down over 6 months to give customers a chance to build stock and move their business.  The loss of the Massey Ferguson contract had reduced the profitability of the foundry.


  • 1888: 20
  • 1913: 300
  • 1929: 500
  • 1945: 345
  • 1946: 464
  • 1967: 400
  • 1979: 350-400
  • 1998: 65 jobs lost, c300 remain


Cookers, boilers, heating stoves, pipes and gutters.

In the 1980s the firm specialised in engineering castings for firms such as Massey Ferguson.

G.B. Bailey, 2021