Bottling plant, Falkirk Brewery

for James Aitken & Co. (Falkirk) Ltd, Newmarket St.

In May 1938 a new bottling plant for Aitken’s Brewery was opened at a cost of approximately £20,000.  J G Callander presented Miss E M Aitken, sister of late James H Aitken and a descendent of the Aitken family, with a silver bowl from himself and the contractors.

The building lay along the east side of Hope Street and is well remembered by the local community who recall the clinking of the bottles, the all-female workforce and the smell of the beer.  The structure possessed no architectural merit at all but shows the versatility of the architect who oversaw the construction of several complex industrial buildings and the plant that they contained.  The plant was capable of automatically turning out from 4,000 to 5,000 labelled bottles of beer per hour. 

From the bottling hall the cases were taken by conveyor to an elevator lifting them to the room above for storage and subsequently for loading onto lorries.  The top floor also had rooms for the manager, a reception, room and offices for despatch clerks.

Contractors – Brickwork – J Murdoch & Co, Larbert; Joiner work – J & A Main; Slater work – James K Millar Ltd; Plumber work – John T Borland; Plaster and Cement work – D MacNair & Sons Ltd; Glazier work – Daniel O’May Ltd; Electrical work – A Mayes; Steel windows – F Braby & Co Ltd, Glasgow; Steel work – Redpath, Brown & Co, Edinburgh; Smith work – Thomas Hadden, Edinburgh; Machinery – H Pontifex & Sons, London.

As was often the case, J G Callander was then commissioned by the same client, James Aitken & Co (Falkirk) Ltd, to oversee the design and construction of new boiler plant at Falkirk Brewery.  The first sod was cut on 30 July 1940 and it was formally opened in November 1941 by Provost Begg who was a teetotaller.  The invitation had come from his good friend J G Callander who was also a teetotaller.  J G Callander presented him with a silver plate.  The boiler room contained two Lancashire boilers 30ft long by 8ft 6ins diameter to work at a pressure of 120 lbs per sq ins.  Each was capable of a normal evaporation of 8000 lb of water per hour.  The feed water before entering the boilers passed through a fuel economiser having 96 vertical pipes.  This was placed in the flue at the back of the boilers and recovered a quantity of the heat.

G.B. Bailey, 2021