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The Industries of Scotland
Manufacturers in Iron


THE following Act passed by the Scottish Parliament in 1686, throws some light on the origin of working in cast iron in this country:

"His Majesty and Estates of Parliament, taking into consideration the great advantage that the nation may have by the trade of Founding, lately brought into the kingdom by John Meikle, for casting of balls, cannons, and other such useful instruments, do, for encouragement to him, and others in the same trade, statute and ordain, that the same shall enjoy the benefit and priviledges of a manufacture in all points as the other manufactures newly erected are allowed to have by the laws and Acts of Parliament, and that for the space of nineteen years next following the date hereof."

The Carron Ironworks may, however, claim to be the birthplace of the Scotch iron trade in its most important form; and long had the reputation of being the most extensive foundry in Britain. Though now surpassed in extent, they retain their old reputation for producing work of a superior kind, and in several branches of production they may be said to have no rivals. The works were established in 1760, under a chartered company, projected by Dr Roebuck, of Sheffield, who appears to have been the first to appreciate the value of the iron ores of Scotland. The operations of the Company have all along embraced the digging and smelting of the ore, the manufacture of the iron into an endless variety of articles, and the sending of these into every market of the world. Notwithstanding the great extension of the iron trade that has taken place in recent years, the Carron Works have not been much enlarged; and though improved appliances have been introduced, the buildings maintain pretty much their original appearance, allowance being made for the effects produced by the smoke and dust which have swept around them for a century. The establishment is situated on the bank of the Carron River, about two miles from Falkirk, and may be most conveniently reached from Grahamston railway station.

The operations carried on within the works were long kept secret from the outside world, and the rule which excluded Burns when he went to view the place is yet relaxed only in the case of persons who are not likely to use to the prejudice of the company any knowledge they may gain while witnessing what is going on. The poet gave vent to his feelings on the occasion referred to in the following lines, which he scratched on. a pane of a window in the inn at Carron:—

"We cam' na here to view your warks,
In hopes to be main wise,
But only, lest we gang to hell,
It may be na'e surprise;
But when we titled at your door,
Your porter dought na hear us;
Sae may, should we to hell's yetts come,
Your billy Satan sair us!"

If the history of Carron Ironworks were minutely written, it would be a record of much interest, as showing the many stages of improvement through which the manufacture of iron has passed. It must suffice here to mention the change which has taken place in the motive power at the works. The site of the establishment was chosen on account of the abundant and convenient supply of water which could be made available for driving the machinery. The blast was created, and the tilt-hammers, lathes, and other machines were driven by water applied over a large number of wheels. As the premises were extended the supply of water became inadequate, and somewhat anomalous means of overcoming this difficulty were devised. While James Watt was working out his improvements on the steam-engine, he entered into partnership with Dr Roebuck of the Carron Ironworks, and a joint-patent was taken out for a condenser. This partnership was not a fortunate one for Watt. During the time he was associated with Dr Roebuck, however, he erected a large steam-engine at Carron, and that was the anomalous contrivance alluded to. Instead of the power of the engine being applied directly to the machinery, it was merely employed to

pump back into a reservoir the water that had passed over the water-wheels, and so enable it to be used again and again. The engine was fitted with four pumps, which raised to a height of thirty-six feet forty tons of water per minute. This old servaut of the company has been sadly neglected. Though it has been allowed to remain in its original position, nothing has been done to prevent it falling into decay. The engine-room is crumbling into ruins, and the iron-work is black and furrowed by oxidation. As one of the earliest engines ever made, this piece of mechanism is an object of much interest to men of science; and it is to be regretted that the very little care necessary for its preservation has not been taken. The engine, which is on the atmospheric principle, has a cylinder six feet in diameter, by eight feet in depth, and the beam is about thirty feet in length. The steam was supplied by three cast-iron boilers, two of which are globular in shape, and measure fifteen feet in diameter. About thirty years ago this engine was superseded by one of improved design, applied directly to the machinery, and since then the use of water power has gradually died out. The machinery in the engineers' shops is, however, kept in motion by a powerful turbine wheel. A few years ago a splendid beam engine was added to the establishment. It was made by the company's own workmen, and supplies the blast to all the furnaces. The steam cylinder is six feet in diameter, and the piston has a stroke of ten feet. The blast cylinder is one hundred and four inches in diameter, and ten feet deep.

On approaching the works by the long irregularly built street leading in an almost direct line from Grahamston, the visitor's eye is first attracted by the flames of five blast furnaces which stand on the south side of the works. The smaller flames issuing from the chimneys of the cupola and air-furnaces next arrest attention; and a nearer approach brings into view a whole forest of chimneys, shooting up from amid vast ranges of brick-built workshops. On getting inside the boundaries of the establishment the mere sightseer would probably be somewhat disappointed. The great extent of the place does not become apparent until the various departments are visited in succession; nor can it be said that externally the workshops present an inviting appearance. But within those ragged- looking and smoke-begrimed structures, processes go on which illustrate some of the grandest developments of human ingenuity; and in no individual establishment, in this country at least, can such a variety of operations in the manufacture of iron be seen. As one passes through the place, the roar of furnaces, the clash of machinery, and the clatter of anvils, fall upon the ear from all sides, and combined with the irregular nature of the roadways, the immense and apparently confused piles of iron, old and new, and of finished and unfinished articles of every conceivable form, produce a most bewildering effect on persons unaccustomed to such sounds and scenes.

Persons who are privileged to visit the works are first shown the various processes in smelting iron, which are similar to those already described as being practised at Gartsherrie, and are then conducted through the other departments, commencing with the pattern-shop. The latter is a large three-story building, on the lower floor of which are a saw-mill and other machinery for preparing wood. On the middle floor the patterns are made; and the upper is filled from end to end with a vast collection of patterns of articles of all sorts, from a spittoon to the cylinders of a 200-horse power engine. As the cost of making the patterns is considerable—those here collected representing many thousands of pounds—they are carefully preserved. The patterns are chiefly made of wood, and considerable skill is required for their construction. When the patterns are completed, they pass into the hands of the moulders, who take an impression or mould of them in sand. The more simple the outline and plainer the surface of the article, the more easy it is to form the mould. For instance, nothing could be more simple than the operation of making a mould for the heater of a dressing-iron; but the moulding of a tea-kettle requires considerable skill on the part of the workman.

A few years ago the Prince of Wales visited Carron for the purpose of inspecting the works, and expressed a desire to see the pro¬cess of making a mould. The moulding of a common three-legged pot was shown him, and no better illustration could be given of the moulder's work. The patterns for a pot consist of nine pieces—two for the body, three for the feet, and two for each of the ears. The body pieces have been formed by taking a completed pot, denuding it of feet and ears, and cutting it vertically into two pieces. These pieces the moulder takes, and, placing the severed edges together, lays them down on his bench with the bottom upward. He then encloses the pattern in a circular casing, which he fills up with sand. The sand is rammed down all round and over the pattern, care being taken during this process to insert the feet pieces, and also a wooden plug to form a "gate" through which to pour the metal. The moulder then turns the box over, and fills the inside of the pot with sand. The next part of the operation is to take out the pattern and leave open and entire the space it occupies. The advantage of having the casing and the pattern in sections now becomes manifest The upper section of the casing is unfastened and taken off, when it is seen that the sand bears an impression of the bottom of the pot. The side pieces are in like manner removed, leaving the body pattern clear. The latter is carefully lifted off, one-half at a time, exposing the "core," or globular mass of sand which represents the interior of the pot. The surface of the sand is next thickly dusted with ground charcoal, and rubbed quite smooth—a process which makes the iron take a finer " skin" than it would otherwise do. The feet and ear pieces having been withdrawn, all that is now necessary is to put the casing together again, fasten it tight up, and prepare the "gate" by pulling out the plug and rounding off the edges of the hole. So compact does the sand become, that the completed mould may be moved about freely without sustaining injury. An expert hand can mould a pot of the largest size in from fifteen to twenty minutes.

After a certain number of moulds have been prepared, the workmen proceed to "cast" them. The molten metal is carried from the furnaces in huge ladles, and appears to be as fluid as water. When it is poured into the mould, gas is at once generated, which finds its way through the sand, and, issuing from the joints of the casing, becomes ignited, and burns with a beautiful purple flame. Were the gas not allowed to escape, the mould would burst, and the consequences to the workmen would be most disastrous. It is a curious fact that, while a few drops of water would ruin a mould, the boiling metal may be poured in from a height of a couple of feet without disturbing a particle of the sand. When the metal has cooled sufficiently, it is dug out of the sand and taken to the dressing shops, where roughnesses are removed. Articles cast in several pieces are then carried to the fitting shops, where they are put together. Kettles and stew-pans, which are to be tinned, are first annealed, and then passed to turners, who put a smooth and bright surface on the inside. The tinning is then done, the handles are put on, the outsides japanned, and the completed goods removed to the warehouse. Portions of many of the articles are of malleable iron, such as the handles of kettles and pans, and in making these a large number of smiths are employed.

The division of labour system is extensively applied in the works, and the result is, that the men in the various departments display extraordinary expertness. When a boy enters on his apprenticeship, he chooses, or has chosen for him, the branch of work which he is to follow, and to that he adheres. Let us suppose that a boy selects pot-moulding. After some preliminary training, he is entrusted with the making of pots of the smallest size. As he advances in years, so does the size of his pots increase; and by the time that grey hairs come, he finds his hands employed upon vessels so capacious that each might contain a dozen of those he made in his early days. This is one of the peculiarities of life at Carron; and though it looks as if designed to remind the men of the flight of time and the growth of years upon them, it is simply the result of promotion by seniority. The mould for a small pot requires nearly as much time to make as that of a large one; but there is a difference of price in favour of the latter, and these the older hands claim the privilege of making. Another peculiarity of the pot-making branch is the mode of payment. A man agrees to make a certain number of pots for half-a-crown, and he is allowed one shilling of premium on every hundred he produces. Taken altogether, the men employed in moulding make higher wages than those in the other departments, and it is no unusual thing for one of them to receive as much as L.3 for a week's work; but the general wage of the class may be set down at about 25s. a-week.

Though the reputation of Carron is now chiefly based on its production of what may be called domestic iron-work—such as stoves, grates, cooking ranges, boilers, pots, rain-pipes, &c.—at one time it was closely identified with the manufacture of cannon and shot. The now obsolete piece of ordnance known as the "carronade" was there brought to perfection, and derived its name from the works. None of those guns have been made since 1852, about which time the revolution which has taken place in the construction of implements of war commenced. Among the heaps of old iron in the works may be seen one or two condemned castings of carronades, which show the mode of manufacture. The guns were cast solid, in an upright position; and in order to ensure closeness of texture, the mould was filled up for a distance of two feet above the muzzle of the gun. This superfluous mass was cut off, and the gun bored to the required calibre.

The company possess, and work for themselves, extensive mines of coal, iron, and lime, some of which are in the immediate vicinity of the establishment. The raw material is brought in by a railway which approaches close to the furnaces; and additional facility for carrying is afforded by a canal three miles in length, extending from the centre of the works to Grangemouth. For the conveyance of goods to the east and west, sixteen canal boats are employed. Six steam-vessels are owned by the company, and chiefly occupied in carrying the produce of the foundry to London, where the company have an extensive warehouse. Attached to the works is a farm of four hundred acres; and no fewer than five villages in the vicinity are dependencies of the company, and many of the houses have been built by them.

The company employ nearly two thousand men and boys, whose labours are never affected by fluctuations in the markets for the productions—as, when a temporary slackening of demand takes place, the company go on making stock goods; and as a precaution against any contingency that might interfere with the supply of raw material, an immense stock is always kept on hand. These circumstances are, of course, a great advantage to the men; and one of the results is that very few leave the service of the company, so that the great body of them are natives of the locality, whose forefathers for three or four generations had worked in the place. There are no Irish among them; and, in the aggregate, they are an exemplary body of workmen. They have three principal benefit societies and a number of minor ones. The most important society has been in_ existence for many years, has accumulated a considerable amount of capital, and holds an interest in the company. It has a membership of seven hundred, mostly heads of families. A co-operative store has flourished in connection with the works for upwards of forty years. No special provision for the education of the children of the workmen was provided by the company until recently, when a large and commodious schoolroom was erected by them.

The Falkirk Iron works, which are situated in the immediate vicinity of Carron, deserve notice, both on account of their extent and the kind of goods they produce. They were started in 1819 by a company chiefly, if not entirely, composed of workmen from Carron. The beginning was not a pretentious one, but the concern prospered. In 1848 the establishment was acquired by the present proprietors, Messrs Kennard, who had been shareholders for many years in the old company. Since then it has steadily risen in importance, and is now the largest foundry in Scotland, with the exception of Carron. Nine hundred men and boys are employed; and when ordinarily busy, upwards of 300 tons of castings are turned out per week. The buildings, which cover eight acres of ground, have during the last few years been almost entirely reconstructed, and considerable additions are being made. The most improved appliances are in use in every department. During the Crimean war, 16,000 tons of shot and shell were made at the foundry for Government; and guns of all sizes, from 4 to 18-pounders, for use on board mercantile vessels, are manufactured in considerable numbers. With these exceptions, the productions of the firm are associated with the arts of peace, and they range from bridges of the largest size to ornamental inkstands and fancy castings of the most delicate patterns possible in cast iron. The castings for some of the principal iron bridges in India, Italy, and Spain have been made at the Falkirk Ironworks. The heaviest pieces of work recently executed were the columns for the Solway Viaduct. This bridge is supported on groups of cast-iron columns, securely fixed in the bed of the Firth, and strengthened by diagonal bracings of malleable iron. The columns were cast in ten and twenty feet lengths, which were readily bolted together, and made as strong as if the entire column were cast in one piece. A large number of fountains for the Calcutta Water Company were turned out a short time ago. These were of a neat design, and bore the arms of the company, and the maxim "Waste not, want not," in English and Hindustani. Those for the East Indies; sugar-pans for the West Indies; tubular telegraph-posts for South America; grates, pots, and pans for the million; and beautiful objects of art for homes in many lands—might be seen piled side by side in the elegant arcade and extensive shipping warehouses, testifying alike to the wide connection of the firm and to the merit of Scottish workmanship.

Messrs Kennard have devoted great attention to the production of cast-iron goods of an artistic kind; and it is stated that no establishment in Britain possesses such a valuable collection of patterns for stoves, grates, umbrella-stands, garden-seats, verandahs, iron stairs, balconies, and fancy articles—such as inkstands, card-trays, mirror- frames, statuary groups, &c. The designs of these articles are without exception beautiful, and they are being manufactured in constantly increasing variety. When any new article is to be produced, a drawing of it is first made, and from that a modeller forms a pattern in wood, wax, or plaster. From the pattern a cast is taken in tin, and from the tin copy, which is nicely chased up, the moulder makes the impression in sand from which the iron is cast. A smoother surface is thus given to the iron than would be the case were a wood pattern used. In all cases the details of the pattern are sharpened in the iron after casting, by filing. Though no model seems to be too difficult for the moulder to make in one piece, yet, as a matter of convenience, most articles of any size or complexity are made in several pieces. A specimen of work from the moulding- shop in which the ornamental castings are made was shown at the Exhibition of 1862, along with a variety of other castings, and excited a great deal of interest, as showing the capabilities of the sand-moulding process. It was a small figure of a stag browsing; and, in order to its being cast in one piece, the mould had to be made in upwards of one hundred parts, each part being simply a clod of moist sand held together by compression.

There are six other foundries in the neighbourhood of Falkirk, which give employment in the aggregate to six hundred men. Glasgow, however, is the centre of the iron trade, as indeed of nearly all other trades in Scotland, and produces a great amount of iron goods of every kind. The foundries and machine shops of Edinburgh, Leith, Dalkeith, Kirkcaldy, Dundee, and Aberdeen, also turn out a considerable quantity of machinery, &c.

Fire-grates and stoves form a large portion of the produce of several establishments, and one in the Falkirk district is devoted exclusively to making stoves after American patterns. A "ventilating fire-place," recently patented by Mr J. D. Morrison, surgeon-dentist, Edinburgh, may be noticed here, as it bids fair to revolutionise the modes of warming and ventilating hitherto in use. Mr Morrison's invention consists of a combination of the open fireplace and close stove, possessing the pleasant appearance of the former, and the active heating qualities of the latter, and yet free from the defects of both. As applied to a room, it consists of a semicircular apparatus, fitted into an ordinary fireplace, the centre projecting a little beyond the lintel of the mantelpiece. This form, besides giving the fireplace a handsome appearance, serves, as will be seen, a twofold purpose. The grate containing the fire is brought a little further forward than usual. There are two sliding doors opening from the centre to right and left, for modifying, as required, the consumption of fuel and the warmth of the apartment. These doors, when open, expose a large amount of radiating surface. taking in a range of 150° of the room. The products of combustion are purified before escaping to the air, and very little smoke is emitted. On either side of the cast-iron chimney at the back of the fireplace are two caliducts for moderately warming fresh air before entering the room. And here the semicircular form of the apparatus is made to perform its other function. By means of a perforated opening above the fire, and separated from it, the warm fresh air is discharged radially into the room. The tendency of the heated air to ascend is taken advantage of in producing a complete circulation and continual changes, for, as the air passes over and across the room, it becomes gradually cooled, and descends by the walls and windows furthest from the heat. By a simple contrivance, the air which has been vitiated by respiration is returned to the fire, and freed from its impurities. By another arrangement in the system, the vitiated air is conveyed through the ceiling to the fire in a room above. This continual influx of fresh air, and the abstraction, as described, of the air after having been used, besides effectually ventilating and heating the room, serves yet another purpose. The draughts caused by the ordinary fireplace are completely neutralised by Mr Morrison's apparatus. The weight of the new grate is very little more than that of one of the ordinary kind, and it is quite as easily fitted to its place. Mr Morrison intends his system of warming and ventilating to be applied to hospitals, churches, public buildings, and ships, as well as to dwelling-houses; but, especially in its application to rooms, his endeavour has been to realise in this country the mild and salubrious conditions of a warmer climate. The system is applicable to all the apartments of private dwellings. Messrs Kemp & Co., philosophical-instrument makers, Edinburgh, have arranged with the patentee to add a supplementary establishment for constructing and introducing the apparatus in all its applications.

Though cast iron may be readily formed into articles of complex shape, its brittleness sets a limit to its use; and in the construction of the working parts of machinery, or articles in which great strength and lightness have to be combined, malleable iron must be used. But from the difficulty of working malleable iron, the cost of articles made of it is much greater. The knowledge how to treat the metal, so that, while it might be cast into any shape, it should retain all the qualities of malleable iron, was until recently a desideratum. The possibility of so treating both iron and steel has, we believe, been successfully proved, but as yet the process is kept secret. The conversion of pig-iron into malleable by the "puddling" process was commenced in Scotland about forty years ago, when a number of workmen from England and Wales were brought into Lanark-shire for the purpose of instructing the Scotch ironworkers. The first attempts, however, to establish this branch of trade were not successful, and it was not until 1836 that it was fairly started. There are now nearly four hundred puddling furnaces and fifty rolling-mills in operation, which in 1867 produced 143,800 tons of malleable iron, valued at L.1,006,600. The principal firm in the trade is the Glasgow Iron Company, which has extensive premises at St Rollox, Motherwell, and Wishaw.

The works for the conversion of pig-iron into malleable are nearly all constructed on the same plan. The mill consists of a vast roof supported on iron pillars, so that the sides are open. The puddling furnaces are built at intervals along one or two sides of the mill; and the floor, which is paved with iron plates, is crowded with machinery, a powerful steam-engine occupying the centre.

The work of the puddlers is probably the severest kind of labour voluntarily undertaken by men. The puddling-furnace is a compact structure of firebrick cased in iron. It consists of three parts—the fireplace, the hearth, and the flue. The fireplace is on the left-hand side, and is separated from the hearth, which occupies the central place, by a low wall or ridge. To the right of the hearth is the flue, the entrance to which slopes downward from the hearth, so that, when a fire is lighted in the fireplace, the flame is drawn close over the hearth in its passage to the flue. Each furnace requires two men to work it. One of these is the puddler, who has all the responsibility, and the other his assistant, who performs the portions of the work in which only slight skill is required. The quantity of pig-iron operated upon at a time is about four hundredweight, and is called a charge. One charge is got out of the furnace every two hours, and the work goes on night and day, from one week's end to the other, Sunday excepted—the men taking the night and day shifts by turns. After a charge is withdrawn, the furnace undergoes some slight preparation before another is put in. A coating of "bull dog"—a material prepared from the slag of the furnace—is laid on the hearth, to fortify it against the intense heat. The pig-iron, which has previously been broken into pieces of convenient size, is then thrown in, and the doors of the furnace are closed and sealed up with cinders. Intense heat is then generated; and so fiercely does the fire burn that the flame issues from the top of the chimney, which is upwards of forty feet high. In about a quarter of an hour after the furnace has been sealed, the iron shows signs of melting, and an aperture in the hearth door, about six inches square, is opened. The puddler, whose eyes seem to be proof against a light as dazzling as the sun at noon, looks in at the opening, and determines whether it is time to disturb the iron. So soon as he sees the finer angles of the iron begin to melt, he thrusts in a stout rod of malleable iron, and moves the lumps of metal about, so that the entire mass may be equally heated. If this were not done, the parts which melted first would be burned up and lost, and the quality of what remained deteriorated. The puddler's assistant takes a turn at this part of the work; and during its progress the heat is occasionally moderated by means of the "damper," or by dashing small quantities of water upon the iron.

At frequent intervals the puddling bar is withdrawn, and cooled by being dipped into water. The iron dissolves gradually on the hearth, and after a time begins to heave and bubble, innumerable jets of flame bursting forth all over its surface. The desired chemical change is now going on. The hot air from the furnace sweeps over the iron and carries off a great part of the carbon, sulphur, phosphorus, and silicon contained in the pig-iron. Care must be taken to prevent the metal from becoming too fluid; and as soon as it attains a pasty consistency, the heat is moderated. Meantime the puddler uses his rod vigorously; and as the metal begins to "dry," the labour of moving it about is increased. The metal at length seems to curdle and become granular. As it then ceases to give off carbonic oxide, the heat of the furnace is again raised, and the particles of metal begin to adhere together. From this point the chief puddler undertakes and completes the operation. As the metal agglutinates, it becomes very difficult to move. The puddler has to exert himself to the utmost; and he dare not relax his efforts for a single minute, else all the previous labour would be worse than lost. Though the perspiration trickles from his face and arms, and oozes through his scanty clothing, he must toil on. His eye is never removed from watching the contents of the furnace; and the expression of anxiety on his face indicates that the operation has reached a critical point. When the metal has attained a certain degree of consistency, the puddler divides it into five or six heaps. He then works each heap into a "ball" or "bloom" The door of the hearth is opened, and one after the other the balls are drawn out with a large pair of tongs, and dragged over the floor to the " shingling" hammer. As the balls are drawn from the furnace they have a spongy appearance, and slag and other impurities trickle from them. The various operations described occupy, on the average, about two hours, and the quantity of mire- fined pig-iron required to make a ton of puddled iron may be stated at from twenty-two to twenty-three cwt. An invention for facilitating and making more perfect the work of the pudellers, has recently been adopted at some of the malleable ironworks. It operates by injecting a current of air at high pressure into the furnace. This is done by making the puddling bar hollow, and affixing to the outer end of it an india-rubber tube, communicating with a powerful air-pump. The patentee is Mr Richardson of Glasgow; and the advantages gained by the contrivance are, that a charge of the furnace can be puddled in fifteen minutes less than the time required by the usual process, and that the iron produced is purer and tougher.

It is the puddler's duty to convey the "balls" from the furnace, and to place them one by one on the anvil of the " shingling" hammer. Before the invention of the steam-hammer, a somewhat clumsy contrivance was used for squeezing the slag out of the puddled iron, and beating it into shape. Now the steam-hammer is everywhere employed for those purposes. When the puddler lays a "ball" on the anvil, he waits to see the result of the first blow, and from it he is enabled to judge of the quality of his work. The "shingler" then steps forward, and takes charge of the "ball." His feet and legs are encased in iron armour, his body is covered by a stout leather apron, and he wears a mask of the same material. One stroke of the hammer makes apparent the use for this warlike attire, for it sends out in every direction jets of liquid fire, which patter against the legs of the workman, and would inflict fearful injuries were they to come in contact with the skin. The manipulation of the ball under the hammer is severe work, and requires great expertness. The "shingler" uses a pair of tongs about four feet in length, and with these seizes the ball and turns it on the anvil every time the hammer ascends. He so manages that the iron assumes the shape of a brick; and the operation occupies only two or three minutes. The "shingler" passes the metal, yet at a white heat, to the "rollers," who pass it through a series of grooves, in a pair of solid iron cylinders. By this means it is drawn into bars of the required size.

The iron produced by the above process is called "puddled-bar," and has to go through another operation before it is suited for even the commoner purposes of the blacksmith. In order to produce what is known in the trade as "common iron," the puddled bars are cut up into short lengths, and a number of these are laid in a heap of sufficient size to make a bar of any stated dimensions. They are then placed in a "reheating furnace," and exposed to a free circulation of heat. In about half an hour the iron becomes heated to what is known as the welding-point, and is then removed and rolled as before. When the rolling is completed, the bars are taken away by boys, and cut to the desired length by means of a circular-saw, which passes through the metal with astonishing rapidity and with a hideous noise. The bars are then straightened on an iron plate, stamped with the maker's name, and allowed to cool. From the moment the iron is taken out of the reheating furnace till the bars are ready for the market, the utmost expedition is required on the part of the workmen; and their operations, especially when witnessed at night, form one of the most interesting sights connected with the manufacture of iron. When a finer quality of iron is required, another welding and rolling are given to it. These repeated heatings, however, entail a considerable loss of material—equal, we believe, to eight or ten per cent. for each heat. In making the best quality of malleable iron, it is usual to refine the pig-iron before putting it into the puddling-furnace. The refining is done in a furnace specially constructed for the purpose; and the process consists in fusing the iron with coke, and thus ridding it of a large proportion of its impurities.

The quantity of malleable iron used in making machinery, building ships, and for other purposes, is immense. From year to year the workers in that material have been called upon to produce heavier pieces of work than formerly; and it is gratifying to find Scotch firms occupying the foremost place among the makers of gigantic smithwork. The heaviest forgings required for the largest war and mercantile vessels afloat have been made at Glasgow. When the Great Eastern was building, it was feared that no firm would be found willing to undertake the forging of her shafts; but the Lance- field Forge Company, of Glasgow, accepted the task, and executed it in a most satisfactory style. The shafts of many large war-ships, mail-steamers, and other vessels, have been made at the splendidly appointed works of this company. The shafts for the steamers of the Cunard, Peninsular and Oriental, and Royal Mail Companies, as well as for the Achilles, Black Prince, Monarch, and other ships of the British navy, and also for the war-ships built by Messrs Napier & Son for foreign governments, were made at Parkhead Forge, Glasgow, by Messrs Rigby & Beardmorp. The heaviest piece of work produced at this forge was the crank-shaft of the Monarch—an immense war-ship, recently built at Chatham. When the shaft left the hammer, it weighed thirty-two tons, and when finished it measured 23i inches in diameter. It was feared that the passage of such a heavy and compact mass over the bridges on the public road would not be safe, and some difficulty was experienced in arranging for its conveyance to Chatham. The North British Railway Company undertook to carry it, and the journey to the railway station and thence was safely accomplished, a special train being run for the purpose.

The Parkhead Forge is an extensive establishment, giving employment to seven hundred men and boys; but in consequence of the heavy nature of the work, the proportion of boys to men is smaller than in other branches of iron manufacture. The buildings cover several acres of ground, and are constructed in a most substantial style. On approaching the entrance to the forge, the visitor is startled by the vibration of the ground under his feet, caused by the incessant blows of the steam-hammers; and a peep inside reveals a scene of extraordinary activity. The rolling-mill is three hundred. feet in length and one hundred and fifty in breadth. At one end of the mill are ranged twenty-two puddling furnaces, and half a dozen reheating furnaces. The rolling and other machines are driven by a pair of horizontal engines of 300 horse power. The flywheel of the engines is eighteen tons in weight, and makes one hundred revolutions a minute. The steam is supplied by fourteen vertical boilers heated from the puddling furnaces. The iron is first rolled into bars, then cut up, reheated, and either rolled into ship and boiler plates, or into pieces suitable for the forge. A number of years ago the firm devoted attention to making armour plates. Their specimens stood the test of competition with those of English makers most creditably; and but for the want of convenience for carrying the plates—the nearest railway being a mile distant— Messrs Rigby & Beardmore would have obtained a fair share of patronage from our own and other governments. The machines are capable of producing plates eight inches thick, and some of the plates made of that thickness have weighed twelve tons each.

The forge or smithy is nearly as large as the rolling-mill, and its fittings are on a most gigantic scale. There are two steam-cranes, capable of lifting fifty tons each; four, forty tons each; and four, twelve tons each; and these are so arranged that a shaft or other piece of work may be passed from one to the other all over the shop. There are fifteen steam-hammers, varying in weight from seven tons to two. Finished shafts—that is, finished so far as the hammering is concerned—lie about in all directions, and so delicately have these been operated upon by the hammers that turning would seem to be almost superfluous. Yet they are destined, before leaving the place, to be fitted into a lathe and turned with the greatest exactness. In the heating furnaces, and under the hammers, forgings may be seen in various stages of progress, and a glance at these makes plain the whole process of forging. In making a crank-shaft, for instance, a piece of iron eight or ten feet long, and of suitable diameter, is used as a "haft" or handle. At one extremity it is fitted with cross-bars or levers, by which it may be turned on its axis; and the other end is shaped conveniently for having smaller pieces of iron welded to it. The welding end is placed in a furnace, and in about an hour and a-half is raised to a welding heat. The crane by which the iron is moved about is fitted with a chain collar or sling, in the loop of which the iron rests. The collar works in a pulley attached to the chain of the crane, and moves easily, so that the shaft may be readily turned on the anvil. When the proper degree of heat is attained, the stopping of the furnace is removed, the steam-crane put in motion, and the gigantic bolt is swung on to the anvil of the steam- hammer. Several large slabs of iron, similarly heated in another furnace, are then brought out and laid on the "face" of the "haft." At a signal from the head forgeman, the hammer drops upon the glowing mass, and sparks of dazzling brilliancy fly off in all directions. Again and again the hammer descends, the iron meantime being carefully moved about, so that the whole may be worked into a homogeneous mass. Gradually the iron assumes a dull colour, but not before the desired end is obtained. It is then swung back to the furnace, comes forth glowing, has another addition made to its bulk, and so on. The most difficult part of the work is the formation of the crank piece, which is forged solid, and forms a huge square projection on one side of the shaft. When the shaft has acquired the proper dimensions, it is allowed to cool, and the haft piece is cut off to be used again. As the shafts are turned down until a good surface is obtained, an extra inch or so is allowed in the forging. All shafts are made in lengths of about twenty feet, each length having flanged ends, so that they may be firmly united.

For dressing and finishing such huge pieces of iron special and costly appliances are necessary. These are in the machine shop, an apartment one hundred and fifty feet in length, and fifty feet in breadth, both sides of which are lined with turning-lathes, slotting and boring machines, &c., of extraordinary size. One of the turning- lathes is said to be the largest in the world; and some idea of its dimensions and form may be obtained from the fact, that the crank shaft of the Monarch, though weighing thirty-two tons, was turned in it without taxing its capabilities to the utmost. Iron shavings fully one inch broad, and one-eighth of an inch thick, are turned off with apparently as little effort as if the material had been wood, instead of iron. One of the boring machines is sufficiently powerful to drill a hole ten inches in diameter through a solid block of iron, and the largest slotting machine can send off chips a pound or two in weight. When the work leaves this department, it is generally ready for being fitted into its place.

Messrs Rigby & Beardmore pay nearly L.40,000 a-year in wages; and in all departments of the establishment, fifteen thousand tons of iron and sixty thousand tons of coal are used annually.

The "forehands" employed in the operations described above earn much higher wages than any other class engaged in the manufacture of iron; but no one who knows the nature of their work will say that they are overpaid. When trade is moderately brisk, a puddler working full time makes from 8s. 6d. to 9s. per "shift" of twelve hours; but out of that sum he has to pay his assistant or "chap" 3s. or 3s. 6d., so that his weekly earnings, supposing him to work five shifts, are from 25s. to 28s. It follows that when the puddlers are slack, the men employed in the other branches of iron- making are equally so. When working full time, shinglers make about L.4 a-week, and chief rollers £5. All are paid according to piecework—so much a-ton. The "forehand" shinglers, rollers, and heaters engage their own assistants, and pay them out of their joint earnings; but men are so eager to learn the work, in consequence of the high rate of remuneration obtained ultimately, that they are found ready to undertake the subordinate position at low wages, so that a liberal share falls to the "forehands." The work, as may be gleaned from the foregoing, is of the most arduous kind, and the best constitutions cannot stand it long. One effect of the severe heat and exertion is the creation of a craving for stimulants, such as beer, which at once cool and support the workmen; and to a certain extent no man would grudge them these; but unfortunately, the craving does not always cease with the work, and the consequence is that a considerable proportion of them may be set down as being of irregular habits. When their day's work or night's work is done, they are too much exhausted to devote attention to anything of the nature of mental culture, so that they are not so well-informed nor intelligent as the average of workmen engaged in other occupations. The forehand forgemen are paid at the rate of from 10s. to 15s. a-day. They require to exercise great care and skill in the manipulation of heavy forgings. A flaw in the forging of a crank might be attended by the most disastrous results to life and property. In order to prevent such a thing, every blow of the hammer has to be carefully directed, and its effect closely watched. A good forgeman must know something about the chemistry of iron, and also be well up in figures. In making machinery, the greatest exactness has to be observed in the dimensions of the respective parts, and a crank made at Glasgow must be so nicely finished, that when it is taken to Chatham or elsewhere it will fit exactly into the bearings prepared for it.


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