Eglinton Chemical Company Limited, Irvine

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1888 The Eglinton Chemical Company, Limited, 27, St. Vincent Place, Glasgow.—  This has proved one of the most successful, as it is one of the most enterprising, concerns in the Scottish chemical trade. Founded about seventeen years ago to engage in the bichrome industry, it has developed in various directions since ; but these directions have been in the line of making the most of its natural resources, and utilising its by-products and waste materials.

While its head offices are situated in St. Vincent Place, its chief works, with which connection is maintained by telephone, are located at Irvine, about thirty miles distant, which was, we believe, originally selected as a fitting site owing to the low agricultural value of the ground there and its proximity to a good harbour and the main line of the Glasgow and South Western Railway. These works have been enlarged from time to time, and now constitute an extensive manufacturing centre devoted to the production on a considerable scale of bichromate of potash, patent bichromate of soda, and bleaching powder, with such other chemicals as are incidental to the production of these — such as sulphuric and muriatic acids and sulphates of potash and soda.

The ground covered by the works and used for the deposit of waste extends to about one hundred acres. We understand that arrangements have been made to include in the products of the establishment such other chrome salts as may be wanted by consumers, such as chromic acid, chromate and bichromate of ammonia, lime, &c., &c. In addition to the Irvine business the Company now control five other important works, forming, as has been already indicated, the development to some extent and the result in a large measure of constant research during the management of the general business since its origination.

The first acquisition consisted in the Glenarm limestone field, with its large quarries all along the coast of the county of Antrim, from Lame northwards for about fifty miles to Ballintoy, served by the harbour of Glenarm, about seven acres in extent, the absolute property of the Company, and another at Ballintoy held under lease. In this business they have three steamers of their own employed (in addition to steamers and sailers chartered from time to time), viz. Eglinton, Glenlut, and Glenarm — the latter the crack steamer of its size for carrying capacity, speed and equipment, in the coasting service. The exports consist of limestone and whiting, of which the Company are the largest shippers from Ireland, with limeshells and paving setts, the latter being made from a hard rock found adjacent to their limestone quarries ; and Iris bauxite — now so largely used all over the world in the manufacture of alum, and which they were the first, through their managers, to discover in Ireland and to supply for this purpose. It has been found quite practicable, we understand, to ship as much as four thousand tons per week from these harbours, steamers being loaded there at the rate of one hundred tons per hour. The limestone is of very fine quality, containing about 98 per cent, of carbonate, while the bauxite, when deprived of its water of combination, analyses up to 70 per cent, of aluma and from 1 to 2 per cent, of iron.

The next manufactory in point of importance is their brick works at Dundyvan, Coatbridge, in the very centre of the Scotch steel trade, where the flints obtained embedded in limestone at their Irish quarries, and bauxite brought from the same quarter, together with chrome ore such as is used at their Irvine works, are made into silica under processes patented by their manager, bauxite and chrome ore bricks respectively for lining Siemen’s, Martin’s steel furnaces, copper and gas furnaces, Bessemer’s converters, and for other metallurgical purposes. The flint bricks have already been largely adopted by the steel makers to the exclusion of the Welsh Dinas bricks, which previously held the chief position in the estimation of the trade.

27/03/1888 – Ayr Advertiser – Glasgow Exhibition  – Exhibits from Ayrshire – The Eglinton Chemical Company Limited, Irvine will exhibit various chromates, bichromate salts, and other productions of their chemical works; productions of their brick works, consisting chiefly of silica bricks for lining steel smelting furnaces and chrome bricks for lining steel smelting furnaces and Bessemer converters;……

Below – 1858 –  Eglinton Chemical Works and Brickworks, Glasgow

1858 eglinton chemical and brickworks glasgow

1893 – 1896 – Eglinton Silicate Brick Works – Coatbridge, Eglinton Chemical Co Limited

Below – 1898 Eglinton Silica Brick Works, Dundyvan

OS Map 1898 Eglinton Silica Brick Works, Dundyvan

Advert below – Eglinton Silica bricks made by Eglinton Chemical works for the Scotch Steel Makers

Eglinton Silica bricks made by Eglinton Chemical works for the Scotch Steel Makers

The Company’s other works are of less importance, their Firhill Works in Glasgow forming an auxiliary chiefly to the Glenarm whiting works, but including in their operations the grinding of flint and Cornish stone for use in the Potteries, and their tannery in Glebe Street, also in the city, being devoted to the working out of a process of tanning leather by means of bichromates, the Company’s staple article of production, and which is expected to become of considerable importance as the supply of bark for tanning purposes is becoming less easy to be obtained.

Altogether, the Eglinton Company employ about one thousand men, and they are represented at home and abroad by agents of first rate standing, the following being amongst the number, viz.: London — Mr. W. A. Bowditch, 43, Mincing Lane ; Liverpool — Messrs. John Haddock & Co., Exchange Buildings ; Lancashire — Messrs. John Bayley & Co., Manchester ; Yorkshire — W. P. England & Co., Huddersfield ; France and Belgium — Gray, Laurier & Co., 17, Philpot Lane, London ; Italy, Spain, and Portugal — Scott Bros., Newcastle-on-Tyne ; Germany and rest of Europe — Borries, Craig & Co., Newcastle-on-Tyne ; United States of America — J. L. and D. §. Biker, New York ; Canada — W. T. Benson & Co., Montreal.

We need hardly add that the directors are manufacturers and merchants of great experience as well as large capitalists, as may be judged by the enterprise and success which have characterised the career of the Company. The general manager and secretary is W. J. A. Donald, who has been associated with the Company as secretary and manager since its first inception.

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Link to Scotch Steel bricks

Below – Eglinton Silica Brick Co Ltd

Eglinton Silica Brick Co Ltd


William Baird and Co  – 1845 Construction of a new works started at Eglinton; over the next twenty years extensive mineral leases were acquired and the ironworks at Blair, Muirkirk, Lugar, and Portland were purchased and operated as the Eglinton Iron Co.

Below – William Baird & Co Ltd, Eglinton no 6 – Train engine

Willam Baird and Co Eglinton Train

1878 – Eglinton Chemical Co. 31 St. Vincent place — W. J. A. Donald, secretary

1926 – 1927 –  Eglinton Chemical Co., Ltd.

Below – 1891 – Edinburgh Gazette –  Eglinton Chemical Company Ltd

Edinburgh Gazette 1891 - Eglinton Chemical Co Ltd

Edinburgh Gazette 1891-- Eglinton Chemical Co Ltd

Below –  09/12/1899 –  Eglinton Chemical Company – front page of supervision order for winding up the company

Eglinton Chemical Company 09 - 12 - 1899


SS Eglinton  – a Coaster for general cargo built in 1877 for the Eglinton Chemical Company – Wrecked 23/04/1882

SS Eglinton  – a Coaster for general cargo built in 1892 for the Eglinton Chemical Company – 22/01/1902 sailed from Sunderland for Inverness with coal, posted missing. Wreck site details


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