Famous ships bear plate hallmarks
The earliest record relating to Clydebridge is a quotation, dated November 16, 1885, from Miller and Co, Coatbridge .
It was to supply a plate mill, cogging mill, and steam engines to drive the mills, plus a hot bloom shear and a plate shear.
This was addressed to Hugh Neilston, Barlanark House, Bothwell, and is for a grand total of £16,750.
Only the plate shear was accepted from this quotation, however, after its price had been reduced from £1250 to £1200.
Clydebridge Steelworks then opened in 1887.
It was one of the giants of industrial Scotland, and its steel plates were formed into many of the most famous ships built on the River Clyde (and elsewhere) including the Lusitania, Mauretania, Queen Mary, HMS Hood, Queen Elizabeth, QE2.
The adjacent Clyde Iron Works, which operated from 1786 to 1978, was where the hot blast process was invented, in 1828, by James Beaumont Neilson.
This one invention led to a rapid increase in iron manufacture and the growth of industry in Scotland.
An early cutting from the Glasgow Herald shows that Clydebridge didn’t just suffer from downturns in the present day.
An article dated October 29, 1912, read: “We understand that proposals have been made lately to reopen Clydebridge Steel Works, which under an agreement with the Scotch Steelmasters Association were closed about five years ago when the trade was in a depressed state and have not since been in operation.
“A number of shipbuilders are associated with a scheme for restarting the works.”
In its heyday in the 1970s the factory is believed to have employed around 3,000 workers. The plant then consisted of melting shops, preheaters, slabbing mill, pusher furnaces, four-high plate mill, heat treatment, shot blasting and a priming plant.
Giant of the waves The Lusitania under construction