Clydebridge Steelworks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

External view of largest existing building, 2016

The Clydebridge Steelworks, also known as Clydebridge Works, is a steel works in South Lanarkshire, Scotland.

The plant opened in 1877. The works made steel sheared plates to build ships (among other uses) - plates from Clydebridge were used in many famous vessels such as the ocean liners of the Cunard Line (Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary and QE2).[1]

Steel manufacture at the site ended in 1978; the site had manufactured steel with an open hearth furnace, the type of melting shops that British Steel wanted to discontinue. In the mid-1970s, it employed around 3,500.[2] The plate mill at Clydebridge plate works rolled its last plate on 12 November 1982. The M74 motorway now runs through the works site adjacent to the remaining buildings.

As of 2016, it is currently owned by Liberty House Group and employs 45 workers in its heat treatment and quenching facilities.[3] In late 2017, it appeared the future of the Clydebridge and Dalzell sites was again uncertain when Liberty offered redundancy packages to its workforce,[4] but a few months later, Liberty Group owner Sanjeev Gupta announced a further "£1bn investment in Scotland"[5] under his Greensteel production strategy.[6]

History[edit]

  • 1887 – Clydebridge Steel Company opens as an independent private firm, managed by Walter and Hugh Neilson who are members of a family of Scottish ironmasters.[7]
  • 1907 - Closes due to an economic downturn.[8]
  • 1915 - Taken over by Colvilles to provide steel for World War I materials.
  • 1917 – King George V visits; works double in size.[9]
  • 1920 - Clydebridge has 2000 employees.
  • 1923 – A new plate mill is installed, among many other improvements making the works one of the most modern and efficient of the time.
  • 1928 – The Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) visits.
  • 1932 – The firm survives the Great Depression but output drops by up to half and staff numbers dip to their lowest at 507.
  • 1938 – King George VI visits.
  • 1939 – Clydebridge is linked to the Clyde Iron Works, becoming one of the largest integrated steelworks (producing both the hot metal and the finished steel) in the UK; a gas pipeline and railway bridge is constructed over the River Clyde which separated the two plants.[10]
  • 1951 – Works are nationalised as part of the Iron and Steel Corporation of Great Britain, this lasts until 1955 then ownership reverts to Colvilles.
  • 1959 - Colvilles' new steelworks at Ravenscraig in Motherwell is completed.
  • 1962 – Installation of 4-High Plate Mill and Heat Treatment & Quenching Plant sees works reach their maximum size.
  • 1967 – Works again nationalised as part of British Steel Corporation.
  • 1974 – Clydebridge has 2410 employees.
  • 1977 - Clyde Iron Works and the Clydebridge melting shops (which had produced 20 million tonnes of steel in the preceding 90 years) closes, with hundreds of job losses.
  • 1980 - Clydebridge workers (now numbering 800) take part in the steel strike from January to April.[11]
  • 1982 – The Plate Mill and Light Shearline are closed, making more unemployed - just 150 remain in a vastly downscaled operation.
  • 1988 – British Steel is privatised; Clydebridge has 100 workers.
  • 1999 – British Steel becomes Corus after a merger with Koninklijke Hoogovens, becoming the largest steel company in Europe. However at Clydebridge only a handful of workers remain going into the 21st century.
  • 2006 – Tata Steel acquires Corus and renames it Tata Steel Europe
  • 2011 – the M74 motorway extension through the site is completed.
  • 2016 – Following a mothballing of the plant the previous year,[12] Liberty House Group purchases Clydebridge (along with sister site Dalzell Works, the former Colville plant in Motherwell)[13][14] with the promise of new life for the works through diversification of its products including the production of wind turbines.[15][16]

Geography[edit]

The secure site occupies a large parcel of land which is on a meander of the River Clyde, between the towns of Rutherglen and Cambuslang. The southern boundary is the Whifflet Line railway tracks (between Rutherglen and Carmyle). During the peak of activity at the works, several branches linked from the main lines into Clydebridge and to the Clyde Iron Works on the opposite bank of the river.

The works are approached via an access road under the railway at the southern side of the site (Bogleshole Road), near to Eastfield. Another vehicle entrance with a weighbridge at the west side of the site leading onto Cambuslang Road near Farme Cross is currently not in use – an asphalt concrete coating plant (Tillicountry Quarries Clydebridge) is located there.[17] In the 2010s, the vicinity of this entrance consisted of several large warehouses, some of which were subsequently vacated and demolished in anticipation of the construction of a new retail development adjacent to the motorway junction. The project, named Two74,[18][19] has faced delays in its planning process.[20]

view looking south-east from the spoil mound over motorway and works buildings

The initial Clydebridge plant from 1887 was located in the south east of the territory directly beside the main line railway bridge. This site was chosen as it offered access to the railway, a source of water for cooling processes, a potential link to the river for transportation, had spare ground for waste products and future expansions, and was very close to the existing iron works producing the raw metal, and also near to numerous local collieries who provided the fuel for the furnaces. From around 1902 until 1962, trams and thereafter trolleybuses and buses also ran close to the works along Cambuslang Road in Rutherglen and along London Road (A74) to Auchenshuggle in eastern Glasgow, offering a public transport option for employees.

Following the Colvilles acquisition in 1915 the premises were upgraded, with new facilities further west directly alongside the railway. Additions were made to the works throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s and another enlargement in the 1960s saw new buildings constructed to the north of the older workings.

With much of the obsolete works having been removed in the late 20th century, the most prominent of the remaining structures is the blue-coloured industrial shed housing the 4 high plate rolling mill and shears bay - at 330m in length, 100m wide and 20m high, it is one of the largest structures in post-industrial Glasgow (Clydebridge is only around 3 miles from the city centre). The downscaled facility nowadays stands amidst an extensive area of brownfield woodland and scrub which conceals the railway sidings, industrial waste and debris of the demolished elements of the works.

Spoil Mound[edit]

View across the river Clyde of the site of Auchenshuggle Bridge in 2008 - the buildings of Clydebridge are behind the trees on the left and the spoil mound can be seen rising on the right

The rubble of the older buildings was added to the spoil heap located in the north of the site bounded by the river Clyde. This large mound – around the same height as the plate mill shed - no longer serves any practical purpose following the closure of the ironworks and the downscaling of the steelworks, and has since been reclaimed by nature. It is possible to walk to the summit, which offers fine panoramic views over the south-east of Greater Glasgow, particularly Rutherglen and Braidfauld.

Since 2010 the mound has been separated from the rest of the works by the final section of the M74 motorway which runs through the middle of the site and is connected to the older section of the road by the Auchenshuggle Bridge over the Clyde. A footbridge under the motorway on the north bank of the river allows the Clyde Walkway and National Cycle Route 75 to continue, and a similar footbridge on the south bank connects the Clydebridge works to the mound area – a feasibility study was conducted in 2015 on creating a cycling and walking route which would run from Cambuslang to Farme Cross via this footbridge and past the mound, either adjacent to the river or to the motorway.[21]

Another proposal for the area involved the site of Hamilton Farm (across the railway tracks from the steelworks), which attracted the attention of Scottish Cycling in 2015.[22] In the 21st century, several modern distribution centres have been constructed in the vicinity to take advantage of the convenient location for the motorway. Previously in 1992 Celtic F.C. had released details of a plan to build a modern stadium on the site. However this never materialised and the club redeveloped their existing facilities instead.[23]

Clydebridge viaduct from west bank

Clydebridge Viaduct[edit]

The railway bridge over the river (known initially as Hamilton Farm Viaduct after the original farm nearby, but also referred to as Clydebridge Viaduct once that name became well known) was already in place prior to the establishment of the steel works - it was built as part of the Rutherglen and Coatbridge Railway, with the line completed in 1865.[24][25] The bridge also incorporates a catwalk and water pipe on its south side, added during the period between the 1890s and 1930s when there were large industrial facilities on both sides of the river but no other crossing point for pedestrians (the closest alternative was Cambuslang Bridge over half a mile to the south of the viaduct).

Bogleshole Road Bridge from west bank

Bogleshole Road Bridge[edit]

A road bridge was constructed to the south of the railway bridge in 1986, connecting Rutherglen directly to the motorway and Carmyle - previously, road traffic between these areas would need to go via Dalmarnock and London Road, or via the older bridge in Cambuslang (albeit a replacement for this had already been opened in 1976). Bogleshole Bridge was built near the site of an ancient ford of the same name across the river,[26] and this was named after the Bogle family who owned much of the land on both banks of the river, from Hamilton Farm up to Daldowie estate.



References[edit]

  1. ^ "Steel Industry". Education Scotland. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Inside Cambuslang's Clydebridge steelworks". Daily Record / Rutherglen Reformer. 11 May 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  3. ^ "Axe falls on Clydebridge steelworks". Daily Record / Rutherglen Reformer. 21 October 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Jobs blow: Cambuslang steel works calling for redundancies". Daily Record. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Steel chief Sanjeev Gupta plans £1bn investment in Scotland". The National. 14 March 2018. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  6. ^ "GREENSTEEL: A brighter future for UK Steel". www.libertyhousegroup.com. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  7. ^ "Clydebridge Works". Grace's Guide to British Industrial History. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Developments and Events". Clydebridge Steel Works History (Colin Findlay). Archived from the original on 22 July 2018. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  9. ^ "Brief History". Clydebridge Steel Works History (Colin Findlay). Archived from the original on 22 July 2018. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  10. ^ "Scottish steel, a lesson from history?". Bella Caledonia. 8 November 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  11. ^ "'On This Day': 1980 Steel Strike". BBC News. 2 January 1980. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  12. ^ "Tata Steel confirms 270 job losses at two plants in Scotland". STV Group (Scotland). 20 October 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  13. ^ "Tata Scottish steel works rescued by Liberty House". The Guardian. 24 March 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  14. ^ "Deal done to sell two Tata Steel mills in Scotland". BBC News. 24 March 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  15. ^ "Liberty begins recruitment drive for Scottish mills". Liberty House Group. 9 June 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  16. ^ "Dalzell and Clydebridge steel plants to make metal for wind turbine towers". BBC News. 16 June 2016. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Locations: Clydebridge". Tillicoultry Quarries. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  18. ^ "Two 74". Ashfield Land. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  19. ^ "Green light for £15m mixed use development in South Lanarkshire". Scottish Construction Now. 17 February 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  20. ^ "Rutherglen's Two74 project faces delay". Daily Record / Rutherglen Reformer. 15 September 2016. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  21. ^ "Proposed New Cycle Route Revealed". Daily Record / Rutherglen Reformer. 10 December 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  22. ^ "Plans To Create National Cycling Centre In Cambuslang". Daily Record / Rutherglen Reformer. 8 January 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  23. ^ "Former Celtic director says the club's proposed move to Cambuslang 25 years ago would have benefitted town". Daily Record / Rutherglen Reformer. 14 April 2017. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Clydebridge Viaduct". Railscot. Retrieved 7 November 2016. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  25. ^ "Record and images for Hamilton Farm Viaduct". Canmore.org. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  26. ^ "Record and images for Bogleshole Road Bridge". Canmore.org. Retrieved 10 November 2016.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 55°49′55″N 4°11′08″W / 55.832055°N 4.18552°W / 55.832055; -4.18552