The Garnkirk Fire Clay Company

THE GARNKIRK FIRE CLAY COMPANY, Garnkirk Works, near Glasgow.

    The founder of this the largest concern of the kind in Glasgow or for many miles round commenced business some sixty years ago. The Company engages extensively in the manufacture of fire bricks and blocks for the highest heats, for iron blast furnaces ; forge, rolling, puddling, and steel furnaces ; flint and bottle glass furnaces ; pottery, copper calcining, roasting and refining furnaces ; chemical works, coke ovens, locomotive bricks, gas retorts, flue covers, ornamental chimney cans, vases, figures, fountains, and every description of terra-cotta work. For the whole of the long period during which the Garnkirk fire clay has been known throughout the world its supply has been inexhaustible. This clay differs from that from which other Scotch fire clay goods are made in being comparatively free from iron, the presence of which in quantity is not only dangerous as a flux but wasteful, as owing to its power as a conductor it causes great heat radiation.

    The Garnkirk Works, which cover an area of thirty-five acres, are situate, in near proximity to the Caledonian Railway system, at a distance of about six miles from Glasgow. The Company was originally formed for the purpose of working coal, but, finding that extensive beds of fire clay existed on their property, the Company took to manufacturing that material which now almost exclusively engages their attention. The principal seam of clay is seven feet in thickness, and lies at an average depth of twenty-eight fathoms. Its quality is considered by competent connoisseurs to be equal to that of the very best of the Stourbridge clays. The works of the Company are intersected by branch railway lines, between three and four hundred men and boys are employed. The clay is of a dark colour, owing to the presence of a small proportion of carbonaceous matter, but which is expelled by the action of fire, silica and alumina only remaining, and it is the presence of these substances in certain proportions that decides the value of the clay. As it comes from the pits the clay is entirely devoid of cohesion or plasticity ; and, in order to bring it into working condition, it has to be ground and then mixed with water. Several powerful mills are used for this purpose. They consist of great iron rollers which travel round a circular trough and pass over the clay.

    The Garnkirk Company do not work in common clay, but they have an extensive trade in the manufacture of glazed fire clay sewage and water pipes. The terra-cotta work of the Company is unsurpassed by that of any other enterprise of the kind in the Kingdom. Terra-cotta is an Italian term signifying baked clay, but it is commonly employed to designate such articles formed of clay as are used in architectural embellishments. It is, if properly made, one of the most durable materials that can be used in building, and was so employed by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. The articles made at Garnkirk Works in terra-cotta are chiefly statues, fountains, vases, brackets, pedestals, and chimney pots.

    There are many indications that the developments of this great concern will be continuous. All who have used the various productions of the Garnkirk Fire Clay Company pronounce them in every respect unequalled in the market, and the judicious and, withal, enterprising policy pursued by the Company in the management of the business encourages the belief that the achievements of the house in the past are but antecedent to the attainment of still higher future ends in the industry, so admirably illustrated at Garnkirk Fire Clay Works, and at the extremely commodious offices and showrooms of the Company at the corner of Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street, and at the fire brick depot at the head of Glebe Street, St. Rollox, Glasgow.

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