The opening of George Bennie & Co.'s foundry, 1860
type: Technology - innovations
The opening of George Bennie & Co.'s foundry
Perhaps there is no city in the kingdom the commercial enterprise of which has been so rapidly developed as that of Glasgow. We do not require to go back a century for the purpose of inviting the manes of our tobacco lords and rum princes to survey in astonishment the city of their posterity. Even the "oldest inhabitant," although he may be able to spin many strange yarns to our wondering youngsters, is not required as a witness in this case. The man whom you meet at every corner can tell you of the almost miraculous changes which coal, water, iron, and energy have wrought upon Glasgow, and even young men can point with the gravity of patriarchs to districts, which they remember to have been composed of flowery fields and meadows, sacred to the worship of Ceres and Flora, but which are now covered with ship-building yards and iron foundries, with clouds of smoky incense arising to the smithy god Vulcan,
One of these foundries, on an extensive scale, has just been opened in Great Wellington Street, Paisley Road. We do not intend it to be understood that this establishment possesses features of a character so remarkable that it may be set down as one of the lion of the city. The district in which it is situated is filled with works of considerable magnitude, which could scarcely find room in any other quarter. But the foundry of Messrs. George Bennie & Co. is an important addition to their number, and possesses facilities, especially for turning out large and heavy castings, which are very rarely to be found. Mr. Bennie expects to turn out castings weighing from one to 50 tons. The premises occupy fully an acre of ground; and the shop for heavy castings measures 150 feet by 50, giving an almost unexampled working area. The works are driven by a 20 horse-power engine, an exceedingly neat piece of mechanism, from the Eglinton Engine Works. In the heavy castings shop one furnace has already been erected, and is now in operation; it is built to contain 10 tons of metal, and another is in process which is expected to contain 15 tons. In this shop there are also four very large stoves for drying the moulds previous to casting.
We had the pleasure of witnessing the filling of a few moulds, on a recent visit to the premises. The blast was communicated by Russel's improved fans, the speed of which comes up to 1500 revolutions per minute; and these fans possess this very great advantage, that they make little more noise than the humming of a hive of bees, pleasantly com- paring with the very great din which is created by the usual appliances. The method by which the blast is supplied was also on an improved principle, the air being admitted by a single pipe casing of plates, which proceeds like a band round the furnace and plays upon the fire at three points with great force. In a comparatively brief period, surprising to a stranger, the molten iron began to run from the furnace at a glowing white heat, and with a stream so continuous that the workmen were scarcely able to carry it away cleverly enough. At one end of this room or shop, there has been erected a very powerful crane, the beams of which are constructed of solid oak and which will raise 25 tons, and a second is to be erected at the other end of the shop expected to lift 30 tons. This shop communicates with the yard by two massive gates, and in the yard there is to be placed a third crane, sufficient to lift 15 tons, to assist in clearing the heavy casts from the shop, and getting them upon the waggons.
Every improvement, indeed, which the long practical experience of Mr. George Bennie could have suggested has been applied to the new work George is the son of Mr. James Bennie of the Caledonian Foundry, and is commencing business in the establishment which we have been describing. We trust that his experience and assiduity will give success to his new undertaking.
The Glasgow Herald, 8th March 1860