Greenfield Foundry Part 3 of 4

Continued from parts 1 and 2 yesterday

Late on the evening of Monday 6th May 1895, a sinister and indecent outrage was committed on the Blantyre on the wife of James Rankin, of Baird’s Rows, Stonefield, while she returned homewards from Hamilton. The woman stated that while she was nearing Greenfield Foundry, some men who would not let her pass blocked her path. She was then verbally and physically attacked by a number of men near the gates, and in an endeavour to escape she crossed into the field opposite, running at a pace near the Parkburn where she was caught up on, and in the darkness overtaken, thrown on the ground, her mouth stuffed, her body kicked and beaten, and finally assaulted in the most brutal and shocking manner for any woman. Her assailants then left her where she lay. The woman was found some time afterwards completely exhausted, and was taken in a state of shock to her home. Dr Sinclair declared her injuries to be of most brutal description and confined her to bed. The police lost no time in getting clues together interrogating men in the foundry, and leaving her bed the next morning escorted by police in the most brave action, the woman pointed out the men face to face in their own workplace. Five young men, all-living in Hamilton were apprehended in connection with the outrage and taken to the jail.

1890s sketch foundry

Greenfield Foundry was not without further crimes and accidents. John Mullen of 4 Low Blantyre Road, Greenfield had the contract with the foundry to go out and cut the surrounding grass parks, keeping the railway verges clear of hay and weeds. On Saturday 25th August 1895, whilst working next to the line, a momentary lapse of concentration was fatal as a locomotive buffer struck his head; the wheels severing his arm clean off. The train did not stop for some time, despite efforts from the driver. Unmarried, the Irish immigrant was taken back to Ireland for burial.

By 1895, the valuation roll shows the 24 foundry square homes still mostly all occupied, but not always by foundry workers. By then, miners and labourers of the nearby Greenfield Colliery were mostly renting them. That year the occupants were 1 George Webster, 2 William Henry, 3 John Buchanan, 4 Empty, 5 William Murray, 6 Robert McNeil, 7 George Hutchison, 8 David Morrison, 9 John Smith, 10 George Lauder, 11 James Hamilton, 12 Thomas Stevens, 13 James Hutchison, 14 James Rodger, 15 Archibald Frew, 16 John Lamont, 17 Neil McNeil, 18 Alexander McDonald, 19 Andrew Haddell, 20 Robert Hunter, 21 John Milligan, 22 Henry Sneddon, 23 Alexander Matthews and 24 Charles Smith.

On 20th May 1896, Andrew Kesson, one of the owners retired. The partnership was dissolved that day, but the Greenfield Foundry carried on with partner Duncan Campbell forming an emreging new partnership with Robert Bayne Jardine Binnie, along with subscriber Samuel Potts. For a short time, they continued however as “Kesson & Campbell”, the name well known.

By 1898, no less than five large cranes adorned the yards outside. A loading platform and siding had also been constructed near the North British Railway spur to the south of the site.

One can only presume at the difficult and hot working conditions inside the foundry. It would have been a dangerous place, especially in those times before proper health and safety. Scaulding hot steam, fumes, and chemicals, sharp metal and faulty equipment would have contributed towards many minor accidents. A notable fatality occurred in 1898 when on Wedensday 21st September; 28-year-old James Farrell lost his life. He had been on duty to attend to the furnace and around 11am, a box of molten metal was sent up to him. Everybody left for lunch and noticed James wasn’t there. Upon searching he was found overcome by fumes, his body slumped over and into the carriage, his lifeless head completely submerged in the liquefied metal. Doctors Forbes and Lees arrived but their efforts to revive were not needed.

Later in 1900, in an effort to rebrand the foundry, the venture partners removed the name Kesson with permission from “Kesson & Campbell” and made their partnership more permanent renaming the business, “Campbell, Binnie & Co.” The owners added to the former name of Greenfield Foundry and it became “Greenfield Foundry & Engineering Works.”

Campbell, Binnie & Co were makers of the Globe Patent Double-Acting SteamPump, allegedly the best pump in the market for Distilleries, Brewers, Chemical Works, Contractors, &c. Makers of Lockwoods Patent Oscillating Furnace Bars, and General Ironfounders, Engineers, Millwrights, Machine-Makers and Smiths.

On Thursday 9th March 1900, an explosion at the foundry severely injured five workers. A barrel containing 8 gallons of naphtha burst and exploded covering the men in the flammable liquid. The injured were John Pollock (41) of 2 Foundry Square, Malcolm Jack (27) of Foundry Square, James Neil (57) watchman of Semple’s Buildings, Springwell, William Crowr (23) clerk of Brandon Street, Hamilton and John Stalker (21) clerk of Greenfield Old Rows.

On Monday 2nd September 1901, a cycling accident happened at Greenfield Foundry, whereby a young man named James Robertson (16), residing with parents M’Alpine’s Buildings, Stonefield, Blantyre, received injuries of a serious nature. Robertson was proceeding towards Hamilton when he ran into another cyclist coming riding in the opposite direction. Both men were thrown heavily to the ground. When picked up Robertson was found to be unconscious, and was carried into the office of the foundry where a doctor attended him. He was then taken home. Dr Wilson, Blantyre, then attended him and ordered his removal to the Royal Infirmary. The other young man was able to proceed home.

On Saturday 10th September 1904, a sad accident is reported to have occurred about half-past one o’clock on the railway bridge near Greenfield Foundry. It seems that three boys, two of them brothers named Dunn, aged ten and seven years respectively, residing in Johnstone Street, Hamilton, and another boy called Brownlie, had gone Cambuslang with a vanman bringing milk from that place to Hamilton. On the way back the vanman stopped at his father’s house at Springwell, and placing feeding bag on his horse’s head went inside, leaving the boys in the van. It supposed that the horse must have tramped on tho feeding bag and drew off its blinders and bolted. It ran along the footpath until opposite the foundry, where the van capsized down the embankment. Brownlie had jumped off, but the Dunns were both thrown underneath. A passing motorcar to Blantyre conveyed the younger boy to his home, where, on examination by Dr Walker, it was found life was extinct. The elder brother was unhurt.

1910 Greenfield foundry map

From the book, “Blantyre Glasgow Road – The Real Story” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017

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