Calderside Cement Works was a former modest sized cement works at Calderside, High Blantyre operating between 1851 and 1889.
In July 1850, Mr. William Young, farmer and owner of Calderside Farm put his farm and all 177 acres of farmland up for sale. Within the advert of 19th July 1850 in the Glasgow Herald, it was noted that a valuable seam of Roman Cement runs through the whole lands, which was ‘presently being wrought by the proprietor’. William McCreath, a mineral engineer had valued it as £1,000, a vast sum in 1850. The advert asked for the attention of dealers in cement noting that a seam so valuable was a rare event. Timber Woodland was valued at £770, which would later be sold in 1854.
The advert appears to have attracted the attention of Mr. George Anderson of Springfield who bought part of the farmlands in the second half of 1850, with the purpose of setting up cement kilns and continuing extracting the minerals. To do this he needed workers, ideally nearby. It’s noted that by November 1850, Calderside Farm at a reduced area of 160 acres was still up for sale, but importantly, by that time no mention of the roman cement seam in the new advert. Those mineral rights and 17 acres of the 177 having been sold for the purposes of the kiln, extraction operations and its associated workers housing. George Anderson would go on in 1851 to negotiate a further sale for all of the remaining Calderside Farm.
Five brick kilns were constructed in 1851 near a bend on the side of Calderside Road. The kilns were used to produce the ash needed to make cement, the Roman Cement itself being made elsewhere. Stone was needed for this process and a small quarry was opened up high above the River Calder at the opposite end of the same field the kilns were built on.
The quarry was small and labouring was made easier by the construction of a light railway to cart the stone around the perimeter of the field, over to the kilns. Workers were housed in a new row of 6 houses nearby called Calderside Row.
In 1859, the kilns located at Calderside, beyond Auchentibber are described as, “Five brick Kilns, on the side of the Parish Road, about 12 feet high & open on the sides, next to the Road. They are used for burning stone to Ashes, which are afterwards ground in mills in Glasgow, for the purpose of producing Roman Cement. The stone used is got by mining. (Mine written on Trace 6, XVII-1). There is a row of dwellings opposite the Cement Kilns which has no name. ” (later became Calderside Row)
George Carrick Anderson of Springfield, Blantyre, owner of the cement works (and also later the farm at Calderside) set up a company in the 1850’s named “George Anderson & Co” which would trade in Roman Cement. The business of “Calderside Colour and Cement Works” was based at 158 Hydepark Street, Glasgow, named after his home area and where the stone was extracted from. Calderside’s Roman Cement was a dark brown colour.
In the 1850’s, Mr Anderson decided to let the cement works be run on his behalf by others. A sublet was sought to manage the cement works. The first manager was Mr Robert Neilson , assisted by John Dick, a kilnman. However, Robert may have been in his own financial difficulties by 1864 and by 1865, the day to day running was fully back in the hands of the company themselves, “George Anderson & Co”.
Life was difficult in this small community. Tragedy struck in 1867 when Sarah Locke or Nimmo, aged 48 took her own life at the cliffs beside Calderside Cement works. She drowned there in April that year after committing suicide. She was described as a weak lady who had married only the December before. At the spot where she was found the water scarcely covered her face.
Following the death of George Anderson in 1872, aged 72, the business was inherited by his 26 year old son, William Anderson and throughout the 1870’s he regularly advertised their product of Roman Cement via agents in local newspapers. He kept his fathers business name of “George Anderson & Co”. By 1873, the employed manager of the Cement works was Mr Joseph Fowler.
End in sight
However, with the rateable value decreasing in line with decreasing production and a sharp incline in competition in Glasgow markets meant the writing was on the cards. Furthermore, development in the 1870’s of rotating horizontal kiln technology brought dramatic changes in properties, pushing the product to be very inexpensive, with small margins and arguably resulting in the pre-cursor to modern cement.
An advert appearing in the Glasgow Herald on 7th May 1888 described Calderside Cement works as ‘still in operation’ but was open for being let to others. Applicants had to apply to J Fowler of Calderside on behalf of William Carrick Anderson.
On Thursday 12th December 1889, at 11am, the Calderside Cement works plant and equipment went up for sale. Up for grabs was the railway and hutch rails, carts and weighing machine, scrap, bellows, anvil and smithy tools. Also being sold pit props, sleepers, harnesses and 160 tonnes of cement. It would appear this was the absolute end for Calderside Cement Works, although William Carrick Anderson continued to live nearby at Calderside Farm until his death in 1913, aged 67.
The 1896 map refers to the kilns and quarry as being “old”, indicating they were not in use anymore.
Today, there is little sign of the 5 brick kilns remaining, although there are stone abutments by the roadside still visible. MacFarlane’s scrapyard now sits where the kilns once were, with homes opposite where Calderside Row once stood.
Also if you climb over two fences you will see a man made waterway guiding the stream towards the cliffs and over to the Calder, this is where some Auchintibber folk (still living) got their drinking water.
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