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Calderbank (on the bank of the Calder - a hard running water)

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The village lies south of Airdrie on the opposite side of the North Calder Water from Chapelhall. It was once a prosperous industrial village with a population of almost 3,500 in the middle of the last century. Calderbank revolved around the Iron & Steel industry.  

In 1797, three years after the Monkland Canal had been completed,  The Calderbank Iron Company was set up by an enterprising group of ironmasters to take advantage of the Calder river and the nearby Monklands Canal.  In the 1800's the company was taken over by the Monklands Steel Company who later made the hull plates for the Vulcan - the first iron hulled passenger boat built in Scotland.  The vulcan was constructed at nearb y Faskine on the banks of the canal and launched into it in 1819. A fill scale replica of the vulcan was restructured as the centrepiece of the display at the Garden festival in 1988. It was then transferred to the Summerlee heritage Park where it is now on display. 

  The Monklands Steel Company started producing pig iron.    Puddling furnaces were set up in the 1830's  to meet the demand for malleable iron for the rail tracks for the railway expansion.  By 1841 the village had over 1000 residents.   At that time the works specialised in the production of malleable iron, installing over 60 puddling furnaces, making it, the largest malleable iron works in Scotland. Iron rails and iron plate were exported. 

Artist's impression of Monklands Iron & Steel Works C1860
Courtesy of Alistair Ewen - North Calder Heritage Trail Officer

As was the case all over Lanarkshire,  Iron working needs coal - so the local coal industry expanded in tandem. The furnaces exhausted local supplies quickly and by the early 1870's the company was working some 30 pits.  As the iron industry died the steel industry took over.

In 1887 the works closed down and then re-opened as the first purpose built steel works in Scotland. For 30 years it smelted and rolled steel for the shipbuilding on the Clyde. Steel ship plates for the Queen Mary and the Cunard Line came from Calderbank.

In 1930 the Iron industry in Scotland was re-organized and the works was closed and scrapped. Although the impact on the village was terrific the village has lived on and its inhabitants remain proud of their industrial past.

After the works closed most of the company housing was destroyed, such was the poor quality of the housing, and was replaced with the modern housing you can see today. Only Calderbank Primary School, the Church and several sandstone houses on Main Street remain from the time it was a company village.

See North Calder Heritage Trail

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