Features


R. B. Tennant

Extract from Andrew Miller's Rise and Progress of Coatbridge c1864

Tennant's Foundry is situated at the bottom of Buchanan Street. The enterprising lessee, Mr Robert Tennant, has recently expended upwards of �1000 in extending and re-building the same, in order to enable him to meet the demand for heavier castings in machinery and other goods of a like description.

This foundry was formerly known as Smellie's engineering establishment. There are also several extensive woodyards in the town, which have saw mills attached. The respective proprietors are Mr William Waddel, Messrs Allan & James Waddell, Mr John Hill, and Mr John Murray, who give employment to a considerable number of men, in building houses, railway waggons, bridges, piers, &c. Their enterprising spirit leads them to accept of contracts in these branches in nearly every part of the country, and their career in this respect has hitherto been very successful.

 At Sunnyside Messrs Tudhope and Gray have erected a bolt and rivet manufactory; these works, when fully started, will be able to produce about ten tons of the manufactured article daily.

Founded by a long established local family, R. B. Tennent & Co. opened their Whiffiet Foundry, near Coatbridge, in 1857 for roll making.

Starting on a small scale they quickly grew to become the largest roll making unit in Britain. At its height the Whifflet Foundry produced 40% of the chilled cast iron rolls and 60% of the cast steel rolls manufactured in the United Kingdom. Their steel rolls were also the largest to be made in the country and were marketed world-wide.  Until 1915 they manufactured complete rolling mills.

 In 1942 the company became a leading partner in the British Rollmakers Corporation.

In the early seventies there was a big explosion in the Meadow Work Casting Bay when 3 men died. A water pipe which cooled the mould whilst it was being cast burst and water got into the molten metal causing the explosion.

The Whiffiet Foundry was closed down in 1995, although the adjacent Meadow Works (also owned by British Rollmakers) remain in operation.

Photos by William Willis and Arthur Pairman



Circa year 1992 - Taken in the last days of the Whifflet plant.
BACK ROW -Derek Hamilton, Ben Sloan, Jim Gray, Jim Rankin, Andy Austin, Andy McNay, John Hughes.
FRONT ROW Yom McKee, Davd McDonald, Ian Ferguson, John Nesbit, Arthur Pairman, Steven Spiers.
Photo Supplied by Arthur Pairman.

The team from the Machine Shop in the Whifflet c1990 - do you recognise anyone? Have you a photo to add to this gallery?
 Photo supplied by Arthur Pairman

Group with Billy McPate on left

Staff at RB Tennent

"Billy Stott"-  Foreman in RB Tennents  in the 60,s check the suit out! Thats how the foremen went to work in those days. See close up below!Photo supplied by Craig, Jim and Norrie Stott

I am Norman ( Norrie ) Stott, born and bred in Coatbridge, done my time as a Fitter from 1975 - 79 in good old Lambertons, best 4 years of my life.  Now I have attached a photo from my Father, William ( BILLY ) Stott he was a foreman by R.B Tennants, I and my family would be deeply grateful and thrilled too bits if you could publish the photo, by the R:B Tennants page.

Its a pleasure Norrie - Many thanks - John

RB Tennent entrance at Whifflet St which housed the main Machine Shop


.Electric Arc Furnace melts the metal

Electric Arc Furnace is actually built on hydraulics which makes it tilt and so lets the metal pour out into the ladle.  The ladle is being suspended by cranes which can lift up to 100 tonnes.


The rolls are cast into moulds and then as we can see here, they are coming out of hot ovens. This is a process of heat-treatment which gives the rolls the correct hardness.

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The rolls are left to cool and are then sent to the Machine Shop where they are cut to specification on lathes. This one looks just about ready. Note the metal shavings on the floor.


Another roll almost ready for shipment. These rolls can weigh from 10 tonne to 100 tonne


A Sentinel Loco at the Foundry

RB Tennent factory before demolition photo courtesy of Reigart


After demolition - ready for B&Q?
photo courtesy of Reigart

More photos of the RB Tennent factories below:

Whifflet Works

Whifflet Works

Meadow Works

Meadow Works

Delight for Monklands Olympic torch duo
Coatbridge cricket official and former RB Tennent manager Billy McPate carried the iconic torch Billy McPate, right was an Olympic torch bearer as was Scott Lamond.

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