Glenkinglass

SOCIETY OF ANTIQUARIES OF SCOTLAND, 1984 p438 LEWIS! THE CHARCOAL-FIRED BLAST FURNACES OF SCOTLAND! A REVIEW
There was a forge at Culnakyle but for castings the York Buildings Company often had to
turn to Invergarry and Glenkinglass. This latter furnace, which is well documented by Lindsay (1977, 56-7), was probably founded in 1722 although four partners from the company's early days - Captain Arthur Galbraith, Roger Murphey, William Kettlewell and Charles Armstrong - who were all Irish, did not come together in business until 1725. The local landowner, Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochnell, had been involved in timber deals with Murphey and Galbraith as early as 1720 (SRO 1730) when the Irishmen must have noticed the potential for industry in such a well wooded and reasonably accessible area (illus 7).
Although Glenkinglass was a long way from a road suitable for freight transport, it was
within easy reach of the coast (illus 7). Haematite from Cumbria and bog ore from Jura and Islay were brought by sea and up Loch Etive to the pier at Ardmaddy (Murray 1740, 12). Even the Falls of Lora at Connel could be negotiated by shallow draughted barges at low tide. Charcoal came from as far away as Glenorchy and possibly from Glen Creran where the vestiges of charcoal stances are still visible (RCAMS 1974. 281); again a coastal route was used for some of this traffic. Ironmaking at Glenkinglass does not seem to have continued beyond 1738, the closure of the furnace perhaps being due to several factors. Amongst these may have been the drought of the early 1730s, but the major single cause of failure was probably the economic slump of 1737-8 which resulted in a temporary set back in the iron industry throughout the country but which was particularly felt by those works far removed from the main English markets. Some of the more established concerns were able to weather the storm but Glenkinglass did not survive for long after the depression. Towards the end of its life the company had several new partners from varied backgrounds, some of whom seemed to take little active interest in iron-making. This situation led to discontent, particularly on Galbraith's part, and it must be wondered whether a more sympathetic partnership could not have continued beyond 1738.
As it was, no more iron is thought to have been made in the Highlands until 1753, when the Lorn furnace at Bonawe was built by Richard Ford and Company, a small Cumbrian firm that, as the 'Newland Company', was to become the biggest iron-making concern in the north-west of England. The situation of Bonawe furnace was similar in most respects to that of Glenkinglass, yet the English company managed to continue operating until 1876. It could be argued that the political situation in the Highlands was more stable after the defeat of the Jacobite uprising at Culloden in 1746, but the lands of Glenkinglass were held by the Campbells who had long been loyal to the Hanoverians. It is possible, then, that if the Glenkinglass partnership had been less prone to squabbling it could have survived through the unfavourable economic climate of 1737-8 and continued for many years. As it was, its role was gratefully taken over by the Lorn Furnace Company who negotiated timber contacts with Campbell of Lochnell for the unusually long period of 110 years (Lindsay 1977, 60). As well as the long term agreement with Lochnell, the company undertook shorter contracts with other local landowners, taking in woods some considerable distance from Bonawe. Distance, however, was not a major problem for the heavily indented coastline of Argyll gave shipping easy access to large areas of woodland.

Lindsay, J M 1977 The iron industry in the Highlands: Charcoal blast furnaces', Scot Hist Rev, 56,1
(1977), 49-63.

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