The archive comprises: Gartsherrie Works letter books, assorted maps and several series of other papers relating to Gartsherrie Ironworks, property, mining, farms, works' schools, elections, transport, the Baird family, and other local matters.
CLD - Tab 2
George Baird, James Baird, William Baird, Alexander Whitelaw, William Weir, David Wallace, William Jardine
Gartsherrie, North Lanarkshire
Times/Periods associated with the collection:
January 1817 - January 1960
Extent (i.e. approx number of items):
Collection Highlights/Star Items:
Alexander Baird was a tenant farmer in Old Monkland who in the early 19th century expanded his interests into operating coal mines, aided by his sons. In 1828, they obtained some land at Gartsherrie, near Coatbridge, for the purpose of building a pig iron manufacturing works. In 1830, five of the sons, William, Alexander, James, Douglas and George formally created the partnership William Baird & Company, under the nominal leadership of William Baird, the eldest son. Henceforth this partnership ran the Baird's industrial concerns. The same year Gartsherrie Ironworks' first blast furnace commenced production. Employing adept and occasionally ruthless business practices in addition to many of the most innovative iron smelting procedures, Gartsherrie soon became the biggest ironworks in Scotland and a world leader during the middle decades of the 19th century. William Baird & Co expanded throughout the century, operating ironworks, coal mines, iron mines, ore terminals both in Scotland and elsewhere.
In the late 1850s and early 1860s the original members of the partnership died or retired and a new partnership took over the running of the company, all close relatives of the Bairds (Alexander Whitelaw, William Weir and David Wallace). In 1878 a third generation took over the partnership (William Weir, James Baird Thorneycroft, William Laird, Robert Angus, John Alexander and Andrew Kirkwood McCosh).
Immediately after the Companies Act 1907 the company was registered as a private limited company. In 1936, it finally became a public limited company.
The declining state of the Scottish iron and steel industry during the first half of the 20th century necessitated many takeovers and amalgamations. In 1939, William Baird & Co Ltd amalgamated with it main customer (a steelmaking concern) the Scottish Iron & Steel Company, to form Bairds Scottish Steel Ltd in order to be able to compete with Collvilles, the only other remaining Scottish iron and steel making concern. The William Baird & Co Ltd name was retained as a holding company.
The company was nationalised with the rest of the Scottish Coal (1947) and steel (1949) industries only to be denationalised as a steel making concern in 1953.
A programme of modernisation of Gartsherrie Ironworks was commenced in the late 1950s but was scarcely completed when the company abandoned all iron and steel making activities in 1967. William Baird & Co Ltd continued to operate diversified into textile, industrial, investment and mining divisions with interests in over 60 companies in 11 countries.
This collection is open to the public and can be accessed in the search room of North Lanarkshire Council Archives, 10 Kelvin Road, Cumbernauld, G67 2BA, Tel. 01236 638 980. Manual and digital file level lists are available in the search room.