Forging ahead with show on Gartcosh steel

Gartcosh British Steel Corporation houses
Gartcosh British Steel Corporation houses

THE rich history of Gartcosh’s steel industry can be mined at a special exhibition over the coming weeks.

A display is being hosted at Summerlee Heritage Park, Coatbridge – featuring photographs, memorabilia and other artefacts from the very early existence of a steel works in the 1860s to its closure in the 1980s.

‘A Brief History of Gartcosh Steel Works’ tells the story of how the industry developed locally and grew to become a massive influence on the area and the people who lived and worked there.

A spokesperson for the organiser, Gartcosh Local History Group, said: “Following on from the hugely-successful 2010 exhibition in Gartcosh it was decided to dedicate an exhibition solely to the history of the steel works and its impact on the village.

“As a well-respected centre specialising in the industrial and social history of the Monklands area, Summerlee was the natural choice for the location.”

The exhibition will be on show in a glass cabinet until November 6. Summerlee is open Mondays-Sundays, 10am-5pm, and entry is free.

Woodneuk Iron Works was built in 1865, but two years later was taken over and renamed Gartcosh Iron and Steel Company.

Within five years it was taken over again by well-regarded steeel makers Smith and McLean and, after a few false starts, the Gartcosh works forged ahead and became a success.

During the late 1890s and early 1900s Smith & McLean provided new brick-built houses for their workers on Lochend Road and nearby plots.

Gartcosh steel works eventually passed into the ownership of Colvilles Ltd, who opened a cold-reduction steel strip mill at Gartcosh in 1963, in conjunction with their larger operation at Ravenscraig, near Motherwell.

Despite a strongly-fought campaign to save it, Gartcosh Strip Mill was eventually closed by the British Steel Corporation in 1986.

By that point the former Smith & McLean houses in Lochend Road had already gone, replaced by a new housing development.

* Gartcosh Local History Group is appealing for anyone with memories of the area to share them. They may even be able to help you trace a former relative from Gartcosh. You can e-mail gartcoshhistory@googlemail.com or leave details at the Summerlee reception. Alternatively visit www.gartcoshlocalhistory.com