Archives of William Baird & Co of Gartsherrie, ironmasters

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Minute books; Land and property records; Legal documents; Maps and plans; Day books; Financial records; Production and sales records; Staff time books; Transport records; Records of miscellaneous organisations

Administrative / Biographical History

The Baird family is recorded as having owned land in Lanarkshire as far back as the 13th century. However, by the 18th and 19th centuries, the Gartsherrie Bairds were tenant farmers at High Cross and Kirkwood in the Parish of Old Monkland. Having initially managed collieries at Rochsolloch and Merryston, William Baird and Sons leased the Gartsherrie coalfield in Airdrie in 1826 and built ironworks there in 1828. They supplied pig iron and coke to the iron and steel industry for blast furnace and foundry purposes. By the mid 1860s Bairds produced 25% of Scotland's output of pig iron, with the capacity to produce 300,000 tons of pig iron per year, and employed 10,000 men and boys. Bairds was probably the largest single producer of pig iron in the world at that time. The company operated blast furnaces at Gartsherrie, coke ovens at Kilsyth, Stirlingshire and Bedlay, Lanarkshire and collieries at Bothwell and Bedlay in Lanarkshire, Kilsyth, and Bathgate, West Lothian. They also owned cement works at Gartsherrie and brickworks at Gartshore, Dunbartonshire. Most of the records relate to Gartsherrie Works but Bairds also operated ironworks at Muirkirk and Eglinton in Ayrshire. Their products were shipped from Glasgow, Ardrossan and Grangemouth. Bairds later became part of the Scottish Iron & Steel Co and of Bairds and Scottish Steel Ltd. A history of the family and of the early days of the Company was published in 1875, 'The Bairds of Gartsherrie: some notices of their origin and history'. An illustrated catalogue of their products was published in the 1930s. A Strathclyde PhD Thesis 'William Baird and company, coal and iron masters, 1830-1914' was written in 1974. In 1946, with the ongoing threat of nationalisation of the coal and iron industries, William Baird diversified into household goods and textiles.

Conditions Governing Access

Open

Archivist's Note

Archivist's note: Description prepared by Margaret Harrison, Web version by Graham S. Holton, Jordanhill LibraryRules or Conventions: Description based on Scottish Archive Network guidelines, based on ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000). and Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997)Date of descriptions: February 2008.

Related Material

William Baird & Co archives in North Lanarkshire Archives

GB 248 Baird Collection in Glasgow University Archives