Report - William Cook & Son, Glasgow File & Saw Works, Dec 2014

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Super Moderator
Staff member
Oct 20, 2005
1816: William Cook senior the founder of the business, born in Harworth, Nottinghamshire.

Originally from a family of Nottinghamshire farmers, William Cook, the great great grandfather of the present Chairman Andrew Cook, walked to Scotland and set up a saw factory in Glasgow in 1840.

It survived a bank failure and in 1883 a small factory was started in Washford Road, Sheffield, making crucible steel castings for collieries. The Glasgow works was handed over to relatives by marriage in the early 20th century and from 1902 William Cook’s two grandsons concentrated their attentions on the Washford Road works. Crucible melting in clay pots over coke fires continued until after World War Two.

In 1950 the first electric furnace was installed and in 1956 the Company, although still very small, floated on the London Stock Exchange. During the next ten years the Company outgrew its old fashioned premises in the Don Valley and between 1968 and 1974 a new works was built on an elevated, more out-of-town, site. This works grew considerably over the following 30 years and today it is one of the group’s four main plants.

Andrew Cook, the present Chairman, took control of the Company in 1981 and began a period of rapid expansion and refocusing on new markets. By 1986 sales exceeded £10 million and, following a series of acquisitions over the next five years, by 1991 they had grown to £120 million. During this period, many famous names in the steel casting industry were taken over by William Cook, including Weir Foundries, George Blair, Lake and Elliott and Lloyds Burton. However, the Company’s stock market listing had become its Achilles heel and in 1996 a hostile takeover bid from a Midlands industrial group threatened the independence and very existence of the Company. After a long battle the bid was finally defeated by Andrew Cook, who took the Company private with venture capital assistance.

In 2002, Andrew Cook began to shrink the group to a more manageable size which would be less vulnerable to market vagaries and over-extended management and in 2004 he bought out the venture capital shareholders. After nearly 50 years, William Cook was again back in family ownership. Since 2006 the group has been debt-free and cash rich, with its activities concentrated on its four main plants in Sheffield, Leeds and Weardale and its market focus on high specification, high-value added components and assemblies where engineering innovation, quality control and efficient, professional manufacturing are more important than mere price.
Turkey Cat and I, along with a non member decided to do something a little different this Christmas. On boxing day we bundled into Turk's shiny new motor and headed up to Glasgow. It was never going to be a ground-breaking exploring trip, just a casual mooch around some well known sites, some picture taking and a heavy night out on the town.

After said heavy night in "Propoganda", where we danced like dick heads to the music of our youth, we headed for the traditional Mc Donald's breakfast. As we pulled in the car park, I noticed we were next to a fabulous looking works, complete with iron windows, a ghost advert, and most importantly a boarded up door. I went to investigate whilst food was purchased.

I really didn't expect what we found. The works is very similar to George Barnsley, completely unmodernised and looking about the same as it would have done 50 - 100 years ago. Line shafts complete with various styles of wheels and pulleys, ancient benches and machinery, fireplaces and signage in situ, all still sitting there under hanging enamel shades thick with the dust of the ages...

One of the best sights was the remains of grinding benches, very similar to those in George Barnsley, and something I doubted I would ever get to see when I first started exploring all those years ago. It just shows that places like this, although harder to find nowadays are still sat there.























Likes: thenib1000


Super Moderator
Staff member
Oct 20, 2005
I absolutely love this kind of thing. Any idea how long it's been sat for?
Hard to say, I think that loft has been sat idle for many many years, there was nothing modern up there at all really...

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