‘Neglect’ at closed Carron Ironworks blamed for rundown state of historic exhibit

The rundown state of the cannons has prompted action from the regular visitor
The rundown state of the cannons has prompted action from the regular visitor

Carron Ironworks rightfully holds a place in UK industrial history, notably as the maker of cannons used by the Royal Navy for more than 70 years.

Guns including the famous Carronades, built by what was the old Carron Company, were held in such high esteem they were used by the Duke of Wellington when he defeated Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

The tower has become dilapidated in John's opinion

The tower has become dilapidated in John's opinion

Founded in 1759, Carron Company was once one of the largest ironworks in Europe.

Its products were also used by British naval commander Lord Nelson who equipped his flagship HMS Victory with the firm’s cannons.

The cannons were such a source of pride to Carron Company — which became Carron Phoenix after going bust in 1982 — a special exhibit was created under the original ironworks’ clocktower to showcase the guns and explain to visitors and even tourists why they are of such historical importance to the area.

However, it has now been claimed the display has been “left to rot” over the past two years ever since the plant was shut down by the Swiss-based Franke Group, who bought over Carron Phoenix in 1990.

John Fullerton is appalled the historic cannons, and the site, have been allowed to be left in a mess. Pictures: Michael Gillen

John Fullerton is appalled the historic cannons, and the site, have been allowed to be left in a mess. Pictures: Michael Gillen

More than 200 jobs were lost as a result of a phased closure programme, which angered visitors to the site say failed to take into account the need to preserve either the cannons or the clocktower.

John Fullerton, a part-time photographer from Fife, is one such guest who has noticed a deterioration in the appearance of the historical frontage since 2016.

Having made several trips to the ironworks over the years through his love of photography, the 62-year-old decided to document the change in the area, which he now says is strewn in bird droppings.

John believes a lack of care is firmly to blame.

John says the clocktower at Carron Ironworks is not being looked after properly

John says the clocktower at Carron Ironworks is not being looked after properly

He said: “The two main cannons dating from the Battle of Waterloo, and the two then ground-breaking Carronades, are covered in mess from birds and the carriages they sit on are close to collapsing under the weight of the guns.

“It’s just neglect. The tower itself is also looking very dilapidated and rapidly falling to pieces.

“Although I am not a resident of the Falkirk area, my college days in Glasgow in the 1980s taught me that the Carron Ironworks was and still is a very important part of our Scottish history and culture.

“The Carron Ironworks was one of the first things I visited when I came to live in Fife and it is sad to see this last but very important part of it being simply left to rot.”

According to John, a lack of staff has meant proper attention has not been given to what is a vital piece of local history.

He has called for more to be done to ensure the exhibit is shown the care it deserves in the future.

John continued: “You can see how well maintained the area was in 2016.

“Since they moved production abroad it’s been neglected.

“There was only a handful of individuals who remained as employees on the maintenance side but that doesn’t include the historical artefacts.

“They did it up and resited where it’s sat for something for tourists to look at.

“People are not into guns these days, of course, but those two cannons were the only two formally listed in army records as being at the Battle of Waterloo.

“Somebody has to take responsibility for maintaining this and recognise how important that site is.”

The Falkirk Herald has learned Falkirk Community Trust (FCT) has responsibility for the exhibit but has been unable to maintain it as another company, Clowes Developments (Scotland), owns the clocktower where the display is housed and gates guarding a number of its contents have been shut for some time.

An FCT spokeswoman said: “It does belong to Falkirk Community Trust, however, we can’t get access to the building because that’s owned by another company.

“The gates are locked. We have been trying to get in touch with them for the last six months but have been unsuccessful.”

The Falkirk Herald made repeated attempts to contact Clowes Developments (Scotland) this week to ask why access had not been granted to the trust for so long.

However, while a member of staff admitted the company owned the building, we were told no one would be available to comment further before the newspaper went to print last night.