Lifetime’s work rewarded with major honour

Brian with his wife, Janey, Christine Bell and Ian Howarth of the Communities Along the Carron Association
Brian with his wife, Janey, Christine Bell and Ian Howarth of the Communities Along the Carron Association

The efforts of a local man to ensure the role Carron Company played in the Industrial Revolution is never forgotten have been recognised.

Brian Watters spent nearly 35 years researching the history of one of the biggest employers in Falkirk district to write two books on the subject.

Where Iron Runs Like Water: A New History of The Carron Iron Works was published in 1998 and followed by Carron: Where Iron Runs Like Water in 2010.

Both meticulously researched works record the fortunes of the firm founded in 1759 that made everything from cannons, including the famous Carronades used by the British Navy in the Napoleonic Wars, to fire grates, kitchen ranges, cookers and even iron tiles for the Houses of Parliament.

Both books, published with the support of the Falkirk Local History Society, chart the careers of ambitious founders Dr John Roebuck and Samuel Garbett and the equally determined men that followed them, William Cadell, Charles Gascoigne, Joseph Stainton and William Dawson who all contributed to making Carron Company one of the biggest and most famous iron works in the world.

Now his fascination with the company, and his passion to share his knowledge by giving talks and presentations to local schools, community groups and history societies, has been acknowledged with the presentation of the Lifetime Contribution to the Historic Environment prize at the second annual Scottish Heritage Angel Awards.

Funded by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, they are a celebration of the efforts of remarkable volunteers or ‘Angels’ who give up their time to help better understand, appreciate, protect and celebrate Scotland’s proud heritage and history.

The judges said: “Brian is an inspiring example of dedication, devotion and selflessness. Not only has he kept the memory of this once proud industrial powerhouse alive but he has tirelessly worked to share his knowledge, giving so much of his own time to help others learn about the history and role of this important engine of the industrial revolution.”

After the presentation in the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, Brian, a 69-year-old retired technical officer with BT from Alloa Road in Carron, admitted: “It’s a great honour, particularly given the calibre of nominations for this category.

“It’s hard to believe I’ve worked to research, promote and protect the Carron iron works for something like 35 years because the time has flown by and it’s rarely felt like ‘work’, rather a labour of love with many rewards along the way, not least the reaction I get from public engagements when I see people becoming aware of and interested in the iron works.”

Christine Bell, project co-ordinator with the Communities Along the Carron Association who nominated Brian for the prestigious award, said: “We’re totally delighted for him. Brian has worked tirelessly dedicating himself to his subject and has helped our group enormously.”