Bladen & Co.

Ironworkers

B/W Advertisement for Bladen & Co, 'Glasgow Building Trades Exchange', 1896, p. 166

Bladen & Co., iron and steel merchants and fireproof construction contractors, were founded by Harold Foster Bladen (1861–1927). He came to Scotland as a child, when his English father was appointed as manager at Blochairn Iron Works, Glasgow, in the late 1860s. 1 He trained as a structural engineer, working for Hurst, Nelson & Co., ironfounders, who made railway wagons, wheels, axles, and structural and fireproof steelwork. In 1892–3, Bladen set up Bladen & Co., with his works at Parkhead, already the home of several other iron foundries. 2 The company were 'iron and steel merchants, and fireproof constructors' just as his previous employers had been.

Bladen's got the contract to supply ironwork to the new Greenock Co-operative Buildings (W. Burns Stewart, 1893), where the combination of a bakery with shops and flats made their expertise in fireproofing highly relevant. 3 They also supplied the steelwork for the five-storey Salvation Army Citadel in Aberdeen (James Souttar, 1893–6). 4

By 1900, Bladen had named his foundry the 'Parkhead Girder Works', and was issuing shares to staff in order to raise capital. 5 He provided the steelwork for the reconstruction of the Royal Automobile Club in Blythswood Square, Glasgow, in 1909, while also making and selling 'patent flooring girders'. 6 By 1911, however, he appears to have left the company he had founded, and was working as a chief engineering draughtsman in London. 7

In 1917, the company was liquidated and restructured, just before a fire destroyed its pattern shop at Tollcross. 8 It continued, however, and was one of several Glasgow and Motherwell structural engineering firms awarded Air Ministry contracts for barrage balloon sheds in the run-up to the Second World War in 1939. 9

Notes:

1: 1871 Census, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 18 April 2012]; Glasgow Herald, 20 January 1873, p. 4.

2: Glasgow Herald, 5 September 1892, p. 6; Glasgow Post Office Directories, 1891–4

3: Glasgow Herald, 5 September 1892, p. 6; 13 March 1893, p. 8.

4: Aberdeen Weekly Journal, 20 June 1896, p. 4.

5: Scotsman, 29 December 1900, p. 4.

6: Scotsman, 2 July 1909, p. 4; 26 May 1911, p. 5.

7: 1911 Census, England, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 18 April 2012].

8: Edinburgh Gazette, 5 June 1917, p. 3096; Scotsman, 4 February 1918, p. 4.

9: Scotsman, 10 February 1939, p. 6.