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University of Glasgow Archive Services

Heavy Industry & Manufacturing

Scotland's heavy industry and manufacturing sector began to develop in the second half of the 18th century.  It was soon dominated by the shipbuilding, locomotive manufacturing, engineering and steel industries.

Scotland became known as the 'Workshop of the World' building machinery, bridges, piers, ships, locomotives, ironwork and many other products that were exported across the globe. The 1938 Wealth of a Nation film states that "the world came to Scotland to buy and to every country she despatched the products of her craftsmen's skills."
The heavy industries based around shipbuilding and locomotives went into severe decline after World War II. Manufacturing in Scotland shifted its focus in the post-war years with investment in light engineering and manufacturing. 
Scots at Work

The Scots at Work exhibition ran from April to June 2013 at General Register House, National Records of Scotland. Vistors had the opportunity to view the following items which were on display in the 'Heavy Industry & Manufacturing' case:

  • Drawing no. 28 for the Cavenagh Bridge, Singapore, 1868 - University of Glasgow Archive Services, P & W MacLellan 
  • Rangefinder Order no. 1250 for Captain R F Scott, 1910 - University of Glasgow Archive Services, Barr & Stroud Ltd
  • Mackenzie & Moncur Ltd catalogue, 1900 - University of Glasgow Archive Services, Mackenzie & Moncur Ltd
  • Catalogue for ‘Carresto’ combination grates, 1938 - National Records of Scotland, Carron Company
  • Image of shipyard workers constructing The City of New York, 1889 - National Records of Scotland, Upper Clyde Shipbuilders

Also on display is a selection of archive film footage of industry and manufacturing (1932 - 1969) from the Scottish Screen Archive.

Heavy Industry & Manufacturing Records in Scotland

There are over 800 archive collections relating to heavy industry and manufacturing in Scotland. Many of these collections contain evidence of innovation and inventions that have shaped our lives. They can be found in nearly every archive repository, key collections are held in The Scottish Business Archive at the University of Glasgow and records of nationalised and private companies are held by the National Records of Scotland.