Taking their name from the River Carron which ran
alongside their foundry, The Carron Company were founded in 1759,
using iron-ore mined at nearby Bo'ness and water from the river.
Coal was dug from their own mines in the surrounding area. Perhaps
Carron's most famous products were naval cannons, including the
"Carronade"; the light cannon which Nelson used to
such devastating effect when defeating the French at Trafalgar
in 1805. More mundanely and later in their life, Carron were
responsible for the casting of most of the British GPO's pillar
boxes and the once-familiar red telephone boxes. In the first
half of the nineteenth century The Carron Company's facility at
Falkirk was the greatest iron foundry in Europe, if not in the
Carron owned and operated a
sizeable number of lighters which operated in conjunction with the
larger steamships of the Carron Line sailing in regular
passenger and cargo services between Grangemouth and London. These lighters were
numbered instead of being given conventional names. Initially
I catalogued only those known to have been
powered at the time of their launch as I
had no information to suggest that any of the others were modified
post-launch. However, I have since come across two which were: "No.4" which a Lloyds List report of
1881 defines as a "Steam Lighter", and No 16
of which I have been sent a photograph clearly showing her lum. As far as
I am aware all of the others, i.e. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8,
11, 14, 15, 17, 18 and 19 never were engined.
These lighters were all operated
either on Carron's own account carrying coal and iron ore to their
furnaces and to take out manufactured products to the ships waiting in the ports of Grangemouth,
Bo'ness and Leith on the Forth. The Carron Line ships also
carried general cargo and the lighters were used to distribute inbound
and collect outbound cargoes from ports in the Forth, along the
length of the Forth and Clyde Canal, and in the Firth of Clyde.
Any interesting footnote to Carron Line's Grangemouth
to London sailings is an advertisement of 1806 held by Falkirk
Council Archives for a service by their vessel "Galatea" which it
describes as being "Armed with 14 carronades and well manned".
Beware of pirates and the French in the North Sea eh ? .
Much has been written of the history of Carron but
unfortunately not much has been included about their fleet of
lighters and so detailed information is hard to come