Arrol-Johnston Car Factory, Dumfries August 2020

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mookster

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Whilst up in Scotland on our way to do a collection whilst heading back homeward bound I spotted this hulking great lump of a factory off in the distance and knew immediately that we'd have to come back to it after getting the work done. From the road it looked very inviting and after some quick consulting with the lord of knowledge that is Google I quickly found what it once was.

The Arrol-Johnston Company operated originally as Mo-Car Syndicate Ltd., a joint venture between George Johnston and Sir WIlliam Arrol MP started in 1895. Their first vehicle was a six-seater 'Dogcart' produced at a factory in Camlachie, in the east end of Glasgow, but unfortunately the factory premises were destroyed by a fire in 1901 and production moved to Paisley. In 1905 the company name was changed to Arrol-Johnston Car Company Ltd., and they produced various examples of the sort of weird and wonderful early motor cars that were around in those days. In 1913 the company bought land at Heathhall on the outskirts of Dumfries and commissioned Albert Kahn, architect of Ford's Highland Park factory in Detroit to design the new factory for them. The factory was originally built to an 'E' plan, with a further two wings and connecting range added in 1916. The company continued to produce vehicles until 1931, after merging with the Aster company of Wembley in London to form Arrol-Aster in 1927. However in 1929 the company went into receivership and a limited production carried on until it finally ceased two years later. The factory was apparently the first building in the UK to be constructed from ferro-concrete (concrete reinforced with iron), and was the most advanced 'daylight' factory of it's kind ever built in the UK - it is also apparently the most complete 'American' style factory building that still exists over here to this day.

After closure it was bought in 1946 by the North British Rubber Co., which became Uniroyal in the 1960s and later part of the British subsidiary of the Gates Rubber Company. Finally in 2002 it became Interfloor, manufacturing carpet underlay until they vacated the site in 2013.

I have to say having spent a lot of time in the USA and having explored various factories of this style over there it really was like stepping foot into a little piece of derelict America in Scotland, if someone from America didn't realise that this was in Scotland they'd rightfully assume it was on their own turf as the similarities are uncanny and entirely understandable. It may be largely empty but I really enjoyed this place as big industry is something I haven't done enough of lately.

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Thanks for looking :)
 

wolfism

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Good selection of shots, they've cleared lots of Hunter welly and Tredaire underlay-related stuff out of the buildings in the past year or two, and last time I went past I spotted a used car lot at the side of the building (ironically!)
 

mookster

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Good selection of shots, they've cleared lots of Hunter welly and Tredaire underlay-related stuff out of the buildings in the past year or two, and last time I went past I spotted a used car lot at the side of the building (ironically!)

Yeah there's a used car place next to it now - luckily it's just a storage yard there's no permanent staffing there, although when I was on the roof it was total sods law that a car decided to drive in lol!
 

olympus51342

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Whilst up in Scotland on our way to do a collection whilst heading back homeward bound I spotted this hulking great lump of a factory off in the distance and knew immediately that we'd have to come back to it after getting the work done. From the road it looked very inviting and after some quick consulting with the lord of knowledge that is Google I quickly found what it once was.

The Arrol-Johnston Company operated originally as Mo-Car Syndicate Ltd., a joint venture between George Johnston and Sir WIlliam Arrol MP started in 1895. Their first vehicle was a six-seater 'Dogcart' produced at a factory in Camlachie, in the east end of Glasgow, but unfortunately the factory premises were destroyed by a fire in 1901 and production moved to Paisley. In 1905 the company name was changed to Arrol-Johnston Car Company Ltd., and they produced various examples of the sort of weird and wonderful early motor cars that were around in those days. In 1913 the company bought land at Heathhall on the outskirts of Dumfries and commissioned Albert Kahn, architect of Ford's Highland Park factory in Detroit to design the new factory for them. The factory was originally built to an 'E' plan, with a further two wings and connecting range added in 1916. The company continued to produce vehicles until 1931, after merging with the Aster company of Wembley in London to form Arrol-Aster in 1927. However in 1929 the company went into receivership and a limited production carried on until it finally ceased two years later. The factory was apparently the first building in the UK to be constructed from ferro-concrete (concrete reinforced with iron), and was the most advanced 'daylight' factory of it's kind ever built in the UK - it is also apparently the most complete 'American' style factory building that still exists over here to this day.

After closure it was bought in 1946 by the North British Rubber Co., which became Uniroyal in the 1960s and later part of the British subsidiary of the Gates Rubber Company. Finally in 2002 it became Interfloor, manufacturing carpet underlay until they vacated the site in 2013.

I have to say having spent a lot of time in the USA and having explored various factories of this style over there it really was like stepping foot into a little piece of derelict America in Scotland, if someone from America didn't realise that this was in Scotland they'd rightfully assume it was on their own turf as the similarities are uncanny and entirely understandable. It may be largely empty but I really enjoyed this place as big industry is something I haven't done enough of lately.

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Thanks for looking :)
Loved this. I was living in Dumfries 50 years ago aged 6 when this was the Uniroyal factory. My dad worked there. I visited with him and played on the old runway. There was a machine there that cut old golf balls for testing when cut they exploded as full of strands of rubber. Thanks for reigniting the memories I’ve past this to my dad too.
 

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