The Planning of the Heritage Center
The buildings are the most important asset of the museum. They tell the story of the development of an industrial landscape which has seen many changes in its role and status through the years.
The Ardoon House
Ardoon House was built as a home for the ironworks managers. The house was built some time in the 1850’s and is thought to have been designed by the architects William Burn and David Bryce of Glasgow. The house is very large, listed as ‘Jacobean’ in style and located above the ironworks, surrounded by planted woodland and formal gardens.
A grand view over the site would have been offered to the resident ironworks manager and he could have kept a watchful eye on all activity taking place. The house continued in use when the ironworks converted to a brickworks as the residence of the brickworks owner.
The Entrance to Ardoon
The Ardoon house underwent extensive renovations works in the mid 2000s with the intention of returning it to a period back in the 19th centuries so as to depict the true picture about industrial revolution in those times. There was also an intention to open a countryside interpretation center to provide information about the Doon Valley, which was to contain five Sites of Special Scientific Interests.
Blowing Engine House
The Blowing Engine House is the most important building on the site. It is a Grade A listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and the only surviving Blowing Engine House from this period left standing in Europe.
The Engine House was built to house the blast engine, which powered a large bellows and ensured a regulated air flow to the furnaces. The building dates from 1847 when the ironworks first opened, housing an engine built by Murdoch & Aitken of Glasgow – a firm who supplied some seventy blast engines to ironworks in Scotland and England. A contemporary Murdoch and Aitken blast engine has been preserved at Ironbridge Gorge Museum. By 1864 the ironworks had expanded to the point where a second blast engine was required. The engine house was extended in 1865 to house this new engine, built this time by the Lillishall Engineering Company of Shropshire.
The Blowing Engine House is the architectural jewel in the crown at Dunaskin. Built mostly of large sandstone blocks it has been finished with a high degree of classical Italianate detailing. At present the architect is unknown, but it may have been designed by William Burn, who was responsible for Ardoon House. Each side wall features two pairs of tall, round head windows, and there are twin doorways located on the front elevation of the building.
After the Ironworks closed in 1921 the Engine House lay dormant until it was converted in 1928 to house brick making machinery. The engines were stripped out and sold for scrap and the gap in the floor filled with brick and debris and concreted over. A clay loft was built in each half to hold supplies of clay which were dropped from above into the brick presses, which then shaped the clay into a brick ready for firing. The building remained in use in this manner until the brickworks closed in 1978.
The Blowing Engine House has been made weatherproof after years of careful conservation. It is planned to conduct an archaeological excavation of the floor area to determine the size and scale of the blast engines that were housed here, and use this information to reconstruct a full size working replica engine.
The kilns are the most dominant buildings of the brick-working phase on the site. There are two different types of kiln here, a Staffordshire Type built in 1928 and a Hoffmann Type kiln built in 1935 to cope with the additional demands on the brickworks.
The Staffordshire kiln was built by Dean, Hetherington & Co. of Accorington in 1928. It is called a Staffordshire Kiln as it is of a type popular in that county. The kiln is composed of 14 chambers, 7 on each side. 16,000 bricks were stacked in each chamber. Heat was fed into the chambers from an underfloor heating system, which saw the interior of the kiln reach temperatures of between 1100 – 1200 oC. The bricks remained in the chamber for 2 weeks to bake fully, after which time they were taken out and allowed to cool gradually. The kiln operated continuously and was used up until the brickworks closed in 1978.
The Hoffmann Kiln was built in 1935 by William Cleghorn of Newmains. This kiln consists of one long continuous chamber, divided into 24 sub – chambers by temporary walls made of wet paper. Each chamber could hold 14,000 bricks and temperatures of 1000 – 1100 oC were achieved. Each chamber opening was bricked up once firing commenced, and the firing process was again 2 weeks.
Above picture shows the interior of the Hoffman Kiln
Chapel Row Cottages
Chapel Row Cottages are representative of the housing built for the workers of the Ironworks. There were over 900 such houses built near the ironworks, some located in purpose built ‘hill villages’ such as Lethanhill, which were demolished in the 1950’s as they had become unfit for human habitation,and the population rehoused locally.
Now only two rows of these cottages survive at Waterside and have been modernized to allow for comfortable living today. One cottage has been preserved by the museum as it would have been in 1914, and is open to the public.
The houses were very basic. There were no baths, running water or sanitary provisions. An open fire provided all the heating and cooking facilities. Water was collected at a communal font and carried to the houses in buckets. Household rubbish was dumped on open middens as there was no refuge collection. Overcrowding was also a problem in the cottages.
Large families were the rule rather than the exception and family sizes of ten were common. There was not enough room inside the cottage to sleep everyone. A ‘whurlie-bed’ was kept under the main bed. This was a bed on wheels and at night was wheeled out from under the bed. It could accommodate two adults. A home-made wooden cradle sufficed as a bed for babies, and in some families the same cradle had been in use for several generations.
Chapel Row Cottage consisted of four rooms – the main living area, a guest bedroom, a parlor and a washroom. The cottage is fitted out with objects that would have been in everyday use at the time (including a ‘whurlie-bed’!), giving a fascinating insight into life in the early part of the 20th Century.
The Managers Office
The managers office was built in 1871 as the administrative center for the Ironworks. The buildings continued in this role throughout the site’s history, expanding as necessary to accommodate more offices. It was further extended in the 1940’s by the National Coal Board and served as their regional offices. The Victorian section is built of local sandstone in a bungalow style. The 1940’s extension of the building has classic metal windows and is of rendered brick construction.
The building is now used as the visitor center for the museum. It houses a reconstruction of the Ironworks’s managers office and the audio-visual presentations as well as the museum shop and restaurant.