Falkirk Brewery (New)
Business: James Aitken and Co (Falkirk) Ltd
The new Falkirk Brewery was established by James Aitken & Co on land across the road from the original brewery on Newmarket Street. The brewery was expanded in 1866 and 1878, and then reconstructed over the period 1898 to 1900 to a design by Peter Lyle Henderson.
Initially the brewery continued to bring in water from the nearby Bantaskine estate, first by cart and then by pipes. However, in 1910 the first artesian well was sunk inside the brewery grounds to a depth of 518 feet. A second well was sunk in 1927 to a depth of 700 feet from which water was pumped at a rate of 100 gallons per minute.
Aitken’s bottling plant was one of the biggest that Alfred Barnard had seen when he visited the brewery in 1889 and he attributed the firm’s export success in part to the cleanliness of their bottling operations. A carbonating and bottling plant was purchased in 1910 and was completely modernised in 1938, with a canning line being added in the late 1950s.
By the 1960s the brewery employed over 200 workers and was producing thousands of barrels a week, while the bottling plant was capable of filling 1,200 dozen bottles an hour.
The brewery also had its own private railway sidings which was completed in 1900 on land acquired from the North British Railway, and which connected it to services via Grahamston Station.
The brewery was closed in 1966 when James Aiken & Co (Falkirk) Ltd was taken over by Northern Breweries of Great Britain Ltd. Some of the brewing equipment was bought by Dudgeon & Co for use in the Belhaven Brewery, Dunbar. The site was sold to Falkirk Town Council in 1970 for £141,000 and the landmark 180 foot terracotta brick chimney was demolished by army engineers. The site is now occupied by an Asda supermarket.
Other Sources of information
The University of Glasgow Archive Services holds a collection of papers relating to James Aitken & Co (Falkirk) Ltd. (Ref : AIT).
Books and periodicals
James Aitken & Co. (Falkirk) Ltd. 200 years of progress. Falkirk: James Aitken & Co. (Falkirk) Ltd., 1940.