Inventive Genius With His Eyes On The Stars

Inventive Genius With His Eyes On The Stars

THEY turn up in the oddest of places across the world. A mountaintop is not the sort of place you would normally find one. But 6,000 miles from Kilmarnock was where a little steam locomotive spent its working years huffing and puffing away.

The plate on the front of it tells that this locomotive was built by Andrew Barclay Sons & Company, yes, our Barclay's works, here in Kilmar­nock.

The original Kilmarnock company that today trades as Hunslet Barclay, was founded by Andrew Barclay in 1840.

Kilmarnock had a railway of sorts in those days, but most of Scotland did not. Barclay did not start his company to make locomotives, even if that's what it later became famous for.

He was a brilliant engineer and always innovateive. As a keen amateur astronomer, he built his own telescopes. As an ardent supporter of the great Atlantic Telegraph project he conducted important experiments at Troon into how electric cables conduct electricity when under water.
Yet this brilliant engineer, scientist and innovator has remained largely unrecognised, even in Kilmarnock — until now.

About this time next year a Barclay Heritage Centre will be opened in Barclay House, part of the company's former Caledonia works.

It's all part of an ambitious scheme by Klin Homes to transform the building into luxury flats and at the same time "put something back into Kilmarnock."

Andrew Barclay was an Ayrshire man. He was born in Dairy Parish, in 1814, the son of John Barclay.

John was an engineer at a mill there and built and maintained his own equipment. About 1817 he brought his family to Kilmarnock when he found work with Gregory, Thompson and Company.

Andrew showed his remarkable engineering skills from an early age. He was soon working with his father at weaving material for carpets. At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a Mr. Lawson, a tinsmith, coppersmith and plumber.

By 1840 Barclay was ready to launch his own business with Thomas McCulloeh to make mill shafts and machines for the calico printers. This partnership lasted only two years, but by this time Barclay already had a sound reputation.

He built steam rotary engines. His inventive streak meant that he took out several patents.

In 1844 the company moved to West Langlands Street. Barclay built various stationary steam engines and even a beam engine which went to London.

The premises were soon extended. Pit winding and pumping engines were soon being manufac­tured at the Kiimarnock plant.

One day while making an unusually large casting — one of 20 tons of iron — something went wrong and the molten metal burst into the working pit, mixed with stone and brick.

The conglomerate may well still lie beneath the present Hunslet-Barclay building across the road from the buildings now being refurbished.

With the company's experience in steam winding gear and stationary engines, it was inevitable that they would soon make steam locomotives. The first was made for a customer in Hurlford in 1859.

Other orders soon followed and locomotive building quickly came to dominate the order books.

Barclay had many other interests. When the first Atlantic Telegraph failed, the expert opinion was that the insulation had failed.
It was Andrew Barclay who demonstrated that a cable with no insulation could still carry a current even under water. He concluded that the cable had snapped.
Astronomy was also a great passion and Barclay built his first telescope while he was still a teenager. Later he built others, both for his own use and for sale to customers.


Barclay plan steams ahead
PLANNING the Barclay Heritage Centre is already at an advanced stage.
It will be housed In part of the old Caledonia works at the corner of West Langlands Street and North Hamilton Street.
The museum will be owned and operated by the Klin Group, and will be open seven days a week from 11 am to 5 pm.
It will include a large screen showing images related to the Barclay works, iheir locomotives, former employees as well as features on old Kilmarnock.
Richard Gerald Associates from Edinburgh has been drafted in to set up the artefacts, including a locomotive.
It's intended to be fun and educational with a workshop for training young engineers.
There will be a snack bar and a statue of Barclay is also planned.
Hunslet-Barclay have been very supportive and have already provided a wealth of material. However in the run up to the opening, Klin are looking for any Barclay memorabilia, artefacts, film or video.
They are also looking for volunteers to help in the centre, particularly at weekends and holiday times.
A competition for schools is planned to design a mural for one of the centre's walls.
If you can help provide any Barclay material, contact Marie Macklin on 530454.

More heritage centres planned
THE Barclay Heritage Centre is the first of several heritage centres planned by the Klin Group.
A whisky heritage centre is planned as is a Burns centre and a tourist office.
The Klin Group are forging ahead with plans to revitalise parts of Kilmarnock town centre and recognise the town's important historical associations.
The Barclay Centre is planned for the summer of 2005 and the others are likely to follow before the end of 2006.
The whisky centre will be based largely on the Johnnie Walker heritage and will be housed below the new Opera House Hotel. The hotel will retain the facade of the Opera House in John Finnie Street and entry to the whisky centre will be from Croft Street.
The Burns Heritage Centre will be just a minute's walk way and based in a former grocery shop at the corner of Dunlop Street and Croft Street.
As well as artefacts relating to Robert Burns and John Wilson, it's intended to hold recitals and other events here.
Houses are planned on the former Kilmarnock Infirmary site but space will be allocated for a tourist centre, which will include pictures and artifacts relating to the hospital and Kilmarnock in general.
In summer months it's intended to run horse and carriage rides around old Kilmarnock.