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James Hunter (1818-1886)

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James Hunter (1818-1886)

1887 Obituary [1]

JAMES HUNTER, for many years managing partner of Coltness Ironworks, died on the 5th of October, 1886. The news was received with much regret. Few men in recent years took a deeper interest in iron manufacture, or did more for its development.

Mr. Hunter was born at Muirkirk, Ayrshire, in 1818. When a boy he was employed in the office of the ironworks there, and went to Coltness in 1836 to assist in drawing and carrying out plans for the construction of new ironworks. His remarkable energy and ability were soon discovered, and in a short time he became manager of the works. Two furnaces were built at first; but in 1846 they were increased to six, and ultimately reached twelve. The rise and progress of the works were largely owing to the intelligence and enterprise of Mr. Hunter, though he was cordially supported by the Messrs. Houldsworth, who had a large stake in the concern.

Important and valuable seams of black-band ironstone were secured at Crofthead, some 7 miles distant from Coltness, and the whole undertaking was managed with so much technical skill and enterprise that the Coltness brand became known all over the world. But Mr. Hunter, though much engrossed with business, found time to interest himself in all that pertained to the welfare of the community among whom he lived. The education of the young specially engaged his attention, and many years ago he devised a system by which the children of all his workmen should receive, at the least expense, the best possible elementary education.

In the first school boards of the parishes of Cambusnethan and Ballantrae he filled the office of Chairman, giving much satisfaction; and in connection with Local Road Trusts and Licensing Courts he also did good service. In a wider sphere Mr. Hunter performed important works.

The Caledonian Railway Company, and the Dalmellington branch of the Glasgow and South Western Railway, owed not a little to his support.

For thirty years he was a Justice of the Peace in Lanarkshire, and at the time of his death he was a Deputy- Lieutenant of Ayrshire. He was also a Director of the Scottish Widows’ Fund and of the National Bank of Scotland.

In 1854 he purchased the property of Auldhouseburn, in his native parish of Muirkirk, and, at a subsequent date, the beautiful estate of Glenapp, where he built a very fine mansion-house. About a year ago he retired from the active management of Coltness works, and at his death he was living at his winter residence in Edinburgh.

Mr. Hunter was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 4th of April, 1854.

1886 Obituary [2]

Mr. JAMES HUNTER, of Glenapp, the managing partner of the Coltness Iron Company, died at his town residence, Edinburgh, on the 5th October last.

At an early age he became connected with the Muirkirk Ironworks in Ayrshire, whence in 1838 he proceeded to the Coltness Ironworks in Lanarkshire. At this time Mr. Hunter was only twenty-one years of age. The iron trade of Scotland was comparatively in its infancy. At Coltness there were only two blast furnaces erected; and these were of small size, producing only about 100 tons per week each. With the sanction and support of the Messrs. Houldsworth, the proprietors of the estate and works of Coltness, Mr. Hunter rapidly developed the works, along with their accessory collieries and iron mines, until they came to take rank among the largest and finest in Scotland. For many years past they have consisted of twelve furnaces, which, until within the last few years of serious depression set in, were almost continuously in blast, except when some of them were being relined or reconstructed, and the brand "Coltness" came to be well known and highly appreciated in almost all parts of the world.

His position at Coltness necessarily gave Mr. Hunter a leading place among the ironmasters of the West of Scotland. He was, up to the very last, keenly alive to all that affected the welfare of that important industry; and only a few months prior to his decease he took an active interest in negotiations that were designed to remedy the exceptional and prolonged depression of the Scotch iron trade by a restriction of production. His genial and hearty manner, his unfailing good-temper and bonhomie, and his remarkable tact and judgment, eminently qualified him to carry on delicate and difficult negotiations in which considerations of meum and tuum were liable to lead to rupture.

Desiring to retire gradually from the active management of the large undertaking which he had conducted for so many years, Mr. Hunter, only in July last, left Newmains House, where he had formerly lived, and proceeded to live at Edinburgh. Another cause for this removal was his appointment to a director's seat at the board of one of the principal Scotch banks. So far as appearances went he had still a long period of usefulness before him; but a sudden chill induced inflammation of the lungs, to which he ultimately succumbed.

Among his many offices and appointments, apart from the iron trade, Mr. Hunter was a Deputy-Lieutenant for Lanarkshire, a Commissioner of Supply for the County of Lanark, a member of the County Licensing Committee, a Director of the Scottish Widows' Fund, and of the National Bank of Scotland. At the general election of 1874 he stood as a candidate for the representation of Glasgow in the Conservative interest, but was defeated.

Mr. Hunter was one of the original members of the Iron and Steel Institute, and for a short time after its establishment occupied a seat at the Council Board. He was also a member of the British Iron Trade Association, of the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, and of several other bodies of a technical and commercial character.

1886 Obituary[3]

"The Late Mr. James Hunter, Ironmaster.—The death is announced of Mr. James Hunter, who was for thirty years managing partner of the Coltness Iron Co and was prominently identified with the development of the iron manufacture in Scotland for nearly half a century."

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