Testing a new pipe bending machine in Murray and Paterson's works, Coatbridge. About 1930. Testing a new pipe bending machine in Murray and Paterson's works, Coatbridge. About 1930.

Engineering Lanarkshire: Murray & Paterson

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One of the longest-trading engineering firms in Lanarkshire, Murray and Paterson was established in 1868. From their Coatbank Engine Works in Coatbridge the firm built a wide variety of machinery.

The firm was originally formed as Strathern, Murray and Paterson but Mr A Morton Strathern, who held the patents for some of the engines they produced left the partnership in 1871 after only three years. At the start they concentrated on building steam engines including engines for a yacht for the Chilean government in 1870. In particular they built engines to power rolling mills for iron and steelworks both local and as far afield as England. For example, in 1871 they built a 250 HP steam engine to drive a rolling mill at the Clydesdale Iron Works near Motherwell. This business building rolling mill engines led Murray and Paterson to start making other ironworks plant include the rolling mills themselves and shearing machines.

Richard Murray died suddenly in 1897, forcing John Paterson to reconsider his plans for retirement and became Chairman of the company, appointing as Managing Director John McGregor, who would eventually succeed him as Chairman. The firm moved into their Coatbank Engine Works near Whifflet in 1900, the same year that they became a limited company and continued to build rolling mills and machine tools such as bending machines and presses. As rolling mill technology advanced the company moved from building whole rolling mills to acting as a sub-contractor making parts for mills made by other companies. They also supplied a variety of machinery for coal mines.

In 1924 the firm built two large twin-cylinder horizontal winding engines for Cardowan Colliery, one of which is now preserved at Summerlee Museum in Coatbridge. These engines were a modification of an engine design for powering rolling mills. Like rolling mill engines, winding engines needed to be very powerful and able to quickly change direction.

A rolling mill for the Victoria Steel Works in Coatbridge, built around the same time also survives and is on loan to the museum service courtesy of the Trustees of National Museums Scotland. Demand for steam engines was in decline by the 1930s as electric power began to replace steam but the company was able to diversify: pipe bending machines were a particular speciality, along with straightening machines.

The company used a pair of mobile radial drills: situations where a workpiece was too difficult to move, the drill would be brought to it. One of the drills is now on display in the Engineering Pavilion at Summerlee Museum. Murray and Paterson survived until the recession of the early 1980s, closing in 1983.


Neil Dinsmore worked at Murray and Paterson for more than ten years, starting as an apprentice in the 1950s. Here he describes the working hours.

Neil Dinsmore recalls an attempt by workers to go on strike over working conditions in the 1950s.

Jack Tripney describes a joke he and another worker played on their foreman on the nightshift during the Second World War black-out.

Neil Dinsmore explains how they maintained the machinery in the factory.

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