Robert Wilson Factory Kilwinning
Robert Wilson and Sons Ltd once operated a meat processing and canning factory within the ground of Eglinton Country Park at Kilwinning, Ayrshire. The factory was located within the converted stables which once served Eglinton Castle.
Robert Wilson established the business in the early part of the 20th century, and was one of a number of ham curers which operated in the area. The factory closed in 1997, following the acquisition of its business, and the building has lain abandoned and derelict since its closure.
A claim that the factory was closed in order to obtain its order book:
There possibly was fairly extensive pig raising, because in the first half of the 20th. Century there were circa 13 Ham Curers operating in the village. One – Robert Wilson went on to found a nationally recognised company producing meat products in a factory sited in Eglinton Country Park. This company was ‘bought out’ in the latter half of the century. The new owners having gained the Wilson’s order book then closed the Eglinton factory.
Robert Wilson gave the land in Lugton Road, on which he started the business, to the people of Dunlop. There is now a Rest Garden on the site.
An advert for the former factory:
Date: 30 May 1997
Montagu Evans seek buyer for 103,600 sq ft factory
Montagu Evans have been appointed as selling agents for the Robert Wilson Meat Processing factory in Kilwinning.
The plant, which at one time employed 300 people, closes in June and East Ayrshire Council, which is providing some assistance in the project, is hopeful that a new manufacturing facililty can be created on the site.
John Costello of Montagu Evans' Glasgow Office said: "This is an excellent development opportunity on 19.36 acres in a mature parkland environment. There is a readily available skilled workforce, and the site is particularly suitable for food manufacture, although it is also easily adaptable for a variety of other hightech production and manufacturing uses."
The site is also well connected to the local transport infrastructure via the newly completed M77 motorway extension
Working in the factory was fairly standard, and suffered from the usual downsides of water everywhere to keep the facilities clean, and of being cold, since working with fresh meat products meant keeping everything chilled to prevent the spread of infection.
The canteen was more fun, and provided some of the lighter moments. The first visit educated the visitor to the fact that whatever you chose would come with boiled potatoes. These were kept on the go most of the time, and the reason for their choice as opposed to the more usual selection of chips was to eliminate the chance of chip fat fire in the old building, summed up by the cook as "They don't trust us with fryers".
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