The birthplace of dynamite: Inside the crumbling remains of the Scottish factory where renowned chemist Alfred Nobel first produced the explosive in 1870
- Stunning pictures show crumbling, flaking remains of Nobel Industries Limited's first factory at Ardeer in Scotland
- The factory, where the Swedish chemist first produced the explosive, employed nearly 13,000 men and women
- After establishing factories in Stockholm and Hamburg, Nobel wanted to extend his business into Britain
- He turned his attentions to Scotland after England - a potentially lucrative market - had strict safety regulations
By Ekin Karasin For Mailonline
Published: 10:43, 25 July 2016 | Updated: 18:19, 27 July 2016
These stunning pictures offer a rare glimpse into the Scottish birthplace of dynamite where renowned Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel first produced the explosive in 1870.
They captured the crumbling, flaking remains of Nobel Industries Limited's first factory in the remote location of Ardeer in Scotland, while an aerial shot provides insight into the vast size of the operation.
At its peak, the founder of the Nobel prize's factory is said to have employed nearly 13,000 men and women and some shots show doodles left behind by years of bored workers.
#1 Historic: Stunning pictures offer a rare glimpse into the Scottish birthplace of dynamite where renowned Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel first produced the explosive in 1870
#2 Forgotten: The crumbling, flaking remains of a power station at Nobel Industries Limited's first factory at Ardeer in Scotland were pictured in stunning clarity
#3 Nature takes its course: A rusting metal tower was pictured among the vast network of buildings
#4 Unused: Metal machinery rusted over the time had been used by nearly 13,000 men and women at the factory during the establishment's peak
#5 A bygone era: The images were taken by a member of the Abandoned Scotland group, who are dedicated to exploring Scotland's forgotten landmarks
#6 Panoramic: An aerial shot provided an insight into the enormous size of Alfred Nobel's operation in Scotland
Having already established factories in Stockholm and Hamburg, Nobel turned his attentions to the potentially very lucrative market in England - but was met with strict safety regulations and ended up in Scotland instead.
Nobel took out a British patent for dynamite in May 1867 and began a publicity campaign to convince the authorities and potential users of the safety of his new explosive.
The first demonstration was carried out at Merstham Quarry, Surrey, in July 1867, during which he set fire to sticks of dynamite, threw packets of the explosives from a cliff, and detonated it in various ways to show both what it could do and its safety. The demonstrations, however, failed to persuade the authorities at this time.
Nobel persisted with his efforts and was able to convince the authorities of the safety of dynamite after two years and got an easing of strict regulations.
But he was still unable to obtain permission to establish his business in England and eventually turned to Scotland where he found a receptive group of businessmen willing to help.
With the aid of John Downie, then the General Manager of the Glasgow shipbuilding firm the Fairfield Engineering and Shipbuilding Company, Nobel set up a company with a factory site on the west coast of Scotland some 30 kilometres south of Glasgow on the Clyde Estuary with the rights to work his patents under the name of The British Dynamite Company.
Nobel eventually acquired 100 acres from the Earl of Eglinton, and established the British Dynamite Factory in 1871.
He then went on to create what was described then as the largest explosives factory in the world. The sand and dunes on the site provided natural safety features for the site and its workers.
#7 Abandoned: Having scoured the country for a remote location for his explosive factory, Nobel eventually acquired 100 acres from the Earl of Eglinton, and established the British Dynamite Factory in 1871
#8 Global: Aside from the Ardeer factory, Nobel had laboratories in Stockholm and later in Hamburg, Germany. He also worked in Paris and Sevran in France, Karlskogam in Sweden and San Remo in Italy
#9 Deserted: The factory where dynamite was first established was left with wires strewn across the floor and broken machinery due to years of neglect
#10 Wilderness: Brambles and ferns grew into the infrastructure as nature took its course around the building
#11 Inventor: Nobel focused on the development of explosives technology as well as other chemical inventions, such as synthetic rubber and leather and artificial silk. He had 355 patents by the time he died in 1896
Striking photos, taken by the Abandoned Scotland group, who are dedicated to exploring Scotland's forgotten landmarks, showed the rusting remains of the factory.
'The pictures show off a number of different areas of the site including the more recent power station, a few of the outlying buildings used to house and test explosives and a few of the ways the site was connected to the outside world (sea, rail and road),' said a member of the group.
'We visited the site on a number of occasions due to its enormous size.
'I love how still and quiet the place can be. It's a far reach from the hustle and bustle of the average city life.
'I can easily get wrapped up in taking shots for hours at a time, enjoying the peace and quiet. It also gives you time to reflect on what the place must have been like when it was fully operational.'
Nobel patented dynamite in 1867. After returning to Sweden from St Petersburg in 1863, he had concentrated on developing nitroglycerine as an explosive.
His brother Emil and several other people died in 1864 in one of several explosions, convincing authorities that nitroglycerine production was severely dangerous.
Nobel decided to mix nitroglycerine safer with different additives and found that mixing nitroglycerine with kielselghur would turn the liquid into a paste.
That paste could be moulded into rods of a size and form suitable for insertion into drilling holes, leading to his discovery of dynamite.
#12 Pioneer: Nobel took out a British patent for dynamite in May 1867 and began a publicity campaign to convince the authorities and potential users of the safety of his new explosive
#13 Neglect: One picture depicted the state of the power station in the factory, over a decade after it was first established
#14 A slice of history: The dials and switches on a control board in the power station remained intact despite years of neglect
#15 Expanding: With the aid of John Downie, then the General Manager of the Glasgow shipbuilding firm the Fairfield Engineering and Shipbuilding Company, Nobel set up The British Dynamite Company on the west coast of Scotland some 30 kilometres south of Glasgow on the Clyde Estuary
#16 Another world: A member of Abandoned Scotland, who took the images said: 'I love how still and quiet the place can be. It's a far reach from the hustle and bustle of the average city life'
Nobel focused on the development of explosives technology as well as other chemical inventions, such as synthetic rubber and leather and artificial silk.
He had 355 patents by the time he died in 1896.
After being dismayed at condemnation for profiting from the sales of arms Alfred Nobel left most of his wealth in a trust in order to establish the Nobel Prizes, including the Nobel Peace Prize, which continue to this day.
Abandoned Scotland's aim is to 'preserve a bit of history for future generations'.
'There are so many abandoned buildings across the country which really show off the history of Scotland but sadly a lot of them are far beyond being saved, even if it was just as a ruin,' a member of the group said.
'It would be great if some of these buildings could be saved in some manner, but given the current financial climate it seems likely that the vast majority are doomed.
'I like to think that by visiting the sites and capturing them we are preserving a bit of history for future generations.
#17 ALFRED NOBEL: THE FOUNDER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE AND INVENTOR OF DYNAMITE
Alfred Nobel was born in Stockholm on October 21, 1833.
His father Immanuel Nobel, an engineer and inventor, built bridges and buildings in Stockholm and experimented with different techniques for blasting rocks.
In 1837 Immanuel Nobel left Stockholm and his family to start a new career in Finland and in Russia and was successful in his new enterprise in St. Petersburg, Russia.
He started a mechanical workshop which provided equipment for the Russian army and he convinced the Tsar and his generals that naval mines could be used to block enemy naval ships from attacking the city.
The naval mines designed by Immanuel Nobel were simple devices consisting of submerged wooden casks filled with gunpowder. He was also a pioneer in arms manufacture and in designing steam engines.
Alfred moved to St Petersburg thanks to his father's success in his industrial and business ventures in 1842.
There, he was taught by private teachers, with training included natural sciences, languages and literature. By the age of 17 Alfred was fluent in Swedish, Russian, French, English and German.
During a two year period Alfred Nobel visited Sweden, Germany, France and the United States. In Paris, the city he came to like best, he worked in the private laboratory of Professor T. J. Pelouze, a famous chemist.
There he met the young Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero who, three years earlier, had invented nitrogylcerine, a highly explosive liquid - produced by mixing glycerine with sulfuric and nitric acid.
Alfred Nobel became very interested in nitroglycerine and how it could be put to practical use in construction work.
Together with his father he performed experiments to develop nitroglycerine as a commercially and technically useful explosive.
As the war ended and conditions changed, Immanuel Nobel was again forced into bankruptcy. Immanuel and two of his sons, Alfred and Emil, left St. Petersburg together and returned to Stockholm.
After his return to Sweden in 1863, Alfred Nobel concentrated on developing nitroglycerine as an explosive. Several explosions, including one in 1864 in which his brother Emil and several other persons were killed, convinced the authorities that nitroglycerine production was exceedingly dangerous.
To make the handling of nitroglycerine safer Alfred Nobel experimented with different additives. He soon found that mixing nitroglycerine with kielselghur would turn the liquid into a paste which could be shaped into rods of a size and form suitable for insertion into drilling holes. In 1867 he patented this material under the name of dynamite.
The market for dynamite and detonating caps grew very rapidly and Alfred Nobel also proved himself to be a very skillful entrepreneur and businessman.
By 1865 his factory in Krümmel near Hamburg, Germany, was exporting nitroglycerine explosives to other countries in Europe, America and Australia. Over the years he founded factories and laboratories in some 90 different places in more than 20 countries.
Nobel himself worked intensively in his various laboratories, first in Stockholm and later in Hamburg, Germany, Ardeer in Scotland, Paris and Sevran in France, Karlskogam in Sweden and San Remo in Italy.
He focused on the development of explosives technology as well as other chemical inventions, including such materials as synthetic rubber and leather, artificial silk, etc. By the time of his death in 1896 he had 355 patents.
#18 Vast network of buildings: Several of the outlying buildings used to house and test explosives were also captured
#19 Travel: Striking photos showed how the remote site was connected to the rest of the world via a rail network
#20 The test of time: The plumbing and infrastructure had unsurprisingly been worn down by the decades that passed since they were in use