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William Baird


1796 - 1864

Industrialist and politician. The eldest of eight sons of a farmer who had begun mining coal on a small-scale, Baird was born on a farm in the Monklands area of Lanarkshire and educated at the parish school of Old Monkland. He was able to make his fortune by greatly expanding his father's coal-mining operations and building an ironworks at Gartsherrie (1828). Baird inherited these ventures on the death of his father in 1833 and set up William Baird & Company in partnership with his younger brother, James (1802-76). This company went on to become the largest producer of pig-iron in Britain. Baird continued to expand his coal interests in Lanarkshire and also in Ayrshire, leasing land from the Earl of Eglinton.

Baird served as Conservative Member of Parliament for the Falkirk Burghs (1841-6) and was a director of both the Forth and Clyde Canal and later the Caledonian Railway Company.

Baird acquired an estate at Elie (Fife) in 1853.


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