Aluminium Works c1938

Notes by Keddie Law

(The caption on the postcard is wrong. It is a photograph of the Aluminium Works, but not from the Lammerlaws.)

Burntisland Aluminium Company started production in the town in 1917. Initially it was designed to produce smelter-grade alumina from bauxite ore imported from Ghana in West Africa. The alumina was then sent to the company’s processing plants at Kinlochleven (opened 1907) and Lochaber, Fort William (opened 1929) where it was converted into aluminium ingots, using locally available hydro-electric power. The final stage was the sending of the ingots to the BAC rolling mill in Falkirk. Although at this time the manufacture of aluminium was the main process, over the years the emphasis shifted away from the metal to the use of the alumina for a variety of purposes, including making paper, abrasives, ceramics, and even light bulbs.

In 1972 the company switched to processing special chemicals, such as aluminium trihydroxide, which was used as a flame retardant filler in the rubber and plastics industries. Further changes occurred in 1982 when the company was merged with the Aluminium Company of Canada Limited and two years later the name British Aluminium was replaced by the term Alcan.

In 2002 Alcan announced its intention of closing its Burntisland plant, with the loss of around 370 jobs. Production ceased in late 2002, with a 1m fund set aside by Alcan to promote regeneration of the area. As at June 2008, an extensive house-building programme is transforming the site of the old factory, with a total of over 300 houses planned.