We’ve made a couple of trips to ICI Nobel, part of the site is still live with other companies working there and some of it is covered by The Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations (MSER) of 2005 which would mean it is a criminal offence to enter. So with this in mind you have to tread carefully here.
Nobel Industries Limited was founded in 1870 by Swedish chemist and industrialist Alfred Nobel for the production of the new explosive dynamite. Ardeer, on the coast at Ayrshire, was chosen for the company’s first factory. The business later diversified into the production of blasting gelatine, gelignite, ballistite, guncotton, and cordite. At its peak, the factory was employing nearly 13,000 men and women.
In 1926, the firm merged with Brunner, Mond & Company, the United Alkali Company, and the British Dyestuffs Corporation, creating a new group, Imperial Chemical Industries, then one of Britain’s largest firms. Nobel Industries continued as the ICI Nobel division of the company.
ICI Ardeer was commonly known locally as the ‘factory’ or the ‘Dinnamite’. At the time the company generally provided higher quality employment regarding terms and conditions and pension rights than other local firms. The Ardeer site was almost like a community, and there were so many people employed there that a bank, travel agent and dentist were at one time based on the site. The former Western Scottish Bus Company provided tens of buses per day to transport the workers to and from the site, and until the mid 1960s there were even two trains per day to transport workers to a station within the factory.