In 1895 it was demonstrated that Alabama pig-iron could be sent to Liverpool and sold cheaper than the English product, and Birmingham (Alabama) came consequently to rank next to Middlesborough and Glasgow among the world centres of the pig-iron trade.
The rise of the iron industry dates from the establishment of the Carron ironworks near Falkirk in 1760, but it was the introduction of railways that gave the production of pig-iron its greatest impetus.
Its imports during the same year amounted to 899,201 tons, including 172,319 tons of grain and other agricultural produce, 156,620 tons of firewood, 145,255 tons of pig-iron and manufactured iron and steel, 47,201 tons of iron ore, 121,168 tons of copper, -silver, lead, tin and nickel with their ores and alloys, 63,009 tons of zinc, its ores and alloys, 41,029 tons of sulphur ore, phosphates and other raw material for the chemical trade.
In the 18th century it ranked next to Leith as a port, but the growth of Grangemouth, higher up the firth, seriously affected its shipping trade, which is, however, yet considerable, coal and pig-iron forming the principal exports, and pit props from the Baltic the leading import.
Some samples of ore, coal and limestone, obtained in the Mittagong district, with pig-iron and castings manufactured therefrom, were exhibited at the Mining Exhibition in London and obtained a first award.
The production of pig-iron nearly doubled between 1890 and 1900, increasing from 446,800 tons in the former year to 801,600 in the latter; but since 1900 the output has declined, the total for 1904 (inclusive of Siberia) being 644,000 tons.