Letters to the Editor


Building a collection

I have a project in hand whereby I am trying to compile a national database of all the bricks ever manufactured in Scotland. Scotland was once among the world leaders in brick production, especially refractory bricks. These bricks were exported all over the world.

I travel all over Scotland to look for old bricks which can be identified as Scottish by their brickmarks. I also recover variations on brickmarks – e.g. where the frog is a different shape, where the brickmark is laid out differently or is a different size etc – as these variations all indicate a different phase of production for the company concerned.

I will search old brickworks, derelict industrial sites, river banks, etc,but many as yet unrecorded or unrecovered bricks will be lying behind sheds or in a pile at the bottom of the garden.

The central belt of Scotland was a prolific brick producing location. This was due to the clay deposits discovered there. Clay deposits were found on their own and in conjunction with coal seams. Both the clay and the bing waste were used to make different types of bricks.

I am looking for bricks marked Vogrie, Smeaton, Edmonstone and Bonnyrigg from your area. I have some bricks already by these names but there are still many variations which I need to find. I believe there is only one recorded example of a Bonnyrigg brick and that was found in Russia! There will also be many others that are as yet unrecorded.

When I first started collecting three years ago the number of known recorded and listed Scottish brickmarks was around 350. I now have recorded over 1600 and the total grows every time I venture out.

I am also interested in saving any brickworks memorabilia as there is very little in existence. In the past weekly magazines were printed on the subject such as The Clay Worker and these too are sought as they hold valuable information, but alas there seem to be very few surviving

The bricks I recover, along with information on Scottish brickworks, are recorded on my website – www.scottishbrickhistory.co.uk

Eventually when I believe I cannot recover any more or my back gives out, I want to exhibit the collection and loan out bricks to schools and groups for talks and general interest purposes.

Many people do assist by contacting me when they find a local brick to them but the more eyes on the ground the better.

Brickmaking is a much-forgotten part of Scotland’s industrial and social history and all efforts should be made to preserve what we can of what is left.

Any assistance you could give to publicising this project would be gratefully received.

Mark Cranston


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