Aberhill Brickworks, Methil, Fife.

(Note – SBH – I find the information on the brickworks at Aberhill, Denbeath, Methil and Wemyss very confusing with regards names and locations that seem to swap and move! If anyone can clarify the situation for me or point out information that is perhaps listed wrongly against a particular brickworks then please get in touch).

Canmore – Methil Brickworks aka Aberhill.

Aberhill Brickworks, Methil, Fife AKA Methil Brickworks – Methil Brick Company.

Below – Many thanks to Ronald Gage for the following undated photograph of brick workers standing outside a kiln at the Aberhill Brickworks. Ronald states the Works opened in 1908, closed in 1952 and were demolished in 1976.

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In 1908, the Methil Brick Company bought from Bradley and Craven the following machinery.

1)     One 9ft Diameter Grinding Mill, No 1417   ( May 1908 )
2)     One Double Mixer, No 1418   ( June 1908 )
3)     As above, No 1426   ( Sep. 1908 )

Another 9ft diameter Grinding Mill was also bought, but there are no other details about it.

The works made common bricks ( Mr Henry Mitchell ), using “suitable redd” from the nearby Leven Pits.  In 1952 the works employed 30.  ( TSA, Fife, 1952, p.303 ).

The works are shown on the ordnance survey map of 1951 ( OS 1:2500,  shot no.  3700 Edn of 1951 ).  A round-ended continuous kiln is shown, and another brick kiln to the west of this.  A chimney was between the two kilns, which appear to have been covered by an open-sided building.

The machine wing lay south of the kilns, and a tramway led from them to the pit east of the works.

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(Note: – With regards to the entry below I believe some of the dates are wrong. I don’t think the works closed in 1964 and I also am not convinced about the 1976 date re the buildings being demolished. Likewise, I think the references to Lewis and Donald Rose are the wrong way round. I was sent this information but I have not been able to check it against the referenced newspaper title as it is not reproduced in the BNA to which I currently have access) – If anyone can clarify then please let me know. 

Methil Brick Company was a private works located at the top of Kinnarchie Brae, Aberhill, Methil …
A group of promoters meet on 29th January 1908 of which Mr Lewis C Rose was one, and in February 1908 a Registered Company was formed with a Registered office at the junction of the Link Road and Methilhaven Road…
In 1920 the works produced 6,000,000 bricks and the production was raised after World War 2 to 9,000,000 bricks …
The Managing Director’s salary was fixed at £200 per annum, out of which he was expected to provide his clerical assistant with her remuneration.
The Works was closed down in 1964 and the buildings demolished in July 1976, when the area was landscaped and trees and bushes planted on the cleared site …
Blae was brought to the works from the Leven Pit by means of hutches pushed along a narrow-gauge railway line …
Mr Donald Rose was the last Managing Director.
C. Extract from the “Leven Mail” dated 1963.

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There is also a suggestion from Tam Moffett that there was a very small run of bricks made with the mark “Aberhill” – they are now on the most wanted list!

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24/08/1907 – Fife Free Press – Bailie Rose is said to have fenced the triangular piece of ground to the east of Jordan Terrace, between the highway and the car line, for the erection of brickwork. The huge bing of pit blae will afford the new brickwork material sufficient to last for least twenty years.

25/09/1907 – Leven Advertiser – The Leven and Methil Brickwork Company have selected the site for their new brickwork. The site chosen is the patch of ground on the east side of the tramway opposite the redd bing on which the Company are to operate. The works will be connected with the bing by a subway or over-head bridge.

15/01/1908 – Leven Advertiser – Mr Donald Rose and the gentlemen associated with him propose making a commencement with the work of erecting the Aberhill Brickwork on an early date. It was intended at first that the works should be erected on the piece of ground to the east of the redd bing of Leven pits. As it is intended to operate upon the bing, the site had the objection of necessitating the bridging of the tramway line. The objection has been got over by the selection of a site immediately to the east of Jordan Terrace. Even here the works and bing will have to be connected by a bridge, but a structure crossing the highway which connects the Leven-Wemyss Road with Wellesley Road will not need to be so elaborate as a structure spanning the car line. The work of building the first Hoffman kiln is to be pushed forward with all possible speed, and the promoters expect being in a position to place bricks on the market early in the summer. It may be interesting to state that a series of experiments have been carried out in the way of brick making from the redd, and they have been thoroughly satisfactory. The bing is largely composed of fire clay, or blaes and is of the very nature calculated to turn out good bricks. In addition to the bing, the Company will be able to draw upon the blaes which are daily drawn from the pits, and which are cast into the Forth at Innerleven.

22/02/1908 – The Scotsman – New joint-stock companies – The Methil Brick Company, Leven to carry on the business as manufacturers of bricks, tiles etc and traders in minerals generally. Capital £8000 in shares of £1 each. The public is not invited to subscribe for shares.

15/04/1908 – Leven Advertiser – Methil Brickworks. Progress attends this new venture. Considering the recent wet weather, considerable progress has been made with the Hoffman kiln, and the chimney-stalk has now reached such a height as to make one feel that, looking from all the earths of the compass, another landmark has been erected on the high ground which overlooks the Forth. The Methil Brickwork Company are to operate on the blae redd heap of Leven pits. The Company have had the merits of the bing of blaes thoroughly tested, and the sample bricks they are able to show leave nothing to be desired. At present many of the bricks used for the new buildings are brought to Methil and district from works outwith the county of Fife, and everything points to the conclusion that the Methil Brickwork Company will at once drop into a large trade. The kiln and the machinery are all of the kind best calculated to turn out a good article. The management hopes to have the kiln ” reeking ” in the course of a couple or at most three months. Suction gas plant is being erected so that the power may be drawn from a powerful gas engine. The Company have an abundance of space for an additional kiln, and should the demand for bricks exceed the supply of one kiln, an extension by which the output will be doubled will be proceeded with without delay.

15/08/1908 – Fifeshire Advertiser – Methil – New work started – this week the brickwork at Aberhill for the Methil Brick Company was started. It is fitted with a Hoffman kiln of 14 chambers, each chamber capable of firing 13000 to 14000 bricks.

(Note:- the works were the brainchild of Mr Donald Rose and he was the first Managing Director)

14/07/1908 – Dundee Courier – Clerk or Clerkess wanted, good bookkeeper; a person who can do typewriting and shorthand preferred. Apply stating experience and salary to Methil Brick Co Ltd, Methil.

12/08/1908 – Leven Advertiser – Built on the crest of the Kinarchie Braes, the Methil Brickwork Company’s works form a landmark of the district. The chimney-stalk rises to a height of 120 feet above the highest point of the rising slopes, and the works cover a considerable area of ground. The directors are—Messrs Donald Rose (chairman and managing director); Robert Condie, draper, Methil; and John Farmer, builder, Methil; while Mr John T. Watson, solicitor, Leven, is secretary. The directors are thoroughly practical men, and they have taken care to fit up works which are thoroughly up-to-date in every department. The Hoffman kiln is a kiln of 14 chambers, each chamber being capable of burning as many as from 13,000 to 14,000 bricks. The works proper are roomy and well-appointed. Suction gas plant has been erected, and the engine house is occupied by a National Company’s gas engine of 150 horsepower. A Bradley and Craven grinding mill, and brick-making machine by the same engineers, have been introduced. With the one machine, it is computed that the daily output of bricks will be at least 12,000, but it is intended to introduce a second machine, so that the output may be raised to from 18,000 to 20,000 per day. In connection with a brickwork, an abundant supply of water is an important feature. As many as 500 gallons per hour may be required, and a supply drawn from the Fife Coal Company’s pits falls into a 7000-gallon storage and settling tank. From this underground tank, the water is raised to a wooden tank, which has a capacity of 1200 gallons. on the top of the works. All of the equipment is of the latest type, and every device is being introduced by way of reducing manual labour. Bogeys are run on narrow gauge rails front the delivery box of the brick-making machine to the kiln, and the Company intends to construct a conveyor under the roadway for conveying the material from the redd bins to the works. This gets over the difficulty of bridging the highway, or of laying a level crossing. On Thursday at noon, gas was turned on to the engine, and belts connected to the grinder and brickmaking machine. The engine worked beautifully and all the machinery in the producing department went away as smoothly as if the wheels had been going for weeks. The bricks turned out looked well. When Bailie Rose took a lease of the redd bing, he declared that the fire-clay would make bricks which builders of the district would like to handle. The sample bricks, which were on exhibition on the day operations commenced at the works, were all that could be desired. If the same quality is maintained—and we can see no reason why it should not—the success of the Methil Brickwork Company is assured. The Company have built offices on the side of the Leven Road to the north of the works.

16/01/1909 – Fifeshire advertiser – Terrible death – Leven – About noon on Thursday a youth named Boyle, Durie Street, Methil fell into the crusher at Methil Brickwork. A terrible but sudden death overtook him. Before the machinery was thrown out of gear, he was crushed beyond recognition. Boyle was just 15 years of age and he was employed along with his father and brother in feeding the mill from the redd bank.

23/01/1909 – St Andrews Citizen  – Boy decapitated. A dreadful end. A Methil boy named James Boyle, of Durie Street, employed Methil Brickwork, was decapitated while at work on Thursday last week. He was employed to mind a grinding machine having two iron rollers each 3 1/2 tons weight, which pulps the material used to make bricks. About 11 30 a.m., the lad, while lifting an iron plate, slipped and fell backwards under the grinding machine. He was caught up and whirled round, again and again, the roller each time triturating his body, just as it would have treated bricks and mortar until his head was severed from the body, his right arm was wrenched out, and his collar bone was broken. Horrible to tell, had the machinery not been stopped just in time, the fragments of his body would have been forced through a large sieve, carried up a shoot, and deposited in the brick making machine and mixed up with the bricks. The only witness of the accident was a labourer named Tom Baird, who was some distance away. He made haste to get to the spot, and applying a patent clutch, brought the grinder instantly to stop, but only to avert the dreadful after-consequences referred to. Dr Hunter was called in, merely to certify death. The lad’s father, John Boyle, is employed at the same works; he was overcome with emotion and had to be led away. Ex-Provost Rose and Bailie Farmer, two of the directors, were at once informed, and they ordered the works to be stopped for the day. The body was removed to Durie Street, Methil. Boyle was only 15 years old.

18/09/1909 – Fifeshire Advertiser – Methil Brickworks turn out as many as 21,000 bricks per day and most of these are used locally.

23/09/1909 – Dundee Courier – Methil Brick Co – at a meeting of the shareholders of Methil Brick Co accounts were submitted from the date of registration on 17/02/1908 to 31/09/1909. The net profit after deduction for preliminary expenses and depreciation amounted to £1101 2s 2 1/2d. The directors recommended a dividend of 15% per annum on the ordinary shares which amounted to £201 2s 2 1/2d. Captain Gordon was appointed as director and the chairman, Mr D Rose was re-elected.

Below – 07/05/1910 – Fifeshire Advertiser  – Dispute over Methil Brick Company bricks being used for Council property. Possible conflict of interest involving Bailie Rose.

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Below – 1913 – Methil Brickworks. (By 1947 the brickworks are not referenced at this location although the buildings are still detailed).

Methil Brickworks OS Map 1913

06/03/1915 – Edinburgh Evening News – Brick burner wanted at once – Apply Methil Brick Co Ltd, Methil.

09/12/1916 – The Scotsman – Clerkess wanted. Good bookkeeper. Apply with references and salary expected … to Methil Brick Company Ltd, Methil.

19/09/1917 – Dundee Courier – The directors of Methil Brickwork Company recommend a dividend of 10% for the year.

28/02/1922 – Dundee Courier – Major W.K.O Shepherd, DSO, Leven has in succession to his uncle been appointed as secretary to the Methil Brick Company Limited.

Below – 13/10/1923 – Dundee Courier – Prosecution of hiring young persons beyond the legal time period governed by the Factory and Workshop Act 1901.

12/05/1925 – Dundee Evening Telegraph –  Thomas Paterson, engine driver, 90a West High Street, Buckhaven, was at Cupar Sheriff Court today fined 40s for having at the railway sidings at Methil brickworks and Leven collieries, maliciously cut and destroyed parts of eight railway covers and stolen them, the property of the L and N-E. Railway Company.

31/10/1925 – Fife Free Press –  Builder Injured. Mr Geo. Kinnear, builder. Lundin Links, was, on Saturday, seriously injured by the caving of part of a Melhil Brickwork kiln. He was covered in the hot debris, which severely burned his head and shoulders. He was removed to Wemyss Hospital.

10/01/1928 – Dundee Evening Telegraph – Admitting a charge of stealing 56lbs or thereby of coal from Methil Brickwork, Aberhill on 7th January, Robert Murray, pedlar, 8 Jordan Terrace, Methil was fined 10s at Cupar Sheriff Court today.

Below – 18/06/1931 – Dundee Courier –

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20/02/1933 – Dundee Evening Telegraph – Two cargoes of bricks from Methil Brickworks were also loaded recently (Methil Docks), the SS Constance of Leith taking 130 tons to Fraserburgh and the SS Wheatblade of Cardiff loaded for the North of Scotland …

27/05/1933 – Fife Free Press – Donald Rose was born in 1863 and died in May 1933. Donald Rose founded the Methil Brick Company and was  Managing Director of the Company from its inception.  Mr Rose had been at the head of the company’s affairs since it began in 1908 and has carried out its duties with great credit. Under his capable guidance, the concern has become one of the most important of its kind in Fife. He also acquired the Armadale Brick Company with which is associated a coal mine and fireclay works… His death was greatly regretted by the shareholders, it was unanimously agreed to appoint Louis ( Lewis ?)  C Rose chairman of the Directors.

Local demand for bricks in October 1933 was very good. The company had also been successful in securing contracts outside of Fife, which kept the works going full-time over the year.  Because of this bonuses were paid for man £15 – Clerk £5 – Clerkess £3.

01/09/1933 – Dundee Courier – Angus and Fife Estate – Donald Rose, Brick Manufacturer, Glenthorne, Methil – £26,186 1s 4d.

01/01/1934 – Dundee Courier  … During 1933 many vessels loaded cargoes of bricks at Methil destined for housing schemes in the North of Scotland …

20/01/1934 – Fife Free Press – Accident at Methil Brick Company. John English(16) caught his hand in machinery and had to have it amputated.

24/08/1935 – Fife Free Press – Graduated – Mr John McIntosh, secretary of the Methil Brick Company has graduated Bachelor of Commerce.

19/02/1938 – Fife Free Press – 3 men are caught stealing coal from waggons belonging to the Methil Brick Company while they sat in a siding near Aberhill School.

20/01/1940 – Dundee Evening Telegraph – Wemyss Red Cross- £5 donation by Methil Brickworks.

25/05/1940 – Fife Free Press –  Theft of 8 1/2 cwt of scrap from the mineral railway belonging to the Methil Brickwork Company.

Below – 11/03/1944 – Fife free Press – Methil Brick Co Ltd fined for employing a young person.

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10/06/1944 – Fife Free Press – A charge of leaving his employment with Methil Brick Coy without permission in writing of a National Service Officer was preferred against James Stevenson, Labourer, 59 Whyterose Terrace, Aberhill. He pleaded guilty and was fined 30s.

Below- 08/08/1945 – Brick shortage. Methil Brick Company have been working half time for 3 years ( resource issues due to men at war). Possibility of Kincaple Brickworks starting up?

21/12/1946 – Fifeshire Advertiser  – Kirkcaldy hauliers are granted permits … a Methil contractor, who was granted for a 2 1/2 ton van to carry agricultural produce and requisites within a radius of 10 miles, building and road material within a radius of 15 miles and bricks from Methil Brickmaking Co within a radius of 20 miles, claimed that bricks made at Methil and intended for Tayport were diverted to Inverness by rail, because road hauliers wouldn’t or couldn’t come in for them … the brickworks at Methil had asked him to carry bricks to Tayport but he had refused …

Below – 23/05/1947 – Dundee Evening telegraph. Theft of 11 1/2 tons of coal from Methil Brickworks.

Below – 28/06/1947 – Fifeshire advertiser – The death occurred suddenly at his home on Saturday afternoon of Mr Williamson, foreman at the Methil Brick Company between 1928 and 1947.

10/07/1948 – Fife Free Press – Unsightly – The unsightliness of a heap of redd for the production of bricks, which is accumulating outside the brickworks at Aberhill. Methil was strongly condemned by Provost William Slater, Methil, at the monthly meeting of Buckhaven and Methil Town Council on Wednesday. “Just when we are trying to tidy the burgh we are faced with another unsightly monument,” he said. “I know we must produce bricks, but surely it is not necessary to have such a hideous heap of stuff.” The matter is to be investigated by the Public Health committee who are also protesting to the National Coal Board because the bing at Wellesley is again burning and discharging fumes.

27/12/1949 – The Scotsman – Transformer – Vickers 150 kva, 6600/440 volts. Also Berry’s transformer, 10 kva, 12000/250 volts for immediate disposal. Offers after inspection. Methil Brick Company Ltd, Methil.

22/07/1950 – St Andrews Citizen – Brick shortage for the Dunedin Housing Scheme … the Department of Health have been in communication with the Methil Brick Company and are informed that they are endeavouring to supply one load per day to the Alliance Construction Company. An inquiry might be made at the National Coal Board, Cowdenbeath for supplies as the increased cost of the Lochside or Alloa bricks would appear to be related to the haulage costs from these areas …

28/07/1951 – Fife Free Press – Fatal accident enquiry at Methil Brick Company following the death of James Baxter (77) who was struck on the head by a moving belt which was driving a brick making machine.

Below – 10/11/1951 – Fife Free Press – Methil Brick Company seeking to use material from the Pannie bing to make bricks.

22/03/1952 – St Andrews Citizen – Methil Brick Co Ltd applied for planning permission to use material from the coal bing at Raderne for the manufacture of bricks. Permission was unanimously granted, several members commenting that the removal of the bing would be an improvement on the landscape.

Below – 17/04/1952 – Dundee Courier – Methil Brick Co Ltd shares for sale.

18/07/1953 – Fife Free Press – Leven development plan – makes reference to the need to remove the Wemyss Estate Railway which supplies material to the Methil Brick Company. It was unsightly and it prevented the integration of the expanding built-up areas of Methil and Methilhill.

18/07/1953 – Fifeshire Advertiser – Methil Brick Company object to the proposal to remove the Wemyss  Estate Railway. However, it was said that the railway was only used once per day to carry bing material to the brickworks and as such an alternative method of transport should be easily got.

Below – 18/09/1954– Fife Free Press – Methil Brick Company continue to remove the Pannie bing as they continue to manufacture bricks from the waste.

15/01/1955 – Fife Free Press –  David McCluskey, Lorry driver,  appears in Court for stealing 3500 bricks from Methil Brick Company. £3 fine or 20 days. The bricks were seconds and he received £8 10s for them. The bricks were recovered.

05/11/1955 – Fifeshire Advertiser – 2 girls aged 18 and 19 involved in a fight at a hut owned by the Methil Brick Company Limited. Both were setters. One girl was charged with assault and fined 10s or alternatively 5 days.

1908 – 1978 – Methil Brick Company Limited. Company No. 6751. Date of Incorporation: 1908. Date of Dissolution: 1 Mar 1979. Nature of Business: Brick and tile manufacturers.
Registered Office: Jordan Terrace, Aberhill, Methil, Fife.

Below – Jordan Terrace and Methil Brickworks, Aberhill with Herriot Crescent in background. (date unknown).

Methil Brickworks Aberhill

(Note  – SBH – Please also see this page which is the earlier Methil Brickworks)

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