Many thanks to Shayne Campbell, President & Executive Director Settlers, Rials & Trails – Argyle Museum, for permission to use the photographs of their Scottish bricks. The following bricks are in the possession of the Argyle Museum, Winnipeg, Canada. The bricks were obtained from a junkyard in Winnipeg and are believed to have been salvaged…
Atlas Brickworks, Bathville, Armadale, West Lothian
These works were situated directly East of the Etna Brickworks and they are the older of the two. It was started by Robert Fleming of Coatbridge and Mr Kopel Moritz.
1882 – Fleming & Moritz, Brick and Tile Maker, Atlas and Armadale Brickworks, Bathgate.
05/01/1885 – Aberdeen Free Press – Aberdeen Town Council. Gasworks contract …The Gas Committee have accepted the following tenders for the supply of materials in connection with the undertaking for the ending 31st December 1885 … fire clay goods – Garnkirk Fire-Clay Company and J. & C. Grieve. The committee had also before them tenders for the lightning conductor, and for the supply of circle and header bricks for the new chimney stalk, and authorised the gas treasurer to accept the following: Bricks – Robert Fleming and Co. (Atlas or Calder Fire Clay Works?)
Below – 1886 – Robert Fleming & Co, Atlas Fire Brick Works.
04/02/1888 – Falkirk Herald – Action for damages – Thomas Crawford, farmer Bathville, Armadale raises an action for compensation for damages suffered in 1887 to his grass, turnip and stock upon his farm as caused by Robert Fleming & Co, Atlas Brickworks, Armadale. He wins the case and damages and expenses to the sum of £9 5s are awarded.
Below – 1889 – Robert Fleming and Co. Atlas Fire Brick Works, Calder and Carnbroe Brickworks.
1890 -91 – Atlas Fireclay Co, manufacturers of furnace blocks and fireclay bricks. Office Calder by Coatbridge. Works Calder, Carnbroe and Bathville.
1892 – 1895 – Invoices – Robert Fleming and Coy, Coatbridge. Atlas fire brick, furnace block, gas retort, chimney can and paving tile makers.
1892 – ? Office Calder.
? – 1894/1895. Office Carnbroe
1895 – ?. Office Bathville.
Below – 1893 – Advert – Robert Fleming Atlas Firebrick works Atlas Calder Carnbroe.
1893 – 1897 – Invoices – The Calder Fireclay Company by Coatbridge, fire brick, furnace block, gas retort, chimney can and paving tile makers. Office Calder. One dated 02/03/1893 is stamped in red along the top ” Late Robert Fleming and Co”.
1893 – 1894 – Fleming & Moritz, brick and tile manufacturers, Atlas and Armadale Brickworks. (Note – SBH – So which Mr Moritz was in partnership with Fleming? – Kopel Moritz died in 1889. If it was Kopels son Arthur then from the info above he would have only been aged 16 – 17 years old in 1893 – 1894. Perhaps Fleming just kept the old partnership name while being the sole individual partner until his own death prior to 02/3/1893).
1893 – 1894 – Jas Wood, Etna and Atlas Brickworks, Bathville, Armadale Station, Linlithgowshire; office, 28 Royal Exchange Square.
25/03/1893 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Patrick Duffy, brickmaker, Bathville charged with assaulting Helen Hempseed, brickworker, Armadale by compressing her throat and striking her head against a wall. He was found guilty and fined £2 or 3 weeks imprisonment.
07/12/1894 – Glasgow Herald – Fire brick maker (good) wanted. Constant work to a steady man – Apply Foreman, Atlas Brickworks, Armadale, Bathgate.
21/06/1895 – Glasgow Herald – Moulder wanted for Atlas Fire Brick Works, Armadale. Constant work for a good man. Apply Manager at the works.
Below – 1896 – Atlas Brickworks.
07/11/1896 – Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser – Glasgow Royal Infirmary – Contributors include Jas Wood Limited Etna and Atlas Brickworks, Bathville – £3 15s.
14/09/1899 – Glasgow Herald – Brick moulder wanted. Constant work – Apply Foreman Atlas Fire Brick Works, Armadale, Linlithgowshire.
05/10/1900 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Wanted, a few women and girls at Atlas Brickworks. Good wages and constant work. Apply to the foreman.
Below – 26/10/1900 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – A history of brickworks in the Bathgate, West Lothian area.
One of the most important of our local industries is that of brick making. Quite a number of works, some of them of considerable dimensions, are devoted to this branch of trade, and it would astonish our readers were they told of the vast quantity of bricks which weekly leave this district. That the industry is flourishing in a most remarkable degree is evidenced by the many extensions carried through at most of our local brickworks in recent years and certainly, within the last ten years, the progress made has been enormous. There have been one or two local factors which have lent themselves this increase. There is, for instance, an abundance of clay of a suitable character; then the presence of so many collieries the district makes this a particularly good field for brick making; and not the least of the factors which have contributed to the success of the industry has been the enterprise displayed by the various firms which devote themselves to this class of business. Brick making appliances play so large a part the manufacture of bricks that, in comparison to the large output of material, the number of hands employed is small, yet when we take into account the number and the extent of the brickworks in this neighbourhood, and the very large business which is done, the number of workers, male and female, engaged in this particular branch of trade run into many hundreds. The oldest brickwork in the district is that owned by Messrs Robertson, Love, and Co., it having been in existence for nearly 30 years. Robert Muir and Co. had also an old brickwork before they started their present one. Boghead Brickworks were erected by Mr Gillies of Boghead, and the works were originally used in the manufacture of fire brick and ground fireclay. Years ago the business changed hands, Mr Gillies parting with it to the Boghead Fireclay Company. It was then a small concern, but to meet the growing demands of trade this firm were obliged to considerably enlarge it. They afterwards sold the works to Messrs Dickson and Mann, who a few years later disposed of it to the present proprietors, Messrs Muir and Co. As the demand for the bricks produced in the works continued to grow, a further large addition had to be made, and yet another is in progress. The enterprising firm of Messrs Muir and Co. are, we learn, also making preparations for turning out at these works composition bricks, in addition to those classes bricks presently produced. The works at Bathville owned by James Wood and Co., are of vast dimensions and are divided into two portions, the Atlas and the Etna Brickworks. The Atlas Works are entirely devoted to the manufacture of firebricks, while at the Etna Works composition bricks are produced. An idea will be had of the extent of these works when it is stated that they cover nearly twenty acres of land. In the Etna Works, some 100 hands are employed, while at the Atlas Works there are about 50 workers. At both works, the firm could employ many more hands, but at present, when the trade is so busy, brick workers are not to be got. The Atlas Brickwork is the older of the two. It was begun in a small way a good many years ago by Mr Robert Fleming of Coatbridge, who had as a partner Mr Kopel Moritz. The latter subsequently dropped out of the partnership and removed to the Armadale Brickworks. He continued to be associated with those works till his death, after which the works wore acquired by Mr W. D Samuel and Mr Robert Muir, the present managing directors and original partners of Robert Muir and Co., Ltd., who own Armadale, Barbauchlaw and Boghead Brickworks, and whose fireclay and firebrick products are exported in large quantities to Singapore, Rangoon, Durban, Delagoa Bay, etc. Mr Fleming carried on the Atlas Works himself for some years after the dissolution of his partnership and on his death, the business was acquired from his trustees by Mr Wood of Bathville. Mr Wood threw into the concern considerable enterprise and business ability. He considerably developed the trade and not only made extensive enlargements at the Atlas Works but on his adjoining ground, he erected the Etna Works. Both works are fitted with the latest machinery and improved appliances for the manufacture of all kinds of bricks, and a very large and rapidly growing business is done by the firm. James Wood, Ltd., have their two works fully employed, so far as labour is to be had, in the production bricks alike for the home and export trade. It would be divulging what the firm might regard as trade secret were we to state the average weight of the bricks which weekly leave their works. It is enough to say that weekly production is enormous and that it is continually increasing. The firm’s products find their way into almost all parts of the world. The firm have good agencies and a splendid connection abroad, and firebricks and ground fireclay are largely exported to Bombay, Calcutta, and elsewhere. As illustrating the advancement made in the method of brick making, it may be mentioned that the kilns now used for the manufacture of composition bricks are those of the continuous Hoffman principle, whereby immense heat is transferred from one chamber to another, and an immense saving of coal is ensured. In the older brickworks in tho district, the Newcastle kilns are still in operation for making firebricks. With these kilns, makers have to make their bricks and dry them in a shed with whatever heat they can get. If steam is employed, it is let underneath the kilns by flues, and the heated air dries the bricks. Under the new Hoffman kiln system, however, the bricks are simply taken from the machine and put into the kilns and the hot air follows gradually around. After the brick chamber is emptied it is immediately filled with fresh or green bricks and the heated air from the burning chambers is conducted round in flues underneath the floor of the kilns. By the new method, the bricks are of course quicker and better made. The fireclay comes from the pits in ‘trips’ and the workmen empty it on to a travelling table and hence into a grinding mill. The clay is then lifted from the pit under the grinding mill by elevators up to the sifting loft. Then it goes through sieves, travels down a shoot to the mixer, where there is a constant stream of water flowing and where by means of knives attached to the machine the clay is mixed and pressed into the brick making machine. The clay comes from this machine as a perfect brick. Thereafter the bricks are placed in the Hoffman kiln and in 14 days time they have taken the form of the first-class commercial article ready for market. It will be seen what a revolution this improved method of brick making must have wrought in the brick making trade when it is mentioned that under the old system in good weather, 14 days were required to dry the hand made brick, while 14 more days were occupied in the burning of it. At present an addition consisting of a large drying shed of considerable dimensions is being made to the Etna Works and this addition, when completed, will permit of a greater output of material and lead to the employment of additional hands. The works are managed by Mr Findlay who succeeded the late manager, Mr Hugh Dunlop, who had been connected with the works from the start and who died a few months ago. We can only mention the other brickworks in the district. That belonging to Robertson Love and Co is prospering like others. Mr John Nimmo and Sons have done a fair business at their works while the Armadale Coal Company have kilns in the course of construction for a large new brickwork. The possibilities of the brick making trade of our district are very great. Situated as Bathgate is almost equidistant between our 2 great commercial cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and on the mainline of the railway, there is every certainty that this industry has a bright future. Its growth has been rapid but it is only still in its infancy. When the present factors which are tending to so greatly to depress the building trade have been removed and when the money market is such that it will permit the speculative builder to build as before, the trade will come away with an almost unprecedented boom and much of the new business will naturally come to this district. It is therefore not to be wondered at that some firms are, in anticipation of this demand, enlarging their works and further additions may be anticipated. From a calculation made by a gentleman immediately associated with the trade, some 120,000 composition bricks leave the brickworks in this district daily.
22/01/1902 – The Scotsman (I am uncertain which Armadale Brickworks this article refers to but I have included it here so that it does not go unmissed!) – For sale belonging to the executry estate of the late Mr Marshall, contractor. Portable engine at no 9 pit, Armadale, bricks large quantity, Fireclay pipes large quantity and various sizes, whinstone sets and couplings, freestone jambs, pan mill at new brickwork, Armadale. Bricks (40,000 already cleaned at No 8 Pit, freestone large quantity not including iron. The articles will be shown to enquirers Mr David Sclater, Clerk of Works, Uphall.
Below – 21/03/1902 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – An article discusses the Boghead, Bathville, South Broadrigg, Etna and Atlas Brickworks of West Lothian.
11/06/1902 – Kirkintilloch Herald – Proposed Scottish coal combine – So far as evidence goes (writes a mining correspondent) the rumour of a Scottish coal combination is not without foundation. Representatives interested in such a trust are systematically visiting, for valuation purposes, the collieries of those firms who might be disposed to consider the formation of such an amalgamation. Combine visited the collieries of Messrs Jas. Wood, Ltd., in Armadale district. The pits owned by this firm in Armadale district, of which a valuation was taken, together with the siding accommodation belonging to the firm, are as follows;—No. 2 and No. 7 Northrigg, Nos. 2, 5, and 8 Polkemmot, and No. 4 Hartrigg and Colinshiels Pit, while they own Drumpellier Pit, Coatbridge; Meiklehill, Kirkintilloch: and Neilston, Kilsyth. The firm also owns Atlas and Etna Brickworks, which have a large output.
01/07/1902 – Dundee Evening Telegraph – The Scottish Coal Combine – Today the various collieries and brickworks belonging to Messrs James Wood Limited and the collieries belonging to the Armadale Coal Company will be formally handed over to the syndicate known as the Scottish Coal Combination. Yesterday representatives from the Glasgow office of the combination for stock-taking purposes made a survey of the whole material on hand, furnishings and coal etc, exclusive of the working colliery plant at the different collieries, along with the coal foremen. Messrs James Wood Limited own the following collieries in Armadale district: No 2, No 8, No 6 pits, Polkemmet, No 4 Hartrigg, Nos 2 and 7 Northrigg and Colinshills and also the well known Atlas and Etna Brickworks. They further own Drumpelier Colliery, Coatbridge, Meiklehill, Kirkintilloch, and Neilston Colliery Kilsyth. They employ over a thousand men in Armadale district. The Armadale Coal Company own the 2 pits Nos 17 and 23 Buttness.
02/05/1905 – Edinburgh Evening News – Labourers wanted – Apply Topping, Atlas Brickworks, Armadale.
Below- 19/06/1908 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – United Collieries Limited per the Atlas Brickworks, Armadale sued in court for damages after a 16-year-old youth was scalded.
17/07/1908 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – The holidays started at Dickson and Manns works on Wednesday, and will continue till Tuesday, 28th. The Etna Brickworks are only to be closed for four days, but the Atlas is to have three weeks, and the collieries will be closed from the 16th to the 27th.
Below – 27/08/1909 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Etna and Atlas Brickworks excursion to Portobello.
12/09/1909 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Etna and Atlas Brickworks export to Canada … there is a large order for a million bricks that is being shipped from Etna and Atlas brickworks to Canada that is taking up all the extra wagons. When this order has been discharged more waggons will be had for coal …
Below – 21/10/1910 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Death of Duncan Richmond former manager of the Atlas and Etna Brickworks, Bathville. He started work at the sites around 1885.
Below – 25/08/1911 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Drought causes local firms to unite in order to construct a pipeline to bring in water – United Collieries, Etna and Atlas Brickworks, Robertson and Loves Pipe and Can Works. Robert Muir and Co’s works at Boghead Brickworks will be disadvantaged as they will not be connected to this new supply but their Armadale Barbauchlaw Works may be able to secure a supply of water from their own resources.
07/05/1915 – Dundee Courier – Wanted – 2 fire brick moulders, steady work, good wages, every encouragement given to suitable men. Apply Manager, Atlas Brickworks, Armadale, West Lothian.
08/05/1915 – Dundee Courier – Panmillman wanted for wet pans; steady work, good wages; every encouragement given to a suitable man. Apply manager, Atlas Brickworks, Armadale, West Lothian.
17/03/1916 – West Lothian Courier – Tribunals – Bathgate … The United Collieries, Ltd. appealed for three workers—James Mclntosh, Lower Bathville, Atlas Brickworks; James Stewart, Meadowhead, Bathgate, kiln burner and Samuel Evans, fireman and engine driver. McIntosh was granted a conditional exemption, Stewart was exempted for three months, and Evans exempted for one month. Mr Leckie, Glasgow, who appeared for the Company, said that of 100 men serving before the war 20 had joined the colours. They were having great difficulty in getting Government orders executed.
21/03/1916 – Daily Record – Men wanted immediately for temporary employment during this week discharging magnesite from wagons on to the ground; 6d per ton will be paid each man as soon as wagons are emptied … The Eglinton Silica Brick Co Ltd., Atlas Brickworks, Armadale.
03/06/1921 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Public works coming to a complete stand – Week after week one public work after another is compelled to shut down for want of fuel. First the Atlas Steel Foundry had to close down, then Messrs R. Muir and Co,’s brickworks, and next Messrs Robertson and Love’s fireclay pipe and can works, and lastly Messrs Dickson and Mann, Ltd., have had to close their steel foundry, and the Etna and Atlas brickworks, which were well stocked, to begin with, have now also had to shut down for want of coal. Messrs Dickson and Mann could probably have held out little longer as far as fuel is concerned, but the opportunity is being taken to make some desirable repairs on the furnace. They are still carrying on their engineering shops, and the United Collieries are able to carry on their machine shops and wagon building shops, being little fuel required with them. All the chimney stacks being now smokeless, the air is pure that one can’t help commenting what a blessing it would be to humanity if the air pollution by smoke could be entirely eliminated. It’s a poor misfortune that does not yield some compensation.
02/10/1925 – West Lothian Courier – A friend of Andrew Carnegie. On Wednesday afternoon the funeral of Mr Robert King. Craigpark took place at Torphichen Church Yard … Mr King, who died on Friday last, had reached a ripe old age. In his earlier years, he was well-known in the Armada!e district, where he resided at Woodlands and was the manager in the Bathville Brickworks. About twenty years ago he took up his residence in Torphichen where he has since remained … Mr King and his brothers enjoyed in a peculiar degree the friendship of the Late Mr Andrew Carnegie and his wife, with whom they were on intimate terms. A brother and a brother’s widow it may be remembered benefited considerably under Sir Carnegie’s will. Returning home, some forty-odd years ago, Mr King married, his brother-in-law being Mr James Wood of Wallbouse, with some of whose many activities he was associated during the rest of his life, acting latterly as manager of the Atlas Brick and Tile Works at Springburn in Glasgow from which position he retired some six years … (Note – SBH – I am uncertain as to the relationship between the Atlas Brickworks and Springburn, Glasgow).
Below – 1929 – Etna and Atlas Brickworks from the air.
02/12/1931 – Falkirk Herald – West Lothian Industries – Promising Revival in Brickmaking and Hosiery.