Atlas Brickworks, Bathville, Armadale, West Lothian

Atlas Brickworks, Bathville, Armadale, West Lothian

Canmore

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.

Info

1882 – Fleming & Moritz, Brick and Tile Maker, Atlas and Armadale Brickworks, Bathgate.

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.

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.

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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.

A promising revival in certain industries in West Lothian is reported notably to the manufacture of bricks and hosiery.  One of the busiest places in the country at the moment is the Etna Brick Works, at Armadale, belonging to the United Collieries Ltd.  An official stated that there had been a sudden revival of trade, and they were supplying the demand as it occurred.  A few weeks ago the daily output of bricks from the works was 25,000, and last week the figure was almost 55,000.  Not only has the spurt to the industry been responsible for the employment of additional men, but it has also been found necessary to put on a night-shift.  A large number of the bricks have been sent to Glasgow for housing achievement.  This output of bricks is regarded as a really high for a brickwork in the provisional housing schemes in progress in West Lothian are being supplied.  The prospect of the brick trade is promising.  At the company’s other brickworks at Bathville, the employees are also busy.
Another brickworks at Barbauchlaw, Armadale, belonging to Robert Muir & Co (1930). Ltd., have also doubled their output and business has been much better during the past five weeks.  They chiefly export bricks to Canada, South Africa, and India.  The employees are working extra time, and the output has been greatly facilitated by the installation of new plant.  There has been a large demand for bricks from the East of Scotland.  These works are associated with a concern in Fife, which is also working for steam ahead.
The prospects in the hosiery trades are higher than ever.  Mr James Livingstone, the chairman of the West Lothian Hosiery Factory, Ltd., stated that fancy hosiery manufacturing was very busy, and if the manufacturers of this particular brand of hose were successful in their efforts for the tariff the result would be advantageous and the factories in the county would be going full steam ahead.  He stated that although Bathgate and Bo’ness hosieries orders were being executed for German clients, and there was plenty of work in hand for the next three or four months.  Within a recent week, the boom had been so satisfactory that 120 extra hands had been taken on at Bathgate and 40 at Bo’ness.
So long as the staple industries such as shipbuilding, engineering and electrical manufacturing are suffering from depression, the steel and iron foundries in West Lothian will be affected.  According to Mr James Watt, of the Atlas Steel, Armadale, it was very difficult to make a prediction regarding the future of the industry in the County.  About a month ago there was a spurt in business, but at the end of last week a lull occurred, but it was coming away this week.  It was much better at the moment than it had been, and all that was required was a new confidence.  the iron trade, he said, had been badly hit.  On enquiry at the works of Messrs George Wolfe & Sons, Ltd., shovel manufacturers it was reported that there had been an improvement in business since the General Election.  Their chief manufactures were shovels and rolled steel. They have six employees, and the policy of the firm has been to keep the works going at full time.
29/10/1937 –  Linlithgowshire Gazette – Fatal accident enquiry. Robert Wood Apprentice Electric linesman, 21 Park Terrace, Armadale was electrocuted on 11/09/1937 at the Atlas Brickworks owned by United Collieries Ltd. After the hearing, a formal verdict was returned.
11/02/1938 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – United Collieries Ltd, Bathville Brickworks, Armadale  (See entry above – was it Bathville or Atlas!) were charged with negligence after the electrocution of Robert Wood.  After the hearing, the firm were found not guilty.
Below – 1938 – Atlas Fire Brick Works.
Below – 1944 – 1969 – Atlas Fire Brick Works.
1947 – United Fireclay Products Limited comprised of the Etna and Atlas Firebrick Works, The Bathville Pipe Works, the UNICOL Tile Works, all at Armadale and the Brownhill building brickworks at Clelland, Lanarkshire.  Lower demand for refractories led to the Etna Works being converted to making building bricks under the ETNA brand and the closure of the Atlas Works in 1973.
14/08/1970 – West Lothian Courier – Armadale Pipeworks to close down but the effect is cushioned. The closure of Bathville Pipe Works on August 31 could mean as many as 20 people becoming redundant. The company, United Fireclay Products Ltd., are making every effort to accommodate elsewhere the 48 workers who will lose their jobs as a result of the closure and it seems certain that the figure of 20 left jobless will not be exceeded if in fact it is reached. The company as a whole employs almost 400 people so that the redundancy figure is looked upon by the company as minimal. This was said by Mr James Smith, managing director of United Fireclay Products Ltd. who added that the decision to close the Pipe Works was taken only after a review of future market prospects in relation to the overall capacity for pipe production in the United Kingdom. Announcing the intended closure, Mr Smith emphasised. “The fact that Bathville Pipe Works is closing down does not mean that the whole company is dosing down. Indeed, United Fireclay Products. Ltd., incorporating as it does the Atlas and West Fire refractories and fire clay works and the Etna and Brown Hill building brickworks is thriving, with a big expansion programme planned which could mean even more jobs gained than those lost by the present closure. Atlas, for example, is a factory for the high-temperature industries. We supply the big steelworks in this country and we have a substantial export trade to Europe, particularly Holland. Atlas make not only fire bricks from clay from local mines but also refractories from imported materials. People associate the name of Bathville with all our efforts and when they hear the Bathville Pipe Works is closing they may well feel that that means the end of everything. They forget that the Pipe Works is only part of a complex. The managing director added that he had seen personally all concerned putting them in the picture and assuring those not affected by the closure that they had no need to worry about the future. This was followed up with a personal letter to each employee. Although the news is not as bad as it appeared at first, there will nevertheless be a feeling of real sorrow in Armadale that Bathgate Pipe Works, for so many years a feature of life in the town, will be no more.
1973 – The 1985 publication ‘A survey of Scottish brickmarks’ suggests the works closed in 1973.
(Note – SBH – According to the Survey of Scottish Brickmarks published in 1986, the Atlas brickworks stamped bricks ‘Atlas Great Britain’ and ‘Atlas Stirling’ and as far as I am aware neither of these stamped bricks have been found and recorded).
Below – The Scottish Industrial Archaeology Survey published a report in 1985 entitled ” A survey of Scottish brickmarks. During the compilation of this report in which the survey officers visited working and derelict brickworks sites, many items of interest were donated or found. Many of these items were thereafter donated to the National Museum Scotland. The item below is one of these items. A brass stamping plate marked ‘Atlas 60’
Below – The Scottish Industrial Archaeology Survey published a report in 1985 entitled ” A survey of Scottish brickmarks. During the compilation of this report in which the survey officers visited working and derelict brickworks sites, many items of interest were donated or found. Many of these items were thereafter donated to the National Museum Scotland. The item below is one of these items. A bundle of stencils used to mark the destinations on wooden shipping crates eg, Quebec, Trinidad, Shanghai, Montevideo. There is also a ‘Made in Scotland’ stencil.  Found at the Atlas Works.
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