Bathville Brick and Fire Clay Works, Armadale, West Lothian

Bathville Brick and Fire Clay Works, Armadale, West Lothian.


John Watson of Glasgow bought the Bathville site in June 1859 for £10,000 and shortly after built a brickworks to use the fireclay being mined with the coal. John Watson & Co were to become one of the biggest coalmasters in Lanarkshire, but in 1874 they ran into financial trouble and the Bathville works were sold to James Wood, another coalmaster. James and William Wood formed James Wood Ltd in 1893 to take over their interests in Drumpellier, Westrigg, Neilston and Meiklehill Collieries, together with the Bathville Brickworks. Financial trouble in 1895 resulted in James and William Wood having their estates sequestrated, however, James Wood recovered and in 1897 joined Daniel Robertson, a firebrick maker at Bathgate, to incorporate Robertson, Love & Co Ltd., with a capital of £6,000.

A sales catalogue of about 1900 shows a picture of the Bathville Brick and Fireclay Works with 2 substantial groups of buildings served by 4 railway sidings. 6 large and 4 smaller chimneys draw the gases from several beehive kilns and 3 continuous Hoffmann kilns. A wide range of firebricks, sewage pipes and decorated chimney pots are shown.

United Collieries Ltd was formed in 1898 to amalgamate 9 collieries and a further 23 collieries were added in 1902, among which was James Wood Ltd with Robertson, Love & Co Brickworks subsidiary. The capital of the group was £2 million, a very large sum. Among the companies amalgamated was the Glasgow Iron and Steel Company of Clydesdale and Calderbank, who after the nationalisation of their steel interests were to become one of the largest brickmakers in Scotland in the 1980s.

Robertson, Love & Co were liquidated in 1916 but continued to make firebricks as part of United Collieries Ltd. When coal was nationalised in 1947, the brickworks were reorganised as United Fireclay Products Ltd. and comprised 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. The chief refractory brands were Etna (33% alumina), Atlas (38% alumina), and Atlas A (42% alumina), all based on local fire clays. The Bents Mine near Stoneyburn supplied an excellent 42% alumina fireclay from which the Mars brand was made, but the fireclay was worked out and the mine closed in 1929. The Drum Mine near East Whitburn took over and the Northrigg No 7 pit supplied fireclay for pipes and some coal. The Tippethill Mine (38% alumina, 2.5% iron) replaced the Drum Mine in 1960 and the Pottishaw Mine replaced Northrigg in 1963.

Woodall – Duckham bought United Fireclay Products Ltd in 1957 to secure their source of fireclay shapes for gas retorts. The modern West Works was started in 1960 with a 400-foot tunnel kiln. Heathfield & Cardowan Pipeworks Ltd was bought in 1968 and at that time the Company was at its largest capacity, employing about 600 men and women. Demand for pipes fell due to competition from plastic pipes and the Bathville Pipe Works was closed in 1970. Lower demand for refractories led to the Etna works being converted to make building bricks under the Etna brand and the closure of the Atlas Works in 1973. The Company had again changed hands being bought by the Gibbons Dudley Ltd for £715,000 in March 1971. As refractory demand fell further the Company was bought by Steetley Ltd in 1981, who changed the West Works into a facing brickworks and sold the Etna and Brownhill Works to GISCOL Ltd. (Source The Scottish Refractory Industry 1830 – 1980 – Kenneth W Sanderson).

Source  – John Watson was a Lanarkshire coalmaster who during the 1850s leased minerals at the Bathville area, lying at the eastern edge of the Boghead coalfield. Here steam coal, ironstone, and clay shales were worked along with the Boghead gas coal. Watson purchased the Bathville estate in 1859.,

John Watson died in 1864, by which time the firm was trading as John Watson & Sons. The same year saw the expiry of James Young’s licence which had governed oil production from cannel coal, and the Watson brothers were quick to construct the Bathville oil works, where a range of oil products were produced which carried the kudos of being manufactured from the famous Boghead coal.

Edinburgh merchants W. & .H. Potts marketed Watson’s oils throughout Scotland, and efforts were made to appoint sales agents in England. Oil production appears to have ceased in about 1871, although the industrial complex at Bathville continued to have developed with various pits, two brickworks (producing common and fire bricks), and an engineering workshop. The company failed in 1874 and the estate was put up for sale in 1875.


  • John Watson (died c.1864)
  • Thomas Watson
  • William Watson
  • David Watson

Below – 12/01/1859 – Glasgow Herald – Lands of Bathville for sale … and fireclay, all as presently let to and possessed by Messrs Watson … originally advertised on 26/11/1858.

Below – 02/06/1859 – Falkirk Herald – Lands of Bathville for sale … and fireclay, all as presently let to and possessed by Messrs Watson … originally advertised on 20/05/1859.

01/07/1859 – The Glasgow Herald – We understand that the estate of Bathville, Linlithgowshire, has been purchased by John Watson, Esq., coalmaster, Glasgow, at the sum of £10,500. This estate, which has hitherto been held on a long lease by Mr Watson, contains the celebrated Boghead gas coal, blackband ironstone, and other valuable minerals.

06/09/1864 – Edinburgh Gazette – The trustees and executors of the deceased John Watson, Esq. of Bathville, coalmaster in Glasgow, ceased to have any interest in the Company carried on under the firm of John Watson & Sons, as coalmasters at Glasgow, Bathville, Netherwood, and elsewhere, on the 1st day of August 1864. The business of John Watson & Sons will be continued by the subscribers, Thomas, William, and David Watson. August 31, 1864. John Watson Jnr, Thomas Watson, James Maitland, Robert Young – Trustees and executors of John Watson of Bathville …

Below – 17/11/1864 – Theft from Bathville Brickworks.

30/09/1865 – Paisley Herald – Fatal Accident. On Wednesday, a joiner, named Archibald Prentice, in the employment of Messrs Watson & Sons, Bathville, near Bathgate, whilst following his usual avocation, had, is supposed, gone to ascertain if a circular saw, then in motion, was becoming hot, and when in the act of doing so, his hand became entangled in the machinery, whereby he was drawn into contact with the saw, and cut into the heart. Death was instantaneous. Prentice, who was a steady man and much respected, leaves a wife and family to mourn his melancholy end. (Note – SBH – Gillian Scott, a relative of Mr Prentice states that he was a joiner at the Bathville Brickworks).

11/01/1866 – Glasgow Evening Citizen – Births – Mrs George Gillies, Bathville Brickworks, Bathgate, a daughter, 8th inst.

Below – 1867 – Advert John Watson & Sons, firebrick makers.

1867 john watson bathgate

16/01/1868 – The Scotsman – Extract of Report by Dr Stevensen MacAdam:- “This oil is a cheaper and better illuminating or light-giving agent than the best standard Pennsylvanian Petroleum. It does not char the which so much, and it continues to burn clearer for a longer time. The Bathville Oil is remarkably safe, and will not give off any inflammable vapour under 120 Fahrenheit. Petroleum is generally below this standard.” John Watson & Sons, manufacturers, Bathville Works by Bathgate. Agents – W & H Potts, Edinburgh. This oil is sold in nearly every town in Scotland. Please see that you get Bathville Oil.

1868 – 1869 – Watson, John, & Sons, manufacturers of the Bathville patent paraffin oil and paraffin, fire and composition brick, and fire clay, Bathville, by Bathgate.

01/02/1869 – The Scotsman – The Bathville works, belonging to Messrs. Watson & Sons, and situated about two miles from Bathgate, are of a considerable extent. They contain 150 retorts and give employment to between 300 and 400 persons.

1869 – 1870 – John Watson & Sons, manufacturers of the Bathville patent paraffin oil and paraffin, fire and composition brick, and fire clay, Bathville, by Bathgate.

1870- 1871 – John Watson & Sons, manufacturers of the Bathville patent paraffin oil and paraffin, fire and composition brick and fire clay, Bathville, by

John Watson & Sons, Netherwood, Bog, and Bathville Collieries; household, smithy, and gas coal and coke, 130 West Nile street.

17/01/1870 – The Scotsman – Bricks, composition 30s. Firebricks 40s per thousand, nett cash. Excellent quality. Delivered at Haymarket Station. J Watson and Sons, Bathville Brickworks by Bathgate. Orders promptly attended.

12/10/1870 – Glasgow Herald – Bricks bricks bricks – The best double milled fire bricks are now being delivered per N.B Railway at Glasgow at 40s per 1000 and composition bricks at 30s per 1000. Orders attended to – apply John Watson & Sons, Bathville near Bathgate.

1871 -1872 – David Watson (of John Watson & Sons, coalmasters) – residence Bathville House, by Bathgate

John Watson & Sons, Bathville Colliery and Brickworks. Manufacturers of Bathville patent Colza oil and lamps and Bathville patent sperm and machinery oils. 130 West Nile Street. Works Bathville by Bathgate.

Below – 19/01/1871 – Glasgow Herald – Bathville bricks for sale.  Apply John Watson & Sons. Best composition bricks 9″ x 4½” x 3¼” at 30s per 1000. Common size fire bricks 40s per 1000.

22/03/1871 – The Leeds Mercury – Wanted, and oil merchant to purchase and cultivate the sale in Yorkshire of new and valuable lubricants just patented in Britain. Address Watson’s Bathville, Bathgate, N.B.

11/04/1871 – Glasgow Herald – Bricks. Composition bricks, Bricks 9″ x 4½” x 3¼” at 31s per 1000. Fire bricks, common size 40s per 1000 – delivered per N.B Railway in Glasgow or Edinburgh (Haymarket Station). John Watson & Sons, Bathville, Bathgate.

1872 – 1873 – John Watson & Sons, Bathville Oil, Colliery, and Brickworks, manufacturers of the Bathville patent lubricating oils and grease, 134 West Nile Street; works, Bathville, by Bathgate.

Below – 31/05/1872  – Watson & Sons, Bathville Oil Colliery & Brickworks letterhead.

1873 – 1874 – John Watson & Sons, Bathville Oil, Colliery, and Brickworks, by Bathgate, 134 West Nile street.

1874 – 1875 – John Watson & Sons, Bathville Oil, Colliery, and Brick Works, by Bathgate, 134 West Nile street.

16/04/1874 – Falkirk Herald – Bricks – Composition and fire bricks. Good quality at moderate prices – John Watson & Sons, Bathville Brickworks, Bathgate.

17/06/1874 – The Scotsman – Bricks – Composition and fire bricks, good quality at moderate prices. John Watson & Sons, Bathville Brickworks, Bathgate.

24/11/1874 – Edinburgh Gazette – The Estates of John Watson & Sons, Coalmasters and Oil and Brick Manufacturers at Bathville, near Bathgate, and of Thomas Watson, William Watson, and David Watson, all Coalmasters and Oil and Brick Manufacturers at Bathville aforesaid, the Individual Partners of the said Company of John Watson & Sons, as such Partners, and as Individuals, were Sequestrated on the 24th day of November 1874, by the Court of Session

26/11/1874 – Falkirk Herald – Scotch bankrupts – John Watson Sons, coalmasters and oil and brick manufacturers at Bathville, near Bathgate, and Thos. Watson, Wm. Watson, and David Watson, all coalmasters and oil and brick manufacturers at Bathville aforesaid, the individual partners of the said company of John Watson & Sons, as such partners and as individuals.

Below – 19/03/1875 – Glasgow Herald – Lands of Bathville Estate for sale … £16,000 … They include two brickworks … The brickworks are capable of producing 3 million composition and fire bricks annually and there are ample materials in the lands for the manufacture for many years. All the houses and brickworks are lighted with gas …

Below – 11/05/1875 – Glasgow Herald – The Estate of Bathville for sale including 2 brickworks. The brickworks are capable of producing 3 million of composition and firebricks annually and there are ample materials in the lands for the manufacture for many years. There are 2 managers cottages, 59 workmen s houses and a superior grocery store on the lands. All the houses and brickworks are lighted with gas …

Below – 29/04/1876 – Falkirk Herald – Findlay and Quinton beg to announce that they have entered upon a lease of the Bathville Brickworks and are prepared to offer for sale, at moderate rates, composition brick, fire brick, fire clay &c. Orders promptly executed. Bathville Brickworks, Armadale, by Bathgate. 07/04/1876.

29/04/1876 – West Lothian Courier – Bathville Brickworks. Findlay and Quinton beg respectfully to inform builders and others that they now offer a first-class composition brick, also fire brick, fire clay and fire clay goods.

11/05/1877 – Edinburgh Gazette  – Sequestration of John Watson & Sons, coalmasters and oil and brick manufacturers at Bathville, near Bathgate, as a Company, and of Thomas Watson, William Watson, and David Watson, all coal masters and oil and brick manufacturers at Bathville aforesaid, the individual partners of said company, as such partners, and as individuals. The trustee hereby intimates that the commissioners have audited his accounts made up as at 24th April 1877, and have postponed a dividend until the recurrence of another statutory period. McLelland, Mackinnon, & Blyth, For WM. Mackinnon, Trustee. Glasgow, 8th May 1877.

1878 – Findlay & Quinton – Bathville Brick and Tile Works, Bathgate.

20/12/1878 – Edinburgh Gazette – Noice of dissolution. The firm of Findlay and Quinton, brickmakers at Bathville, in the County of Linlithgow, and at Camps, near Wilkieston, in the County of Midlothian, of which the subscribers Robert McLaren Findlay, James Quinton, and William Sommerville were the sole partners, was dissolved of mutual consent, on 16th December 1878. The subscribers William Sommerville and James Quinton, who are to carry on the business for their joint behoof under the firm of Sommerville & Quinton, are authorized, conjunctly or severally, to collect the assets and pay the debts of the dissolved firm. Edinburgh, 18th December 1878. R. M. Findlay. James Quinton. Wm. Sommerville. James Coutts, Solicitor, 18 York Place, Edinburgh, Witness. David J. Wallace, Law Apprentice, 18 York Place, Edinburgh, Witness.

1882 – Robertson Love & Co, Brick and Tile Makers, Bathville Brickworks and at Bonnyrigg. (Note – SBH – See the entry dated 04/07/1906. 1882 appears to have been when Robertson, Love and Co took over the works)

02/02/1884 – Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser – Bankruptcy examination. Mr R. M. Findlay, builder, South Queensferry, was last Friday examined in bankruptcy before Sheriff Melville at Linlithgow. The bankrupt stated that he began business as a bricklayer at Ormiston in 1874 with a capital of £50, which was all his own. He had contracts with the Benhar Coal Company, Ormiston Coal Company, and the Uphall Oil Company, for building chimney, &c. He had also a contract to build a drill house at Leith. He made profits on these contracts. In 1881 he thought he would have £370 of his own as the result of these profits. He lost about £200 upon the contract for the brickwork of a hotel in London in 1881, About the same time, he lost about £200 over the Bathville Brickworks. He was a joint tenant of these works for about three years. He had no books in connection with that concern. He lost about £80 on ten shares in the Clyde Coal Company, and £15 on a share in the Burntisland Oil Company. He put up some tenements in 1882 in Leith Walk. There was a little profit on these. He had also contracts for building miners’ houses at Dalmeny and Niddrie. The amount of the Dalmeny contracts was £1678 4s 6d and for Niddrie £794 and for Mr Muir, Dalmeny, £119 10s. All these contracts were fairly profitable. His books were nearly made up, and he agreed to hand them over in a completed state to the trustee on Monday, and also a statement of the contracts he had entered into since he began business. The examination was continued until next Friday.

Below – 08/03/1884 – Lanarkshire Upper Ward Examiner – Robertson and Love were sued by a farmer.

1886 – Robertson, Love & Co. (brick and fire clay), Bathville Brickworks, Armadale Station.

22/11/1890 – Lanarkshire Upper Ward Examiner – Armadale bowling club bazaar is held to raise funds to repair the green … Donations include …Mr Robertson, Bathville Brickworks gave two massive garden vases …

10/12/1892 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Robertson, Love & Co, brickmakers, Bathgate appealed against their being charged both owners and occupiers rate as they were only occupiers of the work. Mr Wood was the owner. They were entered in the valuation roll at &80 while only £50 was paid to Mr Wood.

1893 – 1894 – Robertson, Love & Co, Brick and Tile Manufacturers, Armadale.

Below – 1895 – Bathville Brickworks.

Below – 1896 – Bathville Brickworks. (To the left of the Etna Works).

23/07/1897 – Edinburgh Evening News – New Scottish joint-stock company – Robertson, Love & Co, manufactures of bricks, tiles etc, Bathgate. Capital £6000 in 2000 preference shares of £1 each and 4000 ordinary shares of £1 each.

03/06/1899 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Going for minnow and getting the birch rod. Two young lads. Andrew Cooper, son of and residing with Isabella Baxter or Cooper, a widow, Bathville and James McClory, son of and residing with John McClory, miner, Bathville, denied having, on 14th May, at the railway siding at the brick works at Bathville, occupied by Messrs Robertson and Company, Limited, removed the sprays or blocks from the wheels of three loaded waggons, which set them motion, and caused them to run along the incline to a set of cast-off or run away points, where the left the rails and tore and destroyed part of the bogie railway, whereby the waggons were damaged. McClory had a previous conviction of malicious mischief against him. Evidence was called, the foreman stating that from the appearance one place the accused must have taken a sleeper and knocked the brick out. The next day it took five men from three o’clock in the morning to nine o’clock to put the waggons right, and part of the waggon line was torn up. The company had been a good deal annoyed by boys coming about the place and doing mischief. Charles Blake, a railway guard, deponed that he had put five bricks in front of the three waggons in question on the Friday previous. He was at the place again on Saturday, but he could not say whether the five bricks were all under the waggons then. The boys were accompanied by their parents. Their story was that they were on their way to the pond to catch minnows and in passing, Cooper accidentally kicked out one of the bricks. There were only two bricks in front of the waggons and when one was knocked out the other slipped out, and the waggons moved off. The Sheriff, in passing sentence, said that he was quite satisfied that James McClory approved of what had been done. James had been before the Court before for taking turnips, but he didn’t treat that as an aggravation. He was very much afraid that these waggons were not properly secured. His suspicion was that there were not five bricks securing the waggons. Two would have been amply sufficient for the purpose, but it was quite true that if there had been five bricks the temptation might have not presented itself to the boys. The sentence would be eight stripes with the birch rod.

Below – c. 1900 – Robertson, Love & Co Ltd – Bathville Brick & Fireclay Works, Armadale Station, West Lothian – Catalogue dated c. 1900.

Bathville Brick & Fire Clay Co Armadale Robertson & Love

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 in 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 in 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 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.

28/12/1900 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – At the brickworks. So far as the trade at the brickworks is concerned, no complaint can be made with regard to orders. Employment has been regularly found for all hands, and trade has been very brisk all the year-round. At Messrs Robertson, Love, and Co.’s, however, there is a good stock in hand, but it is expected that the orders during the coming year will be such as to readily dispose of this stock. the Etna Brickworks, belonging to Messers James Wood, Limited, some good orders have been secured, including a contract for the brick work for the fortifications at present being built on Dalmeny Estate at South Queensferry. Government work has also been secured by Messrs Robert Muir and Company, who have been successful in a contract for supplying brick for the fortifications being erected on Inch Garvie and on the ground recently purchased from the Dunfermline Guildry at North Queensferry. Despite the high price for some qualities of bricks, the local manufacturers have done very well during the year, and are confident of securing some good orders in the coming year. (Note – SBH – I am unsure which of the Robertson Love Brickworks this refers to so I have recorded it here meantime).

1903 – Robertson, Love & Co. Limited, Bathville Brickworks, Armadale Station S.O. Linlithgowshire; T A “Robertson Love, Armadale ”

1903 – Robertson, Love & Co. Limited, brick & sanitary pipe manufacturers, Bathville Brickworks, Armadale Station; T A “Robertson, Love, Armadale”

1901 – 1904 – Bathville Brickworks: Armadale Station, Linlithgowshire: Robertson, Love & Co. T. 0. Armadale.

02/02/1906 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Willie Smith, the 5 1/2-year-old child of Mr Alex. Smith, Tarrareoch Farm, met with a painful accident on Friday afternoon, by which he had his right leg fractured above the knee. A hutch road had just been laid past the house from a fireclay bing to Robertson and Love’s Brickworks, for the purpose of conveying the clay in hutches to the works, and on Friday the boy, taken with the novelty, was running alongside three hutches, which were being drawn a pony, and at a part of the road, a short distance from the house, where there is slight decline, boy fell before the hutches, and in passing over his leg they left the track, pinning him between the wheels. Mr Alex. Barras, who was his way to the pay office, happened to come along just at the time and with the assistance of the men at the bing they soon had the boy extricated when it was found that the boy’s leg was terribly lacerated, the flesh being torn away from the bone, whilst the bone was also badly splintered.

06/07/1906 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – a comprehensive article on the industries of Armadale … Under Messrs Watson, brickworks were early established at Bathville and after Mr Wood had devoted himself to the development of the coalfield with great success, he turned his attention to the brickworks to such an extent that again the ground was studded with tall chimneys and the output of bricks for building purposes was something enormous. These works are fitted with the most up to date machinery for making bricks and the most approved kilns for burning them. On the site of the original brickworks, Messrs Robertson and Love in 1882, instituted a fireclay pipework, in conjunction with brick manufacturing and have greatly extended their operations by many additions …

07/12/1906 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – The stackyard the United Collieries Company, situated between Bathville House and Atlas Brick Works, was discovered to be on fire midnight Monday, from what reason no one exactly knows, but is generally believed that it had been caused by a spark from one the brickwork chimneys. The yard contained somewhere about one hundred tons of hay, and with the exception one rick, the whole has been destroyed. When, the fire was noticed the wind was blowing very strong, and there being no help at hand, the flames soon spread from stack to stack making it impossible to extinguish it. The damage is estimated at £400 but is said to be covered by insurance.

Below – 25/01/1907 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Mr Thomas Robertson – Born Kilwinning. Managed the Hurlford Fireclay Works.  Robertson, Love and Co were first established at the Bonnyrigg Fire Clay Works and then they moved to Bathville.


11/10/1907 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – The popularity of Messrs Robertson and Love’s fireclay drain pipe and chimney can works, Bathville, is growing to such an extent all over the world, and they find the demand so great as to tax the output of their large staff of workers to the utmost. In order to meet the growing demand, they have introduced a pipe-making machine, which was successfully set in operation on Tuesday, and is capable to turning out 150 pipes per hour from 4 to 12 inches, complete with faucets, and will thereby greatly assist the company in keeping up with the demand. In addition to pipes and cans, they manufacture bricks that have a large demand and foreign orders are always in hand, as well as those for home firms, with the result that Mr Robertson, the manager, has all he can do to keep pace with the times.

06/03/1908 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Death of brickworks manager – Mr James Crosier, aged 56 years, manager of Messrs Robert Muir and Co’s Armadale Brickworks and residing in the company’s cottage at the works, died suddenly on Thursday morning from the effects of cold, which brought about a complication of troubles, chiefly inflammation the lungs and an affection of the kidneys. He had only come to take up his duties as manager of the works in November of last year, coming from Chryston. He was no stranger, however, in Armadale as a brickwork employee, having been employed with Mr Quinton at the Bathville Works for a long time, and leaving the district with Mr Quinton when his lease was out fifteen years ago. He was a powerful looking man of a very pleasing disposition and was just about to see the works, which have been slack for some time, in full operation again. His remains are to be interred at Chryston tomorrow. Much sympathy is felt for his sorrowing widow.

17/07/1908 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – New drains in Whitburn Road – An offer by Messrs Robertson, Love and Co accepted to supply same at 1s 7d per yard.

18/12/1908 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – The United Company’s Brickworks at Bathville have booked a foreign order for 250,000 firebricks, and all hands are busy loading them for shipment. The order will take away 100 waggon loads, and should relieve the stock a bit.

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.

11/01/1912 – West Lothian Courier – Armadale man’s narrow escape. Inches from clay mixer. On Wednesday afternoon at the brickworks of Messrs Robertson, Love and Coy., Bathville, Hugh Sloan (17) an Armadale lad had a narrow escape from death. It appears that the machinery conveying clay from waggons to the mixing pan in connection with the process of brick making was in active operation. The clay is caught on what is called a trailer and conveys it from the waggon to the mixing pan where large knives are operating breaking up the mass and mixing the clay with other materials. Sloan had been, it is understood, on the waggon, though he, not being a worker, had no right to be there. Through some cause, his left leg was caught on the trailer, and he was dragged along and was within inches of being thrown into the mixer when Albert, who happened to see the plight of Sloan, stopped the machinery. With all speed, Sloan was extricated from his perilous position. It was found that the leg had been badly mangled from the ankle to the hip, while Sloan also suffered bodily bruises and from shock. After being medically attended to the lad was conveyed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. We were informed yesterday Sloan was making good progress toward recovery.

Below – 30/11/1912 – Robertson Love & Co Letterhead. – (source unknown)

25/04/1913 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Rodger Darroch residing at East Main Street, while employed by Messrs Roberston and Love at their Bathville Brickworks as a kiln burner met with an accident on Thursday afternoon of last week. He had occasion to move a waggon of coal down a slight distance to where he required it for firing the kiln. He placed a brick on the rail where he wanted the waggon to stop and proceeded to let it down at the same time taking hold of the brake and bearing upon the lever. The side of the waggon he was on was sunk with a low retaining wall. Against this wall lay an iron plate which caught his foot and turned him around so that he fell between the wheels but was held by the double brake blocker otherwise he would have been run over. The brick stopped the waggon when the wheel was pressing against him and when he was taken out and attended to by the doctor he was found to have received severe internal injuries and a broken rib. His advanced age, he was in his 74th year, rendered him unable to sustain the shock and suffering great pain he succumbed on Saturday evening. The greater portion of his life was spent in Armadale and he was respected by all who knew him. Much sympathy is extended to his sorrowing family. He was interred at Bathgate Cemetery on Monday.

26/03/1914 – The Scotsman – United Collieries annual meeting of shareholders … the kiln accommodation at Bathville Brickworks has been practically doubled …

08/10/1914 – The Scotsman – Deaths – Robertson on 9th inst. Thomas Robertson, Bathgate, retired brick manufacturer.

Below – 09/10/1914 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Brickworks slackening down. The effects of the war are now beginning to tell upon the brick workers in the district. At the Etna Brickworks, which have hitherto been kept full pressure all the year round, it has been found necessary, owing to the difficulty placed in the way of shipping, to curtail the output, and consequently cut down the number of hands employed. Messrs Robertson and Love’s Fireclay Works at Bathville, where drain pipes and chimney tops are the principal product, they are now finding the effects of the war, with the result that one of the works, known as the top work, is about to be closed down for the present. A general slackness in orders is now being felt all over the district, and before many weeks many hands may be out employment.

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 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.

Below – 13/10/1922 – Linlithgowshire Gazette  – Late William Selkirk. For over 40 years he was the works manager at Messrs Robertson & Love’s Fireclay Works, Bathville. He was trained to the trade of fireclay pipe and brick making in the Dunbar area and then worked at  Messrs Roberston & Co’s works as oversman at Bonnyrigg over 50 years ago.

13/02/1925 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Reference to Mr D. Robinson, manager, Bathville Brickworks attending a function held by the staff and friend of the United Collieries.

27/03/1971 – West Lothian Courier – Accident. On Monday morning while at work at Robertson &. Love and Company’s Brickworks, Jessie Logan, who resides with her parents at East Main Street, Armadale was severely injured through several clay pipes falling on her head. She was temporarily knocked unconscious. Under medical supervision, she was brought round to consciousness and thereafter taken home. We are pleased to learn that Miss Logan is making good progress towards complete recovery.

13/11/1931 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Steeplejacks fall at Armadale. Under the Fatal Accidents and Sudden Deaths Act, a Public Inquiry was held within the County Buildings, Linlithgow by Sheriff Robertson and a jury on Tuesday, the proceedings being conducted by Mr George S MacKnight, procurator fiscal for West Lothian. The first inquiry was into the circumstances of the death of George Robb, steeplejack, 260 Dunn Street, Bridgeton, Glasgow, who, on 12th October, while employed on a chimney stalk Bathville Brickworks, Armadale, fell from a height of 115 feet and was so injured that he died. William McIntosh, brickman, Armadale, said that on the day of the accident he was employed with the United Collieries at Bathville. He was working near a chimney stalk about two o’clock in the afternoon when he saw some bricks falling down. He looked up and saw the deceased tumbling down headfirst. The man turned a somersault and fell into a waggon, where the witness found him seriously injured, but alive. The little chair in which he sat while at work the stalk was still attached to him. James Cumming, steeplejack, Glasgow, said that he was working with Robb on the stalk at Armadale, which was 115 feet high. Robb was quite near him and both were near the top of the chimney. Across the top of the chimney was a chain, and at either end, there was a block. Just before the accident they were both working ladders. In order to remove the chain, the deceased had to go round the chimney to points that the ladder could not reach, and for this purpose, he fitted a hanger. He unhooked a block and put it into the eye of the hanger. He pulled the rope down, tied the chair, and sat in it. Witness pulled him by the block which was on this hanger. The deceased’s idea was to get the chain from the top of the chimney. He was sitting in his chair and had pushed himself out with his feet, and given the chain a flip, but the chain did not come down. He gave a second flip, and at the same moment, the hanger, chair and man all left the chimney and fell to the ground. Witness went down and found the unfortunate man on the waggon. He accompanied him to the Infirmary at Glasgow, where he died from his injuries shortly after admission. On the following Tuesday, the witness and some other men examined the top of the chimney and found that the top row of bricks had come away, and the second tier had one brick missing where the hanger had been holding. John Cumming, Jun., steeplejack, Glasgow, said that on 13lh October, he visited Armadale and made an inspection of the tackle which had been used and he found it all intact. He also examined the top of the chimney and saw where the bricks had come away. He agreed that the flipping was probably responsible for the loosening of the bricks, but could not suggest any other way which the job could have been done owing to the heat at that part of the chimney. A formal verdict was returned by the jury.

11/02/1935 – The Scotsman – Death of Mr Donald Robertson. In the article below he is named as Mr Daniel Robertson?! … Mr Robertson succeeded his father as managing director of Robertson, Love & Co. (Ltd), brick and Fireclay manufacturers, Bathville Works, Armadale. After the firm became amalgamated with the United Collieries (Ltd) some years ago, Mr Robertson retained his connection as manager …

Below – 16/02/1935 – Falkirk Herald – Death of  Mr Daniel Robertson.



Below – 1938 – Bathville Brick and Fireclay Works. (On the left of the map).
16/02/1945 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – James Fisher, 4 Viewfield Terrace, Armadale Road, Whitburn was fined 5s or 5 days imprisonment for stealing 56lbs of coal from Bathville Brick and Fireclay Works on 1st February.
06/02/1948 – West Lothian Courier – Ashes can be had for the lifting. Bathville Fire Clay Works, Armadale.
15/08/1969 – West Lothian Courier – Missing man found. Mr William Reid, of Armadale who has been missing in the Spanish holiday island for thirteen days, was found in a clinic there nearly four weeks after he began his holiday in July. Mr Reid a 57-year-old widower, of Temple Avenue. Armadale. who works at the Bathville Brickworks, went missing about two hours before he was due to board an airport bus at Arenal which would take him to the airport for the flight home after his twelve-day holiday …
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. (Note – SBH – I am uncertain if this entry refers to the Bathville Brickworks or one of the other works on the site).
1982 – Works closed and demolished by this date.

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