Blackness Brick and Tile Works, Bo’ness and Carriden Parish, Falkirk

Blackness Brick and Tile Works, Brickfield, Bo’ness and Carriden Parish, Falkirk

Open prior to 1834. Date of closure is unknown but the works were open till at least 1854 – 55 as they appear on the survey of that year.

The works were in close proximity to the valuable clay deposits at Brickfield and appear to have been open for several years prior to 1834. The works produced roofing and draining tiles as well as bricks and were probably profiting at this time as the market in drainage tiles was expanding rapidly.

Clay was obtained from the site – a field was dug open cast to a depth of 12 feet.

Falkirk Museum and Archives – in 1834 the works were reported to have employed 12 men and yielded an average of 150,000 bricks, 200,000 roofing tiles and 200,000 drainage pipes ( per year?)


In West Lothian, Blackness Brick and Tile Works were in operation prior to 1834 and the enterprise is believed to have lasted at least up to 1857. In 1834 the annual output was
150,000 bricks, 200,000 roofing tiles and 200,000 draining tiles (Ref. 1845a, p. 71). This area of brick clay is believed to be of limited extent and to have, or to have had, a maximum
thickness of 8 to 12 ft. The clay rests on gravel underlain by boulder clay. Source


Canmore – Blackness Brick and Tile Works: ‘ A large brick and tile works south of Blackness, having excellent drying sheds, and kilns in good burning order. There are generally a good many men employed continually in the burning and mixing clay and the making of brick and tiles. The latter are what are principally made here in consequence of there being a great demand for them for the purpose of land draining. There is a good dwelling house and a small vegetable garden attached to the works. The whole is in the possession of Mr Struthers and the property of the Earl of Hopetoun.’ Ordnance Survey Name Book, 1855

1851 – Census – Thomas Struthers (49) is residing at 48 Blackness Tileworks, Carriden with a Robert McAlley, a tile maker and a female servant.

Below – 1854 – Blackness Brick and Tile Works.


1855 – 1859 – ScotlandsPlaces – Blackness Brick and Tile Works – A large brick and tileworks South of Blackness, having excellent drying sheds and kilns in good burning order Complete. There are generally a good many men employed continually, with raising and mixing of clay and making of bricks and tiles, the latter are what are principally made here in consequence of there being a great demand for them, for the purpose of land draining. There is a good dwelling house and small vegetable garden attached to the works. The whole are in the possession of Mr Struthers and is the property of the Earl of Hopetoun

19/06/1862 – Stirling Observer – Linlithgow Brass Band .. on arriving at Blackness the company proceeded to the usual custom of electing a  “Port or Baron Baillie” when  Thomas Struthers, Esq of Blackness Tile Works was re-elected …

08/06/1864 – Glasgow Herald – Scotch Bills in Parliament – North British and Glasgow Railway Bill  … The railway would thus get about 15,000 tons of goods traffic. It would also have to carry drainage tiles … Among the works which would be benefitted by the new line were the Blackness Tile Works …

27/05/1869 – Falkirk Herald – Robert Sanderson, auctioneer has been instructed by Mr Struthers to sell by Public Roup, at Blackness Tile Work on Thursday 3rd June next as follows:- 1 draught-horse, 1 gig horse, 1 shetland pony, 1 lady’s side saddle, 2 close carts, wheels and axles – one of them a coup cart, 1 frame for ditto, 2 sets of cart harness, 1 set gig harness, 2 riding saddles, stable utensils etc. About 3300 – 400 stones of excellent hay, about 300 stones of excellent straw for litter.Summerhouse, 3 garden chairs, garden frame, roller, a large wagonette with portable hood in first-rate order, phaeton, corn chest, beef safe.

23/09/1869 – Falkirk Herald – Roofing tiles, first-class also drain pipes of all sizes. Prices moderate. Alexander Dougall, Blackness and Winchburgh Tileworks, Linlithgow.

04/01/1872 -Falkirk Herald – Sailings – Dec 28th (1871) – James and George Simpson for Blackness, in ballast (to load tiles)

20/04/1872 – Falkirk Herald – Sheriff Court, Linlithgow – Important decision – McAlley and Dougal. An action was brought in this Court, at the instance of William McAlley, tile maker, residing in Cupar, Fife, against Alexander Dougal, brick and tile maker at Blackness and Winchburgh Brick and Tile Works, near Linlithgow, to recover the sum of £50 being loss and damage alleged to have been sustained by the pursuer in and through the defender’s breach or wrongful non-fulfilment of a contract of service entered into between pursuer and defender under holograph acceptance thereof by the defender. According to the pursuer’s allegations, he, along with his tile moulder and pacer, were prepared to commence work at Blackness on 11th April 1870, but through negligence and, it was alleged, the default of the defender, they were prevented from following up their employment and said contracts until two days thereafter, when they entered upon the same, ad shortly thereafter they were again delayed for two half-days on account of the defender having failed in providing a sufficient supply of clay, which it was said he was bound up to keep constantly in and; and, farther, on the 12th, 13th, ad 14th of May, 1870, the defender again failed to have a supply of clay in a sufficient and workable condition for making tiles through the want of covering.  In consequence of these delays, the tile moulder employed by the pursuer for the whole season refused to fulfil his engagement unless payment for the time lost was made, and on 21st May 1870, left the pursuer’s service. The pursuer immediately thereafter visited the different districts where such a person might be got, and advertised in several papers for an efficient tile moulder, but without procuring one, and the pursuer was thereby deprived of the necessary assistance in tile making on the three-handed system as agreed upon, and the defender refused the pursuer employment in tile making on the one-handed system, by all of which the pursuers were deprived of his season’s employment of 1870 as an efficient tile maker from and after 21st May of that year, to the loss and damage of the pursuer. The defender denied any breach of contract on his part.

A record having been made up and close, and proof adduced for both parties, the Sheriff-Substitute (Home) on the 1st March 1872, pronounced an interlocutor finding that in the circumstances detailed in that interlocutor, it was the pursuer, not the defender, who committed a breach of the agreement, referred to, by his not having or getting men to work it out and that he himself, in a  great measure, to blame for the consequences; and therefore assoilzied the defender with expenses, subject to modification. Both partied feeling dissatisfied, appealed, and were heard at length before Sheriff Monro, who has pronounced the following judgment in the case:-

Edinburgh, 15th April 1872. The Sheriff having heard parties’ procurators orally under the mutual appeals against the Sheriff-Substitute’s interlocutor of 1st March last, and made avizandum, and considered the record, proof, and whole process: Recalls the said interlocutor in so far as it finds the defender entitled to expenses only subject to modifications.  Finds the defender entitled to expenses of process allows an account thereof to be given in and remits the same to the Auditor of Court to tax and report Cued ultra adheres to the said interlocutor and decerns. (Signed) Geo. Monro.

Note.- The Sheriff, after a careful perusal of the proof, regards the pursuer’s case as having broken down on his own evidence, as a whole. He does not think it necessary to give any analysis of the evidence after the detailed interlocutor now reviewed. It seems doubtful whether any relevant case is not forth in the condescendence, but the plea on that subject was not argued before the Sheriff. He does not see any ground for modifying the defender’s expenses and none such was stated at the hearing.

(intd.)   G.M. Agent for the pursuer-Mr Jamieson, solicitor, Bo’ness. For the defender-Messrs Glen and Henderson, Linlithgow.

1886 – George Dougal, fire brick and tile maker, Blackness, Borrowstounness (Bo’ness).

02/03/1892 – Falkirk Herald – Death of Ex-Dean of Guild Dougal. The representatives of older Linlithgow are sad to state, gradually disappearing life’s busy scene. Just a fortnight ago we chronicled the death of a well-known and typical Linlithgowegian the person of Mr Wm. Liddle. We have now to record with deep regret the demise of one who was a close friend of the other, and a well-known and highly respected citizen. We refer to Mr Alexander Dougal, brick manufacturer, who died at his residence on Thursday night, at the age of 64. The deceased gentleman was native of the burgh, with which his family and relations have been long connected. He was the fifth son, the eldest of the family being our respected townsman ex-Bailie Dougal. His father, Mr William Dougal, was for many years a carter or contractor in the burgh, to which he removed from Edinburgh. For upwards of twenty years, the deceased had leased the brickworks at Winchburgh from Lord Hopetoun. He was also for some years tenant of the brickworks at Blackness but relinquished the tenancy on the expiry of the lease some five years ago. Dougal was for a good many years connected with the Town Council. He was elected a Councillor of the burgh on 3rd November 1874, and on 7th November 1878, he was unanimously appointed Dean of Guild, which office he held up to 9th May 1884, when he resigned. From the date of his first entering the Council till his resignation, he was continuously re-elected as Councillor. He was a keen bowler and curler and took a warm interest in many of the institutions connected with the town. At social gatherings, his geniality and good-natured badinage was such as to make him at all times a popular guest and drew around him a large circle of friends, by whom he was esteemed and respected. Mr Dougal had been ailing for the past few months.

1893 – Geo Dougal, Fire brick and tile maker, Blackness.

21/08/1897 – Alloa Advertiser – … Blackness therefore sunk gradually into insignificance; and now its harbour is in ruins, its custom house is used for lodgings, and its only trade is a trivial exportation bricks and tiles, and a small importation of lime and manure …

24/11/1944 – Bo’ness Journal – Blackness clay – Post War Industry -The following letter has been received by Mr Geo. Mathers, M.P. from Mr Thomas Johnston, Secretary of State for Scotland.

Dear Mr Mathers.
You wrote to me on the 31st October about the post-war industrial prospects of the County of West Lothian and the Burgh of Linlithgow.  As you know, the Government have announced in the recent white paper on employment policy that they accept as one of their primary aims and responsibilities, the maintenance of a high and stable level of employment after the war.  In pursuing this policy, the Government will naturally have to devote their first attention to those particularly vulnerable areas which suffered serious large-scale unemployment during the interwar years and would be likely to do so again in the absence of special measures.  The economic needs of areas such as West Lothian will be constantly borne in mind.  As far as primarily Scottish conditions are concerned, the Scottish Council on Industry are, as you know, giving very active consideration to possibilities of industrial development in Scotland,  The County Council of West Lothian and the burgh of Linlithgow are both represented on the Council through the Association of County Councils in Scotland and the Convention of Royal Burghs respectively, and I would suggest that they should lay before the Council a statement showing the problems which they expect to arise and their suggestions for meeting them. The Council would, I am sure, give very careful consideration to any representations made to them on this subject.  In the meantime, I am forwarding to the Council a copy of the article from the West Lothian Courier of the 27th October which you forwarded with your letter.  The Council are anxious to explore all possibilities of utilising economically Scottish natural resources and they have set up a special committee to investigate to what extent the materials ad fittings required for a post-war building programme in Scotland can be produced in Scotland.  I think you can be assured, therefore, that they will be very ready to examine most fully the possibilities of resuscitating the Blackness Clay industries. ((Sgd.) Thos Johnston.
The article referred to in Mr Johnston’s letter, was on the following lines:- In the Blackness district of West Lothian there are immense possibilities for the establishment of a new industry.  About 100 years ago clay tiles and pipes were made therefrom a fine quality of clay.  These tiles, of a reddish colour, can be seen on many houses on both sides of the Forth, and it is understood that there is nothing better for keeping a house weather-tight than these tiles from Blackness clay.
24/11/1944 – Bo’ness Journal – Clay Water Pipes – Water pipes were also made there.  These were made in pieces of about 3 1/2 feet long with the joints made of bitumen and the inside of the pipe glazed.  The piping was used for conveying water from a spring to supply Paul’s Well at the West Port, Linlithgow, and a Linlithgow man is in possession of a piece with markings S. & G.-Blackness-1821.  It is understood that the mould used for making the tiles is still in existence.  It s believed that at one time a firm of the name Struthers owned the works and that the last firm to have the business had the name Dougal, which is quite a prominent name in the Linlithgow district.  The date of and the reason for the closing of the concern is unknown, but it is believed that transport costs were responsible for the cessation of activities at Blackness.  Carting in these old days was one method of transport while shipping was another.  At any rate, the tiles had to be carted to the water where they were stacked to a particular height above the high watermark. When a ship came in at high tide it was loaded on one side with tiles. When the tide went out it listed to one side with the weight of its cargo and tiles were loaded but before the at low tide, the remainder of the ship departed it had to remain time till high tide again. (Note – SBH – confusing last sentence!)

26/11/1944 – Sunday Post – Maybe revived after 110 years – Efforts are being made to revive the old clay industry at Blackness, West Lothian. Near the ancient seaport, research has revealed a valuable field of clay averaging 12 feet deep. It has been worked about 110 years ago and yielded an annual average of 150, 000 bricks, 200,000 roofing tiles and 200,000 drainage tiles. The red-tiled roofs of buildings on both sides of the Forth testify to the durability of Blackness clay. It is believed the industry was killed when Bo’ness superseded Blackness as a port. Mr George Mathers MP has drawn the attention of Tom Johnston, Secretary of State for Scotland to this valuable field of clay. Mr Johnston has promised investigations.

22/12/1944 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Letter to the editor. Sir – With regard to this question I beg to say that the works were going in the ‘7os and early ’80s of the last century. I spent a month there every summer at that period and well remember the sloops or small lighters coming to Blackness for the products. The boats used to be loaded while lying on the mud to the west of the pier. I do not remember any bricks being loaded, and I cannot be sure about tiles, but I have seen field drain pipes being loaded. The man who had the works then was Mr Alexander Dougal, otherwise, Dean of Guild Dougal or “San the Brick” lived for many years in High Street in that large house to the west of Gillespie’s shop. Yours, etc., John Meek. 8 Great Charlotte Street, Liverpool.

26/01/1945 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Letter to the Editor. Sir, Some time ago you kindly printed a short note on the Blackness clay. Since then I have talked the matter over with people who know something of the old tilework. One who knows something of tiles says it was among the best cutting and weather-resisting tiles in Scotland over a hundred and fifty years ago. The works also made the saddle and sole drainpipes which drained the whole of the farmland in this part of Scotland. They also made perforated brick which had three holes on the bedding side. The clay must have been worked very long ago as the kilns at the old meal mills were floored with bricks of the same clay about a foot square and about two and a half inches deep, barred across both ways with ribs to within half an inch of the surface. For strength, the half-inch on top was perforated with very small holes. A lot of the older houses had the kitchen and scullery floors laid with twelve-inch by two-inch tiles, which had a very nice appearance when newly washed. I  have an idea this clay would make a splendid red slate as used on the modem bungalow. l am sure it was not for want of clay that the works closed down, but for want of’ transport. But times have changed. Electric power and modern machinery, coupled with the proposed Shore Road and Forth Road Bridge, would enable products of the works to be available over a wide area in a very short time. With the works on the east side of the village and a jetty the Castle Rock, the products could be shipped far and near. I see some of our leading men are taking an interest in the matter. More strength to their arm. Yours, etc., W. S., Avenue.

Below – A collection of bricks and pantiles found in and around the area of the Blackness Tileworks. I cannot confirm for sure, but it is highly likely they were manufactured at the Works.


Below – The pantile measures approx. 14½” x 10″


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