Bonnymuir Brick and Tile Works, Bonnybridge, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Bonnymuir Tileworks aka Bonnymuir Brick and Tile Works, Bonnybridge, Falkirk, Stirlingshire. (Note – SBH – These works may also have been known as Bonnyside Tileworks or if separate works, then bot must have been sited adjacent to each other).

Bonnymuir Brick and Tile Works, Bonnybridge. Established prior to 1867. It is possible that G Turnbull & Co operated this site in conjunction with the Woodlea Brickworks at one time. –  Falkirk Archives.

Below – 1839 – The advert below infers that the Bonnymuir Works were established in 1839. (Note – SBH – I am uncertain as to the actual date of the advert but it may be c. 1919).

Works – Dykehead Firebrick and Ganister Works and Bonnymuir Fireclay and Grateback. Works TA – Ceramics, Bonnybridge. Directors Gerald Hooper, Joseph Kimber, A.L Sydney, John Hambly, and F.C Swallow – Managing Director.

George Turnbull

1842 – Kenneth W Sanderson states the Gowan Bank Brick and Tile Works, Grahams Road, Grahamston, Falkirk.s were started prior to 1842 and managed by Alexander Cairns. He was married to Margaret Donald of the Bonnymuir Brickworks Bonnybridge.

04/12/1851 – Falkirk Herald – On Monday morning, on the arrival of the workmen at the Bonnymuir Brick and Tile Work, the fire-brick stove was found to on fire. Owing to the calmness of the air, the fire was easily subdued before reaching any other portion of the buildings, the damage being confined entirely to that part of the work, which, happily, insured.

1852 – Alexander Cairns, Brick and Tile Works, Bonnybridge.

Below – 20/02/1852 – The Glasgow Herald – Bonnymuir Brick and Tile Works for let or for sale. Apply to Mr Cairns at the works.


23/12/1852 – Stirling Observer – Deaths. At Bonnymuir Tileworks, suddenly at an advanced age, Mr George Turnbull, sen.

1855 – Margaret Donald and her husband Alexander Cairns, once manager of Malcolm Cockburns Gowanbank Brickworks, were living in Melbourne Australia but still owned the Bonnymuir works which were managed by George Turnbull.

1857 – Greenbank Cottage, Linlithgow. Geo Turnbull, brick manufacturer, Denny.

Below – 1860 – Bonnymuir Tileworks. (Note – SBH – See also Bonnyside Tileworks. – Bonnyside and Bonnymuir Tileworks are either one of the same or operated side by side. They ‘both’ appear to have been operated by Alexander Cairns) – for clarification).

1875 – By this date, Alexander Cairns had sold the Bonnymuir Works to Alexander Duthie of Ruthrieston. George Turnbull was still the tenant.

1878 – George Turnbull, brick and tile maker, Denny, Bonnybridge – TO Lower Greenhill Station.

1878 – George Turnbull, Bonnymuir Brick and Tile Works, Bonnybridge.

1880 – It is believed that George Turnbull bought the Bonnymuir Works at this time. It was described locally as a Brickworks and Bone Mill. Bones from the local slaughterhouses were calcined in the kilns then ground up into a bonemeal fertiliser.

1882 – George Turnbull, Fire Brick Maker, Bonnymuir Works, Bonnybridge.

1882 – George Turnbull had a sister, Margaret who married James Dougall (later formed James Dougall & Sons, Bonnyside Fireclay Works). They had several children including Margaret and Janet who became partners with George Turnbull around 1882.

1882 1885 – George Turnbull, brick and tile maker, Bonnybridge.

2/05/1886 – Falkirk – The Edinburgh International Exhibition – James Dougall & Sons, Bonnymuir Fire Brick Works, Bonnybridge. Court 2 – among the ‘Pottery glass and kindred industries’ occupy stand 60, where they show fire clay, gannister bricks for steel and iron furnaces, special stoppers, nozzles of pipes for steel furnaces, fire clay blocks, grate and stove backs etc. (Note SBH – I think this should refer to Bonnyside, not Bonnymuir – to clarify)

1886 – 1887 – George Turnbull, Fire Brick Maker, Bonnymuir Works, Bonnybridge.

05/03/1887 – Falkirk Herald – Columbian Stove Works grand festival took place in the Columbian Literary Hall. 27th anniversary. among those attending was Mr George Dougall, Bonnymuir Brickworks …

27/08/1887 – Falkirk Herald – Lamentable Blasting Accident.  On Monday, a man named Charles Robertson, residing Broad Street, Denny, was engaged blasting in the clay pit connected with the Bonnymuir Brick Works, Bonnybridge (Messrs Griffiths & Company), an unjammed charge of 7 lbs. of powder suddenly exploded, with the result that both Robertson’s eyes were destroyed, and he has been rendered blind. Both his arms were also much burned and his left one was broken, and he was likewise injured about the body. It would appear that Robertson was engaged in preparing the charge when it is supposed that a spark from his lamp caused the explosion. The poor man was removed to his home and was attended to by Dr Benny. Robertson lies in a painful and dangerous state. He is about fifty years of age and has wife three children depending upon him.

24/09/1887 – Falkirk Herald – Wanted a fire brick burner for Bonnymuir Brickworks, Bonnybridge. One accustomed to grate brick moulds preferred. Apply at the works.

1889 – George Turnbull dies and his business is taken over by Margaret and Janet Dougall who employ Henry Bruce to manage the Bonnymuir Works. Robert Dougall also joins this partnership.

1893 – 1896 – Bonnybridge Brick and Tile Works. George Turnbull. Silica Fireclay Works.

07/04/1894 – Falkirk Herald – Death of Alexander Campbell. It is with regret that we have to record the death of Mr Alexander Campbell, underground manager to the firm of James Dougall & Son, Bonnymuir Brickworks, (Bonnyside?) which sad event took place last Saturday. Deceased, who was an elder in the Decoy Free Church, was of a quiet and obliging disposition and was held in high esteem by his employers and those with whom he associated. His remains were interred in Falkirk Cemetery on Wednesday.

Below – 1896 – Bonnymuir Brick and Tile Works.

1901 – Directory of Clayworkers – George Turnbull & Co, Bonnymuir Works, Bonnybridge.

1901 – 1904 – Bonnybridge Brick and Tile Works, George Turnbull.

10/01/1903 – Falkirk Herald – Theft of a Watch and Chain. Two Bonnybridge boys, named Robert Cooper and George Scott, were charged with having, on the 27th December, stolen a watch and chain, belonging, to a workman Bonnymuir Brickworks. They pleaded guilty. The Procurator Fiscal said that these two little boys were playing about the brickworks, where they had no business to be, and they walked off with a watch belonging to one of the workmen. The watch, which was sold by the boys for sixpence, was hanging about the complainer’s clothes at his working place. They had been in trouble before and had been cautioned. The father of one of the boys said he did not seem to realise what he was doing, or that he was in any fault. He (the father) knew nothing about the matter till four days after the theft was committed. The Sheriff, severely admonishing the boys, said that they must have known what they were doing, although the fact that they made 6d out of the watch showed that they did not realise the value of it.

03/05/1913 – Falkirk Herald – An Amazon squabble. Conducting themselves in a disorderly manner, quarrelling and fighting and committing a breach of the peace on the road opposite Bonnymuir Brickworks, on 16th April, was the charge preferred against four young women named Shanks and Agnes Shanks, brick workers, Duke Street, Denny and Janet Cowie and Helen Cowie, Quartette Cottage. Each of them pleaded guilty. Wm. Stevenson, solicitor, who appeared for the two first accused, said that all four girls were employed the same works. It seemed that it was the custom, when any girl ran short of clay, to go to another girl and get a piece. On the day in question, the elder of the Shanks girls went to get a piece of clay where the Cowies were working. Without any provocation whatever, one of the Cowies struck one of his clients. On the way home afterwards, they had a fight. Mr H. P. Black, solicitor, Falkirk. for the two Cowies, said that he could not agree that his clients were responsible for the row. The position was that the quarrel was not entirely attributable to the question of the getting of the clay. The four had not been on friendly relations in the works for some considerable time. The Sheriff said it was a sad spectacle to see four respectable young women standing in a court of justice accused of a breach of the peace. He fined each 2s 6d, or three days imprisonment.

07/06/1913 – Falkirk Herald – Death of ‘Heather Aggie’. Early on Wednesday morning Agnes Thomson or Hannah, wife of George Hannah, was found dead in one of the kilns of Bonnymuir Brickwork. For many years past she, accompanied by her husband, had frequented the district selling heather ringes (rings?). On Tuesday they had both been at Dennyloanhead, and on their return about nine o’clock they had retired to Bonnymair Brickworks to spend the night. They occupied separate kilns and about six o’clock in the morning George, on going to arouse his wife, found her dead. The police were notified, and the body was removed to Falkirk Infirmary. The deceased, who was her 64th year, was a native of Glasgow. During her long sojourn in the district, she made many friends, mainly by her kind and sympathetic nature. During the summer months, the elderly couple made their home on Bonnyhill Moor, and in the winter they were granted permission to lodge in the kilns of Bonnymuir Brickworks

Below – 1914 – Bonnymuir Brick and Tile Works, Bonnybridge.


05/08/1916 – Dundee Courier – New Scottish company. The following new joint-stock companies hare been registered in Scotland during this week: Dykehead Ganister and Firebrick Company, Bonnymuir Brickworks, Bonnybridge. Private company Capital, £10,000, in shares. Office—Dykehead, Bonnybridge.

1919 – Dykehead Ganister and Fireclay Company Ltd is purchased by Gerald Hooper of Joseph Kimber and Co, London. Thomas Walker is appointed Works Manager of Dykehead and Bonnymuir Works.

1923 – Castings Magazine – Advert – Source Falkirk Museum and Archives – George Turnbull and Company, Dykehead Brickworks, Bonnybridge. Established 1839 – still open in 1923?

Founder Miss Margaret Donald.

The works never became profitable and she eventually sold them to marry and emigrated to Australia. The site was later taken over by George Turnbull & Co.

The works stood on a Millstone Grit bed of clay and had their own mine just to the south of the works. When owned by George Turnbull, together with the Bonnymuir Tile Works they produced blast furnace linings, gas works blocks, grate back bricks, fire bricks, furnace blocks, cupola’s, ladles, boiler seat blocks, flue covers and ground ganister.

16/02/1924 – Falkirk Herald – An outbreak of fire occurred on Wednesday morning at Sunnybrae Terrace, the property of Messrs George Turnbull &  Co., Ltd, Bonnymuir Brickworks. The fire originated through one of the chimneys in the tenement catching fire, and the flames, in turn, caught the weatherboard at the gable and spread to the roof. The Bonnybridge Foundry Fire Brigade was immediately summoned and succeeded in extinguishing the flames before much material damage was done.

16/02/1924 – Falkirk Herald – Bonnybridge brick workers. Successful Function. On Friday evening last, the employees of Messrs George Turnbull & Co., Ltd., Bonnymuir and Dykehead Brickworks, and friends met in the Territorial Hall on the occasion of their annual social meeting and dance. A company numbering 110 sat down to supper. Mr F. C. Swallow, managing director, presided at the top table and was accompanied by Mr J. F. Cameron, Mr R. Swallow. Mr A. E. Hubbard, and Mr T. Easton. Full justice having been done to the excellent repast purveyed by the Co-operative Society, Ltd., The Chairman, in the course of a short address, said that the past year had been a trying one for many. The boom in trade they had all yearned for had not materialised, although, fortunately, for the population locally, the pinch had not been felt to the same extent as in other parts of the country. There were few things so pathetic as the spectacle presented by able-bodied men walking about the streets, willing to work, but denied employment owing to the stress of economic circumstances. Happily, the Dykehead and Bonnymuir establishment was favoured with good work. On behalf of Major Hopper, the chairman of the company, and his fellow directors, he desired to express their appreciation of all that their employees had done and were doing to ensure the success and prosperity of Bonnymuir and Dykehead Works Although they did not see them very often, the directors had such confidence in the efficiency of their managers, staff, and workmen that they did not need to watch them. On their periodic visits to the works they always found a happy group of workers. He sincerely trusted that their good trade would continue in 1924. (Applause.) An excellent programme was contributed to by Misses J. McMaster, N. Jeffrey, E. Knox, and J. Knox, and Messrs J, Pirie and McKim. The accompaniments were ably played by Mr J. Hope, Larbert. Votes of thanks to the firm and to the artistes were proposed Mr Cameron and W. Boak respectively and heartily responded to. An interesting feature of the proceedings was the presentation by the employees to Mr F C Swallow of two beautiful watercolour paintings. Mr McKim, who made the presentation said it was a very fortunate day for them when Mr Swallow became managing director of the works. He had shown to them, by his kind consideration and sympathetic manner, that he was a thorough gentleman. He had much pleasure in asking Mr Swallow to accept the gifts. Mr Swallow, in reply, said that the occasion was a surprise to him and that he thought it was more than he deserved. He would, however, try to live up to the excellent character which Mr McKim had given him. The dance which followed was enthusiastically entered into, fine music being supplied by the Hope Orchestra, Larbert. The duties of M.C.’s were efficiently discharged by Messrs R. Miller and J. McLuskie.

04/09/1926 – Falkirk Herald – On the occasion of her leaving the employ of Messrs George Turnbull & Co., Ltd., Bonnymuir Brickworks, to be married, Miss Bessie Dempster has been presented with a handsome mahogany timepiece, suitably inscribed, from her fellow-workers in the office and the employees of the firm. Mr Thomas Easton, a commercial manager, presided over the gathering, and the gift was handed over by Mr Wm. McClusky, works manager. Mr Easton, on behalf of the recipient, suitably replied.

14/03/1931 – Falkirk Herald – Brickwork employees entertained – Last Friday evening the directors of Messrs George Turnbull & Co., Ltd., entertained the employees of Bonnymuir and Dykehead Brickworks to dinner and dance in the Masonic Hall. After the company had partaken of a splendid dinner, which was daintily served by the catering staff of the local Co-operative Society, Ltd., Mr F. C. Swallow, managing director of the firm, extended welcome to the guests and expressed the hope that the evening would prove an enjoyable one for all present. Mr J, F. Cameron then asked Mr Swallow to convey to his co-directors the thanks of the guests for their kindness on this further occasion. Thereafter the tables were removed, and a concert party, composed entirely of employees from both works, submitted a very enjoyable programme. A vote of thanks to the artistes was heartily given on the call of Mr Swallow and neatly replied to by Mr William Boak. Mr William McLuskie paid a similar compliment to Mr Swallow for the capable way he had presided over the gathering. The hall was then cleared for dancing, which was carried on until an appropriate hour. The music was supplied by Mr Jack Shearer’s Ramblers dance band, that created a good impression upon their first appearance in the village last week, while extra numbers were tastefully played by Mrs J. Walker, who also acted accompanist the concert. The duties of M.C. were ably and jointly fulfilled by Messrs William McLuskie and J. Pirrie.

09/02/1935 – Falkirk Herald – The staffs and employees of Messrs George Turnbull & Company’s Bonnymuir and Dykehead Fireclay Works were entertained in the Public Hall last Friday evening when the old-established firm held its annual social meeting and dance. The hall was tastefully decorated for the occasion, and at the commencement, Mr Thomas Easton, manager, introduced Mr R. A. Kirkby, the new managing director of the firm, who was accompanied on the platform by Mrs Kirkby. Mr Kirkby then took the chair, and later in the evening, in the course of a general review of past activities, present trade conditions, and future prospects of refractory materials, sounded an encouraging note of optimism. As bearing upon the firm’s future policy, he said that the Company intended to develop the firebrick trade at Dykehead Works, by making extensive alterations. This announcement was enthusiastically received by the assembly of employees. Later, Mr J. A. Cameron, agent for the firm, proposed a vote of thanks to the directors for such generosity as they continued to show from year to year by this annual event. A splendid concert programme was then sustained by the employees, at the close of which votes of thanks were given on the call of Messrs W. McLuskie and W. Boak, foremen of Bonnymuir and Dykehead Works respectively. The hall was then cleared for dancing, which was carried on to the tuneful music by Mr T. Fowler’s Band. The catering was in the hands of the local Cooperative Society, Ltd.

20/03/1937 – Falkirk Herald – The directors of George Turnbull & Co.. Ltd. held their annual social evening for the employees of their Bonnymuir and Dykehead Works last Friday. A number of guests were unable to be present on account of the bad weather conditions. Owing to the indisposition of R. A. Kirkby, managing director, who has just undergone an operation. Mr C. A. G. Thomson, director, presided at the dinner. He was accompanied by Mrs Thomson. During his remarks, he spoke of the alterations that had taken place at the Dykehead Works, and also of the improved trading conditions in the firebrick industry. He thought that the outlook was very bright and would mean steady work for all concerned. A very enjoyable entertainment was then given by a number of employees of both works. Mr Jas. F. Cameron, in proposing a vote of thanks to the directors, mentioned how much everyone enjoyed this annual reunion. W. C. Priddy thanked all the artistes who had taken part in the entertainment and Mr W. McLuskie proposed a vote of thanks to Mr Thomson, the chairman, which was enthusiastically given. The rest of the evening was spent in dancing to music supplied by the Lyric Dance Band. The catering was in the hands of the Bonnybridgo Co-operative Society and was up to their usual high standard.

15/11/1941 – Falkirk Herald – Slept in brick kilns. Three elderly men, James Sinclair, Patrick Ward and Peter Fitch, all in custody, appeared separately before Hon. Sheriff- Substitute James Allan at Falkirk Sheriff Court on Thursday and pleaded guilty to charges of having, on November 12, at Bonnymuir Brickworks, Bonnyside Road, Bonnybridge, occupied by the Glenboig Union Fireclay Co., Ltd., lodged in a kiln without the permission of the owners. Sinclair admitted four previous convictions, while Ward and Fitch each admitted three previous convictions. Mr A. G. Anderson, Procurator Fiscal, said these men were not only a nuisance to the owners of the brickworks, but were a danger to themselves. They were each sentenced to 21 days imprisonment.

Below – 1946 – Bonnymuir Brickworks.

18/06/1955 – Falkirk Herald – At lunch break on Monday, Mr William Boak brickworks manager, Bonnybridge Foundry, was met by the employees in the department and presented with a carved oak musical cigarette box and also a necklace for Mrs Boak, on the occasion of their silver wedding. Alexander Forsyth, under foreman, in handing over the gifts expressed the good wishes of those present. Mr Boak suitably replied. (Note – SBH – Although Mr Boak is referred to on this page at the entry dated 14/03/1931, I am uncertain if this reference is for the Bonnymuir and Dykehead Works or perhaps he has now moved to the Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay  Works?)

1960 – The Bonnymuir Works continued to make grate backs and baby bricks after WW2 but they were closed in 1960.


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