Brighton Brick and Tile Works, Cupar, Fife

Brighton Brick and Tile Works, Cupar. (Note – SBH – These works may also have been known as Trafford Bank Brickworks).

(Note – SBH – It is often difficult to determine whether research results refer to the Cupar Muir Works, the Brighton Works or indeed the Trafford Bank Works so all 3 should be read in conjunction with each other. If anyone can clarify then please get in touch).

16/04/1847 – Edinburgh Gazette – The Estates of David Smith, builder and brick and tile maker in Cupar-Fife, were sequestrated on 15th April 1847. The first deliverance is dated the 15th of April 1847. The meeting to elect interim factor is to be held at 12 o’clock noon, on Saturday the 24th day of April 1847 within McNab’s Inn in Cupar-Fife, and the meeting to elect the trustee or trustees in succession and commissioners is to be held at 12 o’clock noon, on Tuesday the 18th day of May 1847, within McNab’s Inn in Cupar-Fife. A composition may be offered at this latter meeting, and to entitle creditors to the first dividend, their oaths and grounds of debt must be lodged on or before the 16th day of October 1847. All future advertisements relating to this sequestration will be published in the Edinburgh Gazette alone. James L. Hill, W.S. Agent, 8, N. St. David Street, Edinburgh. Edinburgh, April 16, 1847.

10/06/1847 – Fife Herald – For sale at the brickworks, Cupar, a large quantity of bricks at reasonable prices. Cupar 8th June 1847.

1852 – Mitchell & Duncan, brickmakers, Brighton, Cupar.

1853 – 1855 – ScotlandsPlaces – An extensive brick & tile work with suitable sheds, kilns etc. It affords employment to about 30 persons. Tenanted by Mr A. Mitchell Cupar: the property of Robert Smith Esqr.

05/05/1853 – Fife Herald – To Brick Makers – Contractors wanted for making about four hundred thousand bricks during this season. Working tools furnished by employers. Application made by either letter or personally to Mitchell & Duncan. Brighton Tileworks, Cupar – Fife 03/05/1853.

Below – 1854 – Brighton Brick and Tile Works, Cupar.


15/02/1856 – Montrose, Arbroath and Brechin Review – Fearful hurricane – The Brighton Tileworks near Cupar have sustained serious injury.

13/04/1859 – Caledonian Mercury – Another entire skeleton of a seal has just been discovered in the Pleistocene or upper tertiary brick clay of Stratheden and in the same pit that yielded the fine specimen described by Mr Page at the Leeds meeting of the British Association, and now in the cases of the Edinburgh Museum. The present skeleton, also that of a young animal is somewhat larger than the former, being fully three feet long but it is scarcely in such good preservation, having been struck through by the spade before detection. Along with this seal, which seems to be a variety of the phoca vitulina, there has likewise been discovered the skeleton of a large duck that shows the closest affinities to the genus oldemia or surf ducks of northern latitudes – thus further corroborating the great fact of the more boreal character of our climate during the close of the Pleistocene period. The Brigton Tileworks,(Brighton) where these remains have been found, are about ten miles inland and on a clay bed that ranges from 100 to 150 feet above medium tide level thus indicating a time when our island sat 150 feet deeper in the waters and when cur chief straths and carses were shallow, friths and bays, the haunts of seals and sea fowl, just as are the fiords of Greenland at the present day. Two thousand years ago the Romans encamped high and dry on the same clay bed at Chapelwell, some five miles further down the strath, ages before the ancient Britons fabricated their cinerary urns from the same clay; how many thousand years before that when this clay was being deposited as a fine impalpable silt in the waters of the ocean, we leave to the curious in Creational chronology. As the Brighton clay-pits are evidently in the site of an eddy in the ancient estuary, many additional remains are likely to be turned up, and if so they are sure to be taken care of by the proprietors, and by Mr James Mill, the intelligent foreman of the works, to whom science is mainly indebted for the preservation of what has been already discovered.

25/08/1859 – Fifeshire Journal – Cupar Muir. Rejoicings. Monday last was quite a gala day with the workers at the Brighton Brick and Tile Works, on the occasion of the marriage of their much-respected manager, Mr Mill, with Miss Mary Lawrie of Cupar. The workers, to the number of sixty, assembled in the square at the work during the day, and having formed into marching order, headed with banners and an instrumental band, they escorted the happy bridegroom to Cupar, when the ceremony was to be performed. The Company again returned to the works, where they were served with refreshments in abundance and having toasted the health of the bride and bridegroom, music and dancing was kept up with great spirit till evening.

01/02/1865 – The Scotsman – Clayfield next to  Brighton Brick and Tile Works for sale. Desirable small estate and clayfield for sale to be sold by public roup, in the Royal Hotel, Cupar-Fife, on Tuesday, 21st February 1865 at two o’clock afternoon. The property of Trafford Bank, formerly called “Barnbaugh” situated about half-a-mile to the West of Cupar, on the sloping bank south of the road to Cupar Muir, and the mansion house of Ferrybank. The lands extend to 45 acres imperial of thereby, about 11 acres of which are let for agricultural purposes to Mr Andrew Carstairs till Martinmas next.  The rest of the property forms the well-known brick and tile works of Brighton, which is let to Messrs Mitchell & Duncan till Martinmas 1866. It has been ascertained that the property contains a large supply of excellent clay, available in connection with the present brickwork buildings, for another lease of 10 years duration. The present rent of the agricultural subject and the average rent and Lordship of the brick and tile work for the last six years amount together to £217, The Ministers’ stipend payable from the lands amounted last year to £10, 6s, 9d.  The other public burdens are moderate. The property will be exposed in one lot at the upset price of £4000, and if not sold, then in two lots, as follows, viz: -Lot First, consisting of about 20 Acres Imperial, including the site of the present brickfield, the land south of the railway (which intersects the property), and to the North of it containing the workable clay, at the upset price of £1500; and (provided lot first, be sold), lot second, consisting of about 25 acres imperial, lying to the North of the railway, at the upset price of £2100. For further particulars apply to Messrs Baxter & Mitchell W.S., Edinburgh; Messrs Stevenson & Lycett Solicitors, Manchester; or to Thomas & Mitchell, Writer, Cupar who will exhibit the title-deeds and articles of roup, and a plan of the Estate, showing the extent and depth of the clay and the boundaries of the two lots.

Below – 11/04/1867 – Fife Herald – Brighton Brick and Tile Works, by Cupar, Fife. The company carrying on business under the firm of Mitchell & Duncan, brick and tile makers at the above work, has been dissolved by mutual consent as of the 10th Day of April 1867.  Those indebted to the Company are requested to settle immediately with Mr Arthur Russell., Banker, Cupar, who will also settle any claims against the company.  William Younger, Archibald Mitchell, Trustees John Mitchell, of the late A. Mitchell, Archibald Mitchell and Henry Duncan with reference to the above, Henry Duncan, the surviving partner, begs to intimate that the Brighton Brick and Tile Works will be carried on as heretofore, under the firm of Henry Duncan & Son, and that all orders entrusted to them will meet with prompt attention.

New brick and tile works. James Mill, Manager of Brighton Brick and Tile Works for Messrs Mitchell & Duncan during the last 14 years, begs to announce to his friends and the public generally, that he has secured a lease of the field of clay immediately to the West of that occupied by the late firm, where he intends carrying on business on his own account, and trusts by his usual attention to business, and supplying a first-class article at a moderate price, to be favoured with a share of public patronage. Brick and Tile Works,  Cupar-Muir, April 1867.

mitchell-and-duncan brighton-brick-works-dissolve-1867

25/04/1867 – Fife Herald – Brighton Brick and Tile Works, by Cupar, Fife. The firm of Mitchell & Duncan, Brighton Brick and Tile Works, Cupar-Fife, having been dissolved.  Henry Duncan, the arriving partner, begs to intimate that the work will be carried on as formerly under the firm of Henry Duncan & Son, who will execute with promptitude all orders which may be entrusted to them.

Below – 15/08/1867 – Fife Herald – Advert Henry Duncan & Sons Brighton Brick and Tile Works. Brighton Brick and Tile Works, by Cupar, Fife established upwards of twenty years. Henry Duncan & Son (late Mitchell & Duncan), Brick and tile manufacturers respectfully direct attention to their large stock of drain pipes from 11/2 to 12 inches diameter, roofing tiles, bricks for paving and building purposes, red clay chimney cans, &c.  The quality of Brighton brick and tiles has been well-known in the district during the past twenty years, and the present stock having been carefully manufactured under the superintendence of an experienced practical Manager, will be found well worthy the attention of landed proprietors, farmers, builders, contractors, and others. Fire clay goods. Henry Duncan & Son, in addition to the above, have on hand a stock of the best description of fire clay goods, consisting on common and ornamental chimney cans, vent linings, bricks, sewerage pipes, &c.  Any article of fire-clay manufacture not in stock supplied on the shortest notice. All communications are requested to be addressed to the firm.  Henry Duncan & Son, Brighton Tile Works by Cupar, Fife.


09/01/1868 – Fife Herald – At Brighton Brick and Tile Works on the last night of the year, the firm of Messrs Henry Duncan & Son gave their workmen their annual treat. Mr Horne, the manager, presided and after the company had partaken of some dainty fare, toast and sentiment became the order of the evening. In this manner, the evening was spent very harmoniously. All were highly pleased with the proceedings.

05/01/1871 – Fife Herald – Supper. The employes of the Brighton Brick and Tile Work were entertained to supper by their employer Mr T. Duncan, in his own house, Crossgate, Cupar, Saturday night. After the usual toasts had been pledged, Mr Braid, who occupied the chair, proposed the health of their worthy employer, which was drunk with all the honours. Toasts, song, and sentiment were given in rapid succession and an unusually pleasant evening was spent.

09/01/1873 – Fife Herald – Supper. On Tuesday evening the workmen employed at Brighton Brick and Tile Works were, along with their wives, entertained to an excellent supper by their employer, Mr T. Duncan, in his own bouse at Brighton. Mr Wilson, a friend of Mr Duncan’s occupied the chair, and Mr Wm. Braid, one of the workmen, discharged the duties of the croupier. After ample justice had been done to the supper, the health of Mr and Mrs Duncan was heartily pledged. The remainder of the evening was pleasantly spent with song, toast, and sentiment.

04/04/1873 – Dundee Courier – Reference to Mr Thomas Duncan, Brighton Brick and Tile Works being on the board of the Cupar (Landward) Education Board.

12/06/1873 – Fife Herald – Reduction of the hours of labour. The employees of James Mill, Cupar Muir Brick and Tile Works (numbering upwards of fifty hands) waited upon their employer the other day and asked reduction of their working hours from 57 to 51 hours per week, without any reduction of pay. The workmen at Brighton Tile Works (Messrs Duncan & Son) also made like demand, and in both cases, the request was granted.

08/01/1874 – Fife Herald – Thomas Duncan of Henry Duncan & Sons, Brighton Brick and Tile Works holds annual supper. On the evening of Tuesday, the 6th inst., Mr T Duncan, of the firm of Henry Duncan & Son, Brighton Brick and Tile Works, by Cupar, with his usual generosity, entertained the work people in his employment, along with their wives and sweethearts, in the house of Mr Wm. Wilson, superintendent of the works. At the appointed hour Mrs Wilson had a substantial supper served up in excellent style. Mr Wilson occupied the chair, Mr Wm. Braid acting as a croupier. After doing ample justice to the good things prepared, the Chairman, in a few appropriate remarks, proposed “The Health of Mr Duncan and Household,” which was heartily responded to. Other toasts went round, followed by songs, recitations, and other rational amusements so that a very happy evening was spent. At a timeous hour, the party broke up, highly delighted at this manifestation of good feeling between employer and employed.

16/07/1874 – Fifeshire Journal – A deposit of animal bones has been found at the Brighton Tilework under 18 feet of clay. They are in good preservation, and well worth the notice of antiquarians.

25/03/1875 – Fifeshire Journal – On Friday morning the engine of the ten o’clock passenger train from Dundee stuck at Cupar Railway Station, something having gone wrong with one of the cylinders. On the steam being applied the engine was powerless to pull the carriages, and there was no other alternative than put it into a siding. A goods engine, which had been shunting at Brighton Brickworks, was brought up the line and attached to the passenger train, which resumed the journey after a quarter of an hour’s delay.

09/08/1878 – Dundee Courier – Mr Thomas Duncan dies following an accident at the Brighton Brick and Tile Works. Yesterday morning, between ten and eleven o’clock, a distressing accident occurred at the Brighton Brickworks at Cupar Muir, which terminated fatally. Shortly after work had been resumed Mr Thomas Duncan, the proprietor, was engaged in the engine room when in some way he got entangled with the flywheel, and before the engine could be stopped he was severely injured in the arms and knees.  On medical assistance being called in, it was found necessary to amputate the right leg. Mr Duncan, who was supposed to be doing well after the amputation, took a sudden change and expired at about five o’clock in the afternoon. He was a comparatively young man, being about 35 years of age, and was well known and highly respected in Cupar, where he for many years occupied a position in one of the banking offices. The deceased gentleman leaves a widow and five of a family.

15/08/1878 – Fifeshire Journal – On Thursday morning a melancholy accident occurred at Brighton Brickworks, Cupar Muir. Shortly after ten o’clock, while Mr Thomas Duncan, the proprietor, was putting a belt on a small pulley, his clothes were caught, and his body apparently dragged round several times. As soon as his cries were heard the engine was stopped, and his clothes had to be cut in pieces before he could be extricated. Drs Whitelaw, Brown, Macdonald, and Mackie were speedily in attendance, and on an examination having been made it was found that it would be necessary to amputate the right leg, which was dreadfully lacerated above the knee. The external injuries on the other parts of the body including the arms were slight. Mr Duncan gradually sank after the operation and died at four o’clock in the afternoon. The deceased, who was 32 years of age, leaves a wife and four of a family to mourn his untimely end. Mr Duncan was well known and had a large circle of friends in the county.

31/08/1878 – Dundee Courier – Labourers – wanted immediately, a few labourers. Apply to the manager, Brighton Brick and Tile Works, Cupar.

10/12/1878 – Edinburgh Gazette – The Estates of Henry Duncan and Son, brick and tile makers, Brighton, Cupar, and of the late Thomas Duncan, brick and tile maker there, the sole partner of that firm, as such partner, and as an individual, were sequestrated on 9th December 1878, by the Sheriff of Fife. The first deliverance is dated 9th December 1878.
The meeting to elect the trustee and commissioners to be held at one o’clock afternoon, on Wednesday, 18th December 1878, within the Procurators’ Library, County Buildings, Cupar. A composition may be offered at this meeting; and to entitle creditors to the first dividend, their oaths and grounds of debt must be lodged on or before 9th April 1879.
All future Advertisements relating to this sequestration will be published in the Edinburgh Gazette alone. W. A. & J. M. Taylor, Writers, Cupar.

11/12/1878 – Scotch bankrupts – Edinburgh Evening News – Sequestration – Henry Duncan and Sons, brick and tile makers, Brighton, Cupar.

09/01/1879 – Fife Herald – Brighton Tileworks, Cupar, Fife. The trustee on Messrs Henry Duncan & Sons estate has resumed the sale and manufacture of drain pipes, roof tiles &c. There is excellent stock on hand, and all orders addressed to Messrs Henry Duncan & Son, Brighton Tileworks, Cupar; or to the trustee, will have prompt attention. Alex. Adamson, Draper, Cupar, Trustee. Cupar, January 1879.

14/01/1879 – Edinburgh Gazette – Alexander Adamson, Draper, Cupar, Trustee on the Sequestrated Estates of Henry Duncan and Son, brick and tile makers, Brighton, Cupar,
and of the late Thomas Duncan, brick and tile maker there, the only partner of said firm, as such partner, and as an individual, hereby intimates that at the meeting of creditors, held upon the 2d day of January current, Mrs Janet Gilmour Whyte or Duncan, widow of the said Thomas Duncan and his general disponee and executrix, offered to the creditors a composition on the whole debts due by the bankrupt estates of four shillings per pound, payable by two equal instalments at two and four months respectively from the date of her discharge and declaration that the sequestration is at an end, with security; and that the creditors present unanimously entertained said offer for consideration; and notice is hereby given that it will be decided upon at a meeting of the creditors, to be held within the Procurators’ Library, County Buildings, Cupar, upon Friday the 24th day of January current, at one o’clock afternoon. Alexander Adamson, Trustee. Cupar, 13th January 1879.

Below – 19/06/1879 – Fife Herald and 06/11/1879 – Fife Herald – Mrs Thomas Duncan is carrying on the Brighton Brick and Tile Works at Cupar. Mrs Thomas Duncan is carrying on the above works on her own account, in the name of the late Firm of Henry Duncan & Son, and hopes to be favoured with a continuance of the liberal patronage bestowed on her late husband. There is at present on hand a good stock of bricks, roofing tiles, fireclay goods and all Sizes of drain pipes. Orders addressed to the Firm will have prompt attention. For the convenience of gentlemen attending the markets, Mrs Duncan has been kindly permitted to refer to Mr James Martin, Priestfield and Mr John Simson, Burntisland who attend Markets a Cupar, Milnathort, Kirkcaldy, Perth, or to Mr Alex Adamson, Draper, Cupar; Any of whom will be glad to attend to Orders. Brighton, by Cupar, September 1879.


Below – 07/04/1881 – Fife Herald – Advert Henry Duncan & Son, Brighton Tile Works, Cupar.


1886 – Henry Duncan & Son, Brighton Tileworks, Cupar Muir, Cupar, Fife (Page 543).

24/09/1887 – Fife Free Press – A Successful Experiment. Three years and a half ago a small trout, three inches long, was taken from the Eden by one of the workmen employed at Mrs Duncan’s Brick and Tile Works, Cupar Muir, and placed in a pool at the works. It had good shelter as several pieces of broken drain pipe &c, were lying on the bottom, but it was doubtful whether it would survive as there was no constant inlet of water to the pool. Consequently, it was occasionally looked for, and was sometimes seen disporting itself. This year, however, it became known to several of the juvenile fraternity in the neighbourhood that a big trout was there, so with friendly intentions, traps were laid by them for its capture. On Friday the same workman who put the fish in the pool at the time mentioned quietly tilted up an 8-inch pipe by the end, and thus secured the “big troot,” as it was termed. It measured 20 inches long, 9 1/2 inches in girth, and weighed 2 lbs. 13 1/2 oz., and was in good condition. Can any lover of the gentle art furnish a similar instance regarding the growth of a trout?

15/08/1891 – Dundee Peoples Journal – Brighton Brick and Tile Works for sale. For sale, by private bargain, or to be let as a going concern, entry immediately. Brighton Brick and Tile Work, as carried on by Henry Duncan & Son, at Cupar Muir, within two miles of Cupar, consisting of 20 acres of land,  15 acres arable, with the unexhausted clay therein; Two dwelling houses, the remaining stock on the ground, range of sheds, kilns, machinery, plant, &c., in going order. The land is intersected by the North British Railway, with which there is a connection by a siding to the work, and affords ample room to erect works of other kinds, for which the position is favourable. No feu-duty. The foreman at the works will show the subjects, and further particulars will be got from W. A. Taylor, writer, Cupar, Fife.

30/11/1892 – Dundee Courier – Mrs Janet Gilmour White or Duncan widow of the late Thomas Duncan brick and tile manufacturer, Brighton Brick and Tile Works, Cupar, Fife. Meeting at 11 on 6th December in Dowells Rooms, 18 George Street, Edinburgh.

14/12/1892 – Dundee Courier – Mrs Janet Gilmour White or Duncan widow of the late Thomas Duncan brick and tile manufacturer, Brighton Brick and Tile Works, Cupar, Fife carrying on the business under the style of Henry Duncan & Son, of which firm she was the sole partner and now residing at 23 East London Street, Edinburgh. Examination in the Sheriff Courthouse on 21st December at two.

31/12/1892 – St Andrews Citizen – Bankruptcy examination of Mrs Duncan, Brighton Tileworks. Mrs Janet Gilmour White or Duncan widow of Thomas Duncan.

Bankruptcy examination of Mrs Duncan, Brighton Tileworks. Mrs Janet Gilmour White or Duncan, widow of Thomas Duncan, brick and tile manufacturer, Brighton Brick and Tile Works, Cupar, carrying on business there under the name of H. Duncan & Co., and now residing at 23 East London Street, Edinburgh, appeared for examination under sequestration in Edinburgh Bankruptcy Court last week. The bankrupt stated that her husband left nothing except the works and stock when he died. He was due about £1400.  She paid these debts and carried on the business. She required funds and got a cash credit for £2000 from the Royal Bank. The bonds over the property at her husband’s death amounted to £2200. The second bond-holder, whose bond was for £1500, insisted upon payment being made on the account, and she reduced it by the sum of £800.  For several years brick making had not been a paying business, and she had lost considerably in carrying on the business, and it at length became so bad that she decided to give it up.  The property at one time was valued at £5000 but was not now nearly worth that. She had spent a good deal of money in putting up sheds and putting in new machinery after her husbands death. She attributed her bankruptcy to the fact that her husband’s estate was insolvent at the time of this death, and to the bad state of the brickmaking trade for the last few years, and also to the fact of having a considerable sum to pay annually for interest on borrowed money, and to the depreciation on the machinery erected by her during the time she carried on the business. Sheriff Orphoot administered the statutory oath and appointed Mr C. J. Munro, C.A., trustee. The state of affairs showed liabilities amounting to £5591 2s 2d and assets to £2040 – leaving a deficiency of £3551 2s 2d.

Below – 1893 – 1894 – Brighton Brick and Tile Works, Cupar – Disused.


31/12/1896 – Dundee Courier – …At the Brighton Brick and Tile Works new and expensive machinery has been introduced and good business done …


03/02/1898 – Dundee Courier – Cupar. The only ascertained damage in the Cupar district by the violent storm on Tuesday night was the destruction of a wooden erection at Brighton Tileworks, near Cupar.  At 1.50 yesterday morning workmen heard the erection blown over with a terrific crash.  It was in the course of construction and was connected with the introduction at the works of a steam dryer for bricks and tiles, being the second erected in Scotland by the Wolfe Company, Aldergate, London.  The erection was 70 feet high, being 10 feet broad at the base and diminishing to 5 feet at the top.  Messrs H. Duncan & Son, proprietors of the works, are, with commendable enterprise, fitting up at present a steam tunnel dryer for bricks and tiles.

03/12/1898 – Dundee Courier – Fife County Council. Meeting at Cupar Muir … Mr George Smith, Brighton Brick and Tile Works presided … (Note – SBH – Brighton Brick and Tile Works, Cupar Muir or Cupar Muir Brick and Tile Works?)

Below – 13/03/1899 – Glasgow Herald – Brick and Tile Works situated on the Russell Mains Estate, Fife as occupied by George Smith & Sons.

02/05/1899 – Dundee Advertiser – Cupar Muir Brick and Tile Works. For sale, by public roup, within the Royal, Hotel, Cupar Fife, on Tuesday, the 2nd day of May 1899, at 12 o’clock Noon, as a going concern in one lot, the upset price of £1250 the brick and tile making business carried on by Messrs George Smith & Sons, together with the whole plant and machinery used in carrying on the work. Further particulars from the proprietors, or Gibson & Speaks. Solicitors, Kirkcaldy.

12/10/1905 – Dundee Evening Telegraph – Managers terrible death. During shunting operations at the Brighton Brick and Tile Works Cuparmuir this afternoon, Mr McGill, the manager of the works, was killed. Part of his clothing was caught by the lower portion of one of the waggons, and he was drawn in, several waggons passing over him and breaking both his legs. In addition, there was a nasty wound in his side. Medical aid was summoned from Cupar, but before the arrival of the ambulance van, the unfortunate man had died. McGill was a married man but had no family.

02/11/1907 – St Andrews Citizen – Death. At Brantford, Ontario, Canada West, on the 7th October, Charles Duncan, house furnisher,  in bis 76th year, second eldest son of the late Henry Duncan, Brighton Brick and Tile Works, Cupar-Fife.

06/02/1909 – Mr Henry Thomson, Percival, Buchhaven dies … Some years ago when the Brighton Brick and Tile Works at Cupar Muir were running, he was a director of the company …

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