Brucefield Brickworks, Kennet, Clackmannanshire

Brucefield Brickworks, Kennet, Clackmannanshire.

Believed to stamp bricks marked ‘B’Field’, ‘Brucefield’, ‘Kennet’ and ‘Dunsmuir Clackmannan’ and possibly ‘Taylor Brothers’


1905 – Brucefield Mine was commenced.

1924 – Brucefield Brickworks established according to Scottish Industrial Archaeology Survey 1985. This is based upon the Bradley and Craven brick making machine order book showing that they supplied machinery to the works at this time.

1928 – Allan, Dunsmuir & Co Ltd have an address as Brucefield Colliery.

1932 – Brucefield Colliery floated with a capital of £32, 000.

11/04/1933 – Devon Valley Tribune – Licensing court for the County of Clackmannan … For renewal of transferred certificates. John Boyle, Brickworks manager, 1 Kennet Village, Clackmannan. Royal Oak Hotel, Clackmannan. Public house. Landlord John Boyle Jnr.

18/02/1935 – Dundee Evening Telegraph – Messrs A Dunsmuir Sons & Co are detailed as owning the Brucefield Colliery following an extensive fire there.

1936 – Allan, Dunsmuir & Co Ltd have an address as Brucefield Colliery.

Below – 05/03/1936 – Dundee Evening Telegraph – Court case – Messrs Charles Wood and Son, Solicitors Kirkcaldy against Brucefield Collieries. Pursuers state that between 1931 and 1935 they acted as solicitors for Brucefield Collieries. The court case was over a legal dispute over the purchase of the Brucefield Colliery and brickworks.

c. 1942 – 1945 – The brickworks were owned by the Fordel Mains Colliery Co, Midlothian and possibly earlier.

Below – 1944 – 1967 – The Brucefield Brickworks are believed depicted to the top left middle of the map below. The kiln is in the region of 110 m long x 10 m wide and is likely to have been a single-chambered draw arch kiln similar to that at the nearby Cherryton Brickworks.

1947 – Works were taken over by the National Coal Board. (Note – SBH – It is strange no bricks marked NCB Brucefield have so far been found and recorded as the National Coal Board normally stamped their bricks BCB then the relevant brickworks).

Below – 1948 – Brucefield Colliery which, according to Canmore was also the location of the Brucefield Brickworks. The buildings top middle appear to be the kiln and associated buildings as per the 1961 map below.

1950 – Bradley and Craven supply machinery to Taylor Brothers, Brucefield.

07/07/1951 – St Andrews Citizen –  Scarcity of bricks in St Andrews. NCB asked if they can transport from elsewhere but they state that their brickworks including Brucefield and Meta were heavily committed and could not help.

Below – 11/09/1959 – Alloa Advertiser – (Many thanks to Maureen Cook for sending in this article).

The man who made so many bricks – he can look along to Clackmannan and say “most of the new houses there were built out of “Brucefield bricks” has a puzzle connected with his trade. In the front garden, there is a brick marked “Clackmannan 1851,” which was dug up on the Tower Brae. He would like to know where it was made.

Mr Boyle in his long working life, can certainly say he has been making his mark in the world. For a thousand years to come and more people will be able to look at the name Brucefield or Cherryton on a brick, and so see something in which he had a part.

Since Mr John Boyle came to the wee county in 1925 he has been responsible for the making of 160,000,000 bricks, enough to house 400,000 people in 3-apartment council houses; or to rebuild all the council houses in the County fourteen times; now he has retired, but if anyone offers him the job of designing and building another brickwork he will have a go at it, 81 years old or not. It’s been a long time since Mr Boyle has turned his hand to the making of bricks; he was more or less born into the trade, for his father and his relations in Portobello district were all employed in
the clay trade. Some made flower pots, some made stone lemonade bottles which had not then been replaced by glass.

He was eleven years old when he set to work standing the “green” bricks so that they did not stick to the floor of the kiln, then he went on to the actual making of the bricks, then onto the machines, then onto the burning of them. Always he had the idea that he would make his own kiln to his own design and he was to live to see this dream fulfilled several times.

He first used the clay that came from Grangewood Colliery in Northumberland, there, the kilns were designed to stand the very high temperatures necessary for firing the linings of steel furnaces. They were completely successful but Mr Boyle was not quite so successful in obtaining a fair return for his brains and his work.

Mr and Mrs Boyle and their family left the smallholding they had in Northumberland, with its memories grey and gay like the memory of the day the turkey stole the margarine, and Mr Boyle had to eat his toast dry – and came back to Scotland, to the Wee County. Here he set to work to make the Brucefield Brickworks. He had literally to make it from the ground up; he and the workers under him made the bricks from the clay from the mine and built them up into piles 10,000 at a time and fired them where they stood, then built them into the kilns in which to fire other bricks.

When he started work in the County, a big part of his job was finding a market for the bricks they made and Brucefield bricks competed very successfully with bricks from the established works
over in Fife. Some of them went into the Gaumont Cinema after they had been tested successfully against their rivals. It’s worth mentioning that all the brickworks he built to his own specifications are working to this day completely satisfactorily, and that if he got the chance of building another he would make no more than minor alterations. By his skill, he saved his employers a considerable sum of money, since it was much cheaper to build the kilns than to buy the bricks and have them built. In all his working life he never had an accident, even when they were building the 125-foot chimney of the Brucefield Works, you need a high chimney in order to get a powerful draught to remove the heavy moisture-laden hot air from the bricks being fired.

In a place of honour on the walls of their cottage in Clackmannan is the certificate, Mr Boyle received from the Coal Board on Thursday, it reads “For long and meritorious service, presented to John Boyle in recognition and appreciation of 70 years loyal and efficient service of the coal industry and the country. It is signed by J.Bowman, Chairman of the Board, and R. W. Parker, Chairman of the Divisional Board.

But Mrs Boyle thinks the finest thing of all is the bouquet of pink and white carnations she was presented with; as a keen gardener herself, she appreciates the perfection of the blooms. Their front garden, the first one in the row in Kennet as you come into it from Alloa direction is a small masterpiece; and their back garden of Kennet is getting on for the size of a small field is planted in
flowering shrubs and small trees.

1960‘s – Brucefield Colliery is believed to have closed in 1961 prior to the Brucefield Brickworks closing sometime later in the decade.

1961 – 1962 – A directory of British clay products and manufacturers – Brucefield Brickworks (see NCB Scottish Division, Fife – East and West and Alloa area). Common bricks. Tradename – Kennet.

Below – 25/06/1970 – The Glasgow Herald – Makers of composition bricks at Avonbridge and Brucefield Works and sole distributors of Dockra, Cults and Fort William bricks. (Note – SBH – Are these the same Brucefield Works. This date seems to contradict the Canmore date for the brickworks closure i.e in the 1960s).

Taylor Brothers Avonbridge

c.1977 – Works closed and demolished.

Unknown date and source – The late Mr John Boyle. On Monday there quietly passed away quietly a man who between 1925 and his retirement in 1959 was responsible for the making of a hundred and sixty million bricks, enough to house 400,000 people in three-apartment council houses. Mr John Boyle came of a family which had long been associated with the clay trade, and was eleven years old when he was put to work standing green bricks. After living in Northumberland, where Mr and Mrs Boyle had a smallholding, he came to Scotland where Mr Boyle set to work to build Brucefield Brickworks from the ground up, using bricks burned as the job went on.

After twelve years at Brucefield, he moved to Cherryton to build the brickworks there then came back to Brucefield during the war. He retired in 1959 and was presented with a certificate for long and ???

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