Carfin Brickworks, Motherwell, North Lanarkshire

Canmore – Carfin Tileworks – 1859 – Depicted and named ‘Clay Pit’, unnamed clay pit and ‘Kiln’ and four roofed buildings, three of which are on the site of the later Carfin Brickworks.

By 1897, the tileworks clay pit had been abandoned and the kiln and L-shaped building demolished, as have the other three roofed buildings on the Carfin Brickworks site.

Canmore -This brickworks is not named on the OS Map surveyed 1896. However, one roofed building to the northwest of Carfin Colliery (Pits No. 1 and 2) is shown (at NS77087 58052 ). This became part of the expanded works (Ordnance Survey 6-inch map, Lanarkshire, edition 1938-9, sheet XII.SW). By the 1980s it had been demolished. Some bricks in the area are marked: CARFIN, ATC, and TAYLOR AUCHINLEA.

Alexander Gray Simpson was a coalmaster with interests in Wishaw, Carfin, Shotts and Irvine. Among titles, he was a founding member of the Glasgow Coal Exchange. Following the collapse in the coal trade, in 1880 he emigrated to America.

Carfin Brickworks, Motherwell, Lanarkshire.

His grand mansion house, known originally as Carfin Hall and later as Wrangholm Hall, built just to the west of Carfin colliery, survived until 1995 when in its derelict state it finally was demolished.

Below – 11/04/1851 – Glasgow Herald – Carfin Tileworks to let. Robert Cowan proprietor?

12/06/1854 – Glasgow Herald – Valuable mineral estate and going colliery to be sold. The estate of Carfin, lying to the northwest of the Edinburgh and Hamilton Road, in the Parish of Bothwell and County of Lanark and consisting of from 270 to 280 imperial acres, is for sale by a private bargain. This property, forming the ‘rise’ field of the Estate of Carfin is situated in the centre of the best mineral district in Scotland and contains the usual seams of coal, ironstone, fireclay and pavement … there are two good farms with suitable steadings, let to enterprising tenants as well as a tilework on the Estate. The surface rental of the lands, feus, colliers houses and tilework exceeds £600 per annum and the public burdens are moderate …

Below – 1859 – Carfin Tileworks.

1868 – 1869 – Alexander Gray Simpson, Coltness and Carfin Collieries, Wishaw. James R. Hopewell, agent, 37 Commercial Street.

1869 – Office, 7 York Street, Glasgow.

30/09/1872 – Glasgow Herald – Composition and fire bricks may be had, by cart or rail in large quantities at A. G. Simpson’s Carfin Colliery by Motherwell at current prices or by contract.

30/12/1875 – Glasgow Herald – A. G. Simpson, Carfin Colliery and Brickworks donated £8 13s 6d to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary fund.

1878 – Alexander G Simpson, Brickmaker, Carfin, Motherwell.

c. 1880‘s – Kenneth W Sanderson states that the works made some firebricks in the 1880s.

21/05/1881 – Lanarkshire Upper Ward Examiner – Messr William Dixon Ltd manufacture composition bricks at their Carfin Colliery near Motherwell. For prices, etc apply there or at Calder Iron Works, Coatbridge.

1882 – Carfin Coal and Fireclay Co, Carfin. Office 12 Dixon Street, Glasgow.

Below – 28/06/1884 – London Evening Standard – Estate of Carfin for sale … includes the well known Carfin Coalfields and Fireclay Works yielding a lordship of about £1000 …

18/10/1884 – Lanarkshire Upper Ward Examiner – Wishaw – Another accident at Carfin Brickworks – On Wednesday morning a boy about 13 years of age, named John Cowan, was engaged clearing out the rhone for conveying the fireclay to a circular sieve which had got choked when his foot was caught in the pinion wheel. He was extricated with difficulty, and his foot is severely lacerated.

Below – 1897 – Carfin Brickworks.

c. 1899 – William Dixon takes over the Works. (Source – Survey of Scottish Brickmarks)

1903 – 1904 – Dixon, Wm. Ltd. Govan, Garturk, and Carfin Brickworks, 1 Dixon Street.

04/03/1904 – Motherwell Times – On Tuesday night in Reid’s Hall, Carfin, Mr Wm, Scott, senr., kiln burner, and Mr Wm. Scott, junr., brickwork foreman, were the recipients of gifts from the workers of the Carfin Brickworks and a few friends. The former was presented with a silver-mounted walking stick, and the latter with a handsome marble timepiece and watch appendage. Mr James Johnstone, of the United Collieries, Ltd., Brick Department, occupied the chair; and Mr J. F. Graham, cashier, made the presentations. Messrs Scott briefly and suitably replied. A very pleasant evening was spent, a number of those present contributing etc, and dancing was engaged in until an early hour in the morning. Messrs Scott have been promoted to similar situations at Camps Brickwork, near East Calder, belonging to the same company, and leave with good wishes for their future welfare from all with whom they came in contact within Carfin. The articles were selected from the stock of Mr Alex. Wiseman, Motherwell, and were very much admired.

06/05/1904 – Motherwell Times – Presentations at Carfin – On Wednesday evening last in Reid’s Hall, Carfin, James Johnstone, Esq., of the United Collieries, Ltd., brick department, was presented with gifts from friends and employees of the Company at Carfin. Mr James Mackay, colliery manager, occupied the chair, and in his remarks referred to the good relations that had always existed between Mr Johnstone and all classes of workers at the Colliery and Brickwork, and also to the keen and practical interest taken by him in all that pertained to the good and welfare of Carfin. Mr J. F. Graham, cashier to the works, spoke as to the length of time he had known Mr Johnstone (both in Fifeshire and Lanarkshire), and that his career had been one of steady, upward progress, until now he occupied a high position in the United Collieries, brick department. While they all rejoiced this, they felt sorry as his duties compelled him to remove to Glasgow in the meantime, and, as a token of their esteem, they asked his acceptance of a gold Albert pendant, and a purse of gold sovereigns for himself, and a silver cake basket for Mrs Johnstone, and expressed the hope that he would continue prosperous, and that Mrs Johnstone, himself, and family would be long spared to each other. Mr Johnstone, in reply, thanked all for their unexpected and splendid gifts, both his own behalf and that of his wife. He would continue as far as possible his interest in Cartin, and trusted that although going to Glasgow, the personal friendships that had been formed in the district would not be in the slightest degree lessened after tonight, but, if possible, he hoped they would be kept up long as life itself. A very pleasant evening was spent in gramophone entertainment, given by Mr George Struggs, and songs were sung at intervals by a number of those present. The articles presented were from the stock of Mr A. S. Wiseman, Motherwell, and were much admired.

1905 – 1906 – Dixon, Wm. Ltd. Govan, Garturk, and Carfin Brickworks, 1 Dixon Street.

09/05/1906 – The Scotsman – William Dixon Limited – Issue of shares for public subscription. The prospectus states – The company also owns brickworks at Calder, Govan Colliery and Carfin Colliery of the most modern type capable of producing 50,000 bricks per day.

1906 – 1907 – Dixon, Wm. Ltd. Govan, Garturk, and Carfin Brickworks, 1 Dixon Street.

26/07/1907 – Motherwell Times – Man wanted as Panman for Bradley and Craven brick machine; wages 4s per shift. Apply Manager, United Collieries Brickwork, Carfin.

02/11/1907 – Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser – Contractor wanted to work clay hole. Apply Manager, Carfin Brickworks, Holytown.

1909 – 1910 – Dixon, Wm. Ltd. Govan, Garturk, and Carfin Brickworks; office, 1 Dixon Street.

Below – 1910 – Carfin Brickworks.

Below – c. 1910 – Source Summerlee Museum of Scottish Industrial life. Mary McMahon at Carfin Brickworks. Whole families worked in the brickworks, including women who were employed to run pallets of bricks into the kiln for firing and to lift finished bricks off the machines. In later years they also made ‘specials’ which were handmade bricks.

28/01/1916 – Motherwell Times – On Friday evening last, Mr Thomas A. Thomson, who has been foreman to Messrs Wm. Dixon, Ltd., Carfin Brickwork, since the work was started seventeen years ago, was made the recipient of a fine meerschaum pipe with a tobacco pouch and walking stick, also an umbrella for Mrs Thomson, on the occasion of his leaving the district for a higher position in Sligo, Ireland. Mr Peter Reid, in the name of the workers, made the presentation and referred to Thomson’s long connection with the work, the able manner which he had carried the work, and the kindly feeling that had always existed between him and the employees. Mr Thomson, in accepting the gifts, thanked them for this token of their kindness to him and his wife and expressed the hope that they would extend to his successor, Mr Reid—one of themselves —the ready help and loyalty they had given to him during his long association with them.

Below – 21/01/1921 – Motherwell Times – Glasgow Councils purchase brickworks at Dalry and Carfin.

01/12/1922 – Bellshill Speaker – Council meeting … Not only did Mr Campbell try and keep back the building of the houses, but he tried to retard matters after the approval of the building had been obtained, for he opposed the taking over of the Carfin Brickwork by the County Council. That brickwork was taken over on the day that the miners were locked out, which meant that the work was carried on by the Council for three months under adverse circumstances, due to the fact that coal could not be obtained. Despite that, however, the Council had produced from 200,000 to 240,000 bricks every month from the work and had made a profit on the first fifteen months working of £1,224. Mr Campbell, at his stewardship meeting, said he would oppose direct labour. He must have meant that the £1,224 should have gone into the pocket of some private individual instead into the pockets the ratepayers …

Below – 31/03/1923 – Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser – Middle Ward District Committee meeting regarding the purchase of Carfin Brickworks.

06/04/1923 – Motherwell Times – In order to increase the output to meet the demand for bricks in connection with the various housing schemes, the County Council have agreed to put Carfin Brickworks on double shift. The matter of employing women and young persons during the double shift has been referred to the Secretary for State.

Below – 06/07/1923 – Motherwell Times – Middle Ward District Committee meeting regarding the purchase of Carfin Brickworks.

07/03/1924 – Bellshill Speaker – No Deduction on Standard Rates of Wages. The monthly meeting of the Middle Ward District Committee was held in the County Chambers, Glasgow, on Friday last, Sir William Templeton, the chairman, presiding. In the minutes of the Sub-Committee of Management for Carfin Brickworks, it was reported that the wages of the workers at the brickworks had again been under consideration, the Clerk having submitted a statement showing how the wages compared with workers at other brickworks carried on under similar conditions in the vicinity. The meeting, after consideration, and having heard the brickworks’ manager, agreed that no alteration should be made in the wages of the workers’ meantime.

18/07/1924 – Motherwell Times – New Stevenston Politics – Councillor Law before the electors … Mr Law referred next to the taking over of Carfin Brickworks. They weren’t allowed to buy over the brickwork direct but they were allowed, temporarily at least to manage them in the interests of their housing schemes. At Carfin Brickworks, they paid the highest wages of any brickworks in Lanarkshire. He thought he needn’t say that in many of their housing schemes they had experienced a shortage of bricks that indeed was the chief reason why they took over the works. At present time from the Carfin Works, they were turning out the finest composition brick in the market and the clay brick was also as good as King’s brick at Bothwell Park. They intended to buy over Carfin Brickworks as soon as the Board of Health would allow them. They contemplated spending £15,000 on an improved plant when they took it over but the Board of Health had only allowed them to spend £6000.

04/12/1925 – Bellshill Speaker – Carfin Brickworks – Thereafter the clerk reported that the Board of Health had agreed to the committee’s offer of £10,000 for the purchase of Carfin Brick Works. The original valuation had been £12,200.

05/02/1926 – Motherwell Times – Carfin – Brickworkers clothes – At the monthly meeting of Lanarkshire Middle Ward District Committee on Friday, Mr John Campbell questioned the entry in the minute of Carfin Brickworks Committee proposing to provide certain of the workmen with jackets, trousers and new overcoats. He did not think they were entitled to clothe their employees in this way. They ought, he said, to clothe themselves. Mr Tonner explained the nature the work of those men made it necessary for the committee to provide them with overalls, in the same way, they supplied waterproofs to their road employees. The Clerk added that it had been the custom at the brickworks when they were under private ownership to provide this clothing. Mr Law (Newarthill) —And can they be expected to provide overalls 43s per week? Mr Campbell seemed to think they could and should, but he got no seconder, and the minute was approved.

Below – 21/05/1926 – Motherwell Times – Carfin Brickworks purchased by Council.


23/07/1926 – Motherwell Times – Reference to Mr John Gibb being the manager of the Blantyre Ferme Brickworks (Previously the manager of the Carfin Brickworks).

Below – 07/05/1927 – The Scotsman – Carfin Brickworks belonging to the Lanarkshire County is for sale.

04/11/1927 – Motherwell Times – Under the minutes of the Carfin Brickworks, Mr Baird Strahaven asked at Friday’s meeting of the Middle Ward District Committee if they were making any attempt to dispose of these Works. The chairman reported that the Works did not belong to the District Committee now, therefore they were not responsible for any loss.

Below – 06/01/1928 – Bellshill Speaker – £6000 offered for the Carfin Brickworks by Mr Matthew Calder, Pumpherston, Mid Calder.

Below – 11/04/1928 – The Scotsman – Carfin Brickworks for sale.

23/11/1928 – Motherwell Times – County elections … A number of questions were asked and answered. In answer to one of these, Mr Law stated that Carfin brickwork had almost “shut shop” entirely, as there were no further housing schemes in contemplation immediately, and those on hand were nearing completion. The brickwork was taken over at the suggestion of the Board of Health. The County Council were now seeking to dispose of the place …

07/12/1928 – Bellshill Speaker – Carfin Brickworks – Termination of lease – Minutes were submitted to the Middle Ward District Committee on Friday, referring to the lease of Carfin brickworks. To a meeting of the Sub-Committee of Management, the Clerk explained that the duration of the lease was for twelve years from Martinmas, 1920, but that it was in the power of the County Authorities to bring the lease to termination at Martinmas 1929, on giving the Superiors twelve months previous notice in writing of their intention to exercise the option and that the Scottish Board of Health had requested that the option should be exercised. The meeting, after consideration, agreed that notice to terminate the lease at Martinmas, 1929, should be given. The Clerk was instructed accordingly.

14/06/1929 – Motherwell Times – Theft of copper wire – Fines of 20s with the alternative of ten days prison were imposed at Hamilton J.P. Court on Monday on Dan McGhie, Leven Terrace, and Peter Stinkavage, 8 Back Bell Rows, Carfin, who pleaded guilty to cutting down and stealing a part of copper wire lightning conductor on the chimney stack at Carfin Brickworks. The Fiscal stated that the manager of the brickwork had seen the accused up the stack, hacking away at the conductor. The brickwork had not been producing bricks for some time, and the manager had complained that a good deal of trouble was being caused by young men at the brickwork.

28/03/1930 – Motherwell Times – Passing of a brickwork – Today, Friday, the sale takes place of the plant, machinery, and buildings of Carfin Brickworks, and a busy centre of activity now passes from the local industrial landscape. The brickworks belong to the Lanark County Council, being bought by them some ten years ago from the United Collieries, Ltd. The works were really taken over at the instigation of the Scottish Board of Health 10 years ago, towards helping on with their housing schemes under the control of the County Council. Something like £9,000 to £10,000 was involved in the purchase of the concern, whilst some thousands of capital were sunk in improvements. Nominally, the Works employed 30 to 40 hands, and the giving up of the concern no doubt is a loss to the community. All the buildings as well as bogies, barrows, waggons, hutches and rails, are being put up for auction today, the auctioneers being Messrs Shirlaw, Allan and Co., Hamilton.

16/05/1930 – Motherwell Times – Motoring accident in Motherwell Road, Carfin … The motor which was proceeding towards Motherwell with load of bricks from the old brickwork, which is presently being dismantled, and when on the steep incline which lies between Carfin and Cleekhimin, the driver lost control, owing to the steering gear failing to act … (Note – SBH – I am not 100% convinced this relates to the Carfin Brickworks).

01/09/1933 – Motherwell Times – Wee Paddy Priestman, the Wellington Street navvy, has been causing great excitement at the Watsonville “bing’ these past eight days, and passers-by have been amazed at Paddy’s ability to handle square-mouthed shovel. All are agreed, however, that the nature of the bing, its solidity, and its stoney contents, really demand that Wee Paddy should have been sent along with his big brother Mick, as the job is just beyond Paddy’s strength. In sand, or in loose material of any kind, Wee Paddy is worth any half-dozen navvies, and there is no quarrelling with him nor threats of a strike. In another respect, however, Paddy has been a great disappointment to almost every unemployed man in Wellington Street, who was looking forward to the time when he would be employed in this work of picking and shovelling the contents of the bing into wagons for transport to Carfin Brickworks. We put no blame upon the contractor, as he is entitled to remove the bing by a wave of his magic rod, should he possess such a handy instrument, but all the same the method adopted has given rise to much dissatisfaction.

11/05/1934 – Motherwell Times – There was some stir at Monday’s Dean of Guild Court when plans were passed for the erection of a new brickwork at Range Road by the Motherwell Brick Coy., Ltd., 29 St. Vincent Place, Glasgow, at an estimated cost of seven thousand pounds. The late John Watson made bricks in Watsonville on a small scale, and then the late Mr Archie Millar, joiner, and Mr Robert Park, builder set up a brickwork at Carfin, but the only active work of the kind now in our district is Dixon’s Brickwork at Carfin. With so many colliery dumps in and around our town, we have reason to hope that the new work may have a prosperous future before them, and be able to use up a portion of our unemployed people.

Below – 13/09/1935 – Motherwell Times – During a Council meeting reference was made to the Carfin Brickworks pond being a health risk to children.

1936- 1937 – Dixon, Wm., Ltd., Govan, and Carfin and Auchlochan Brickworks; office, 1 Dixon Street, Glasgow  C.l

Below – 23/10/1936 – Motherwell Times – A general view of Colvilles Ltd, Motherwell … .in the immediate foreground we have Carfin Brickwork and beyond it Carfin Byres Farm …

Below – 1938 – Todholeburn Mine – Source of the raw material for the manufacture of Carfin Bricks. See article dated 29/07/1938 below.

29/07/1938 – Bellshill Speaker – Brickworks restart  Good news for Carfin – Production was commenced on Wednesday morning at the restart of Carfin Brickworks, belonging to Wm. Dixon & Co., which had been closed for the past two years. When the works closed two years ago there was a stock on hand of two million bricks, but with the brisk demand for these bricks for housing scheme purposes, the total stock had become exhausted. The demand continuing good, and with fair prospects for the future, the firm decided to re-open the Carfin works. During the past few days, intensive preparations were made preparing the material for the kilns. By a fortunate coincidence the firm opened up a new mine in the Todholeburn district, about half a mile away, and the clay and other materials brought to the surface in the sinking of the mine have been found to answer the purpose required for the making of bricks, and a good and inexpensive raw material has thus been acquired in the company’s own ground. The first round of bricks were drawn from the kilns on Wednesday morning and stored in the yard. The revival of the industry will be welcomed in the Carfin district which has suffered from unemployment.

06/01/1939 – Motherwell Times – Brickworks closed – Prospects of steady employment for 50 Carfin workers have been greatly upset by the fact that the Carfin Brickworks belonging to Messrs. Wm. Dixon and Company, Ltd., have been closed. Shortly before the holiday period these works closed down but were expected to resume soon after the New Year. About 50 employees are affected by the stoppage. Six months ago the works were re-opened after being idle for nearly two years. The materials required for the making of bricks were procured from colliery bings in the vicinity which belong to the firm, but it has now become difficult to obtain the necessary materials from this source. The brickworks have been closed until the difficulty regarding material can be got over.

08/08/1947 – Motherwell Times – What – No brickworks – While they have not been operating for several years, the dismantling of the Carfin Brickworks, work on which commenced last week is causing much controversy in the surrounding district. Comments are not in a congratulatory vein and practically everyone is of the opinion that in view of the present shortage these works would assist greatly in the provision of bricks for building in this district in preference to bringing them from other areas. In addition to providing a much needed employment of local workers, the transport question would be greatly eased and cost reduced. At the present time when every available brick is required to help to meet the housing problem, it does seem strange to think that these works which were first operated about 40 years ago should be dismantled just when needed most. While production would not compare with more modem works, there does appear to be some reason for the complaints of local people.

c. 1948 – OS Map shows the workings but the Brickworks are not marked.

(United Collieries Ltd may have been owners during the 1930s until 1939 – Source – Survey of Scottish Brickmarks).


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