The following bricks were found by Vladimir Smirnov near Perm, Russian. Stein, Castlecary Fireclay Works, Castlecary, Stirlingshire. Stein, Manuel Firebrick and Refractory Works, Whitecross, Stirlingshire. Stein & Co, Anchor Brickworks, Denny, Stirlingshire. Milnquarter Fireclay & Gannister Works, Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire . Below – BCM/Thistle. Below – Thistle.
- Stein, Castlecary Fireclay Works, Castlecary, Stirlingshire.
- Stein, Manuel Firebrick and Refractory Works, Whitecross, Stirlingshire.
- Stein & Co, Anchor Brickworks, Denny, Stirlingshire.
- Milnquarter Fireclay & Gannister Works, Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire.
1899 – Castlecary Fireclay Works were opened after a 31-year lease (with a further 31-year option) was signed with the Marquis of Zetland.
15/03/1904 – Production of the brand ‘Thistle’ began.
19/03/1904 – Falkirk Herald – Opening of a new brickwork at Castlecary. By the opening of a new brickwork of quite colossal dimensions at Castlecary on Tuesday the brickmaking trade of the county should receive a decent fillip. The new brickwork has been erected by the enterprising firm of Messrs John G. Stein and Co and when entirely finished will be one of if not the largest, establishments of the kind in Scotland. Occupying 28 acres of land on the estate of the Marquis of Zetland it is conveniently situated between the North British and Caledonian railways and is in close proximity to the Forth and Clyde Canal. A start was made with the construction of the work in November 1902. Previous to that the field had been bored and explored in order to learn the extent and quality of the mineral. The result was most satisfactory as the clay was found to be the ‘Glenboig’ of world-renowned reputation and the field to be developed the largest known in Scotland. The ground plan of the work is arranged for a daily output of 100,000 fire bricks. The section now completed is capable of producing 20,000 bricks per day, but the machinery, which is all of the most modern descriptions, and is splendidly housed, is erected with a view to turning out the larger amount when once the establishment has been entirely finished. The driving engine is, for instance, is of 500 hp. The plant by the way includes an engine and dynamo for electric light of 50 hp. There are 5 grinding mills presently in operation. The drying stove, like a great hall, is soft long by 50 ft broad and is substantially erected on a steel framework and exceptionally well lighted – a feature indeed, being the abundance of roof light. One side is temporarily covered with galvanised iron in order to allow of extensions being easily and cheaply made. The kilns at present are 15 in number but it is expected that they will ultimately reach 100. The seam of clay has been opened by means of a pit 60 fathoms in depth and in connection with this pit a substantial and well-designed steel gangway has been erected. There are several commodious and nicely finished sheds for joiners, blacksmiths etc. While for their employees the firm have erected 30 cottages of superior design and construction on the main road where nine acres have been feued for that purpose. The whole establishment, so up to date and perfectly equipped as it is, and colossal as it will be, is a distinct credit to the county, not to say the country and Mr Stein, who is the sole partner of the firm has every reason to feel proud of it. The mention of the name recalls the fact that it is sixteen years since Mr Stein started business in this line. At that time he commenced with a work at Bonnybridge which had one kiln and produced something like 2500 bricks per day. How enterprising he has been and how well his enterprise has been rewarded, will clearly be understood when we say he now has three brickworks with 80 kilns and an average daily output of 75, 000 bricks. But to refer to the inauguration on Tuesday this was made the occasion of a pleasant little ceremony. Mr Stein himself was present and was accompanied by a few personal friends. At 3.15, three shots were fired by one of the lady members of the party and at the signal, the guests and workmen assembled in the engine room where Mr Stein turned on the steam and set the great machinery in motion amid the hearty cheers of the onlookers. The party having witnessed the process of grinding and tempering followed the clay to the hutch-hoist, and then to one of the numerous stationary benches. Here the clay was conveyed down a chute to a moulder who filled a mould, and with a few deft touches shaped the first brick, which was exposed to view amid ringing cheers. Thereafter refreshments, generously provided by Mr Stein, were partaken of. The opening was a most auspicious one, and doubtless, it is but an augury of the future success of the Castlecary Brickworks. (Note – SBH – This is a link to that very first ‘Thistle’ brick – click me).
1905 – The company was incorporated as John G Stein and Co. (20/01/1905?).
Below – 22/09/1904 – Clyde Bill of Entry and Shipping List –
Below – 07/09/1917 – Daily Record – Wages dispute. Sir Richard Lodge, arbiter, has under consideration claims by the Castlecary Fireclay and silica workers for advances in wages and improved conditions of labour. The workers, who recently joined the Gasworkers’ and Labourers’ Union, claim that the war bonus of 15s per week should be made an addition to wages and that repayment should be made to the workers of the amounts deducted through loss of time. It is also claimed that women working in men’s places as setters be paid men’s bonus, that time and half be paid for overtime, and double time for Sunday work.
21/09/1917 – Kirkintilloch Gazette – There was a sequel in Falkirk Sheriff Court on Friday to the recent disappearance of beer at Castlecary. Joseph Shaw, engineer, and John Hawthorn, brickmaker, Allandale, denied stealing two gallons of beer from a cask in a railway waggon in the siding at Castlecary Brickworks. They were defended by Mr Stevenson, solicitor. Two employees of the N.B. Railway Company spoke to having seen the accused in the waggon working at one of the barrels, evidently with the intention of getting access to the contents. They had a zinc pail beside them bearing the name of John G. Stein & Company, with whom the accused were employed. One of the witnesses stated he saw Shaw pouring beer out of the waggon into the pail. The evidence showed that the waggon had been put into Messrs Stein & Company’s siding by mistake as an empty waggon. The waggon contained a consignment of beer from Alloa to Motherwell and had been taken to Greenhill as empty, it contained, however, three barrels of beer. At the conclusion of the evidence for the prosecution, Mr Stevenson intimated Shaw would plead guilty, but that Hawthorn denied the charge. This plea was not accepted. Both accused then gave evidence. Shaw stated that Hawthorn had nothing to do with the theft, and was not there when he (Shaw) took the beer from the barrel. They did not participate in the consumption of the beer. Hawthorn denied having anything to with the taking of the beer from the barrel. Sheriff Moffatt found both accused guilty and ordered each to pay a fine of £2 within seven days or go to prison for twenty days.
18/04/1919 – Kirkintilloch Gazette – Brickworker claims wages in lieu of notice. ln Falkirk Sheriff Court, Sheriff-Substitute Moffatt, has decided an action raised by Robert Steel, foreman brickmaker, Temple Gardens, Anniesland, Glasgow, against Messrs John G. Stein and Co., Ltd., brick manufacturers, Castlecary. Pursuer sued for £8 18s being the loss which, he alleged, he had sustained in the respect that, having been engaged by the defenders as a foreman at their works on a fortnightly engagement at £8 18s per fortnight, he was, on 25th January last, dismissed without notice. Defenders pleaded that pursuer in the respect that he did not faithfully discharge his duties, as a result of which several workers had been overpaid. In addition, they pleaded that the Court had no jurisdiction in the respect that the works being under Government control the dispute fell to be settled, under the Munitions of War Acts, before a munitions tribunal. The Sheriff, in giving judgment, said he had come to the conclusion that the pursuer was only on a weekly engagement. He, however, did not think the defenders were justified in dismissing him without notice, as he had not been guilty of any dereliction of duty. The pursuer may, or may not have understood his instructions if he made an error in judgment, and no such fault would justify instant dismissal. The third defence, the Sheriff said, had been the most serious and important one, but, after careful consideration, he had come to the conclusion that the defence was not maintainable. The action was one for the common law and the plainest words in a statute would be necessary, in his opinion, to take away the jurisdiction of his Court. He, therefore, granted a decree to the pursuer for £4 9s with expenses.
21/12/1919 – Kirkintilloch Gazette – Price of requisitioned bricks. The Second Division of the Court of Session adhered to a decision given by Lord Anderson assoilzing the Lord Advocate representing the Ministry of Munitions, from the conclusions of an action by Messrs Stein & Co., firebrick manufacturers, for the reduction of award issued by Lord Hunter as arbiter under the Defence of the Realm Regulations fixing 110s per 1000 the price to be paid for the bricks requisitioned from the pursuers by the Ministry. In the course of the arbitration, Lord Hunter refused to allow the pursuers to examine the bricks of a rival firm for the purpose of showing that if that rival firm were obtaining 120 s per 1000 for their bricks the pursuers were entitled to the same price. Lord Hunter held that the fact desiderated might be proved by other evidence, but that the circumstances that the higher price was given to the rival firm did not necessarily demand that he should fix the same price for the bricks. The Division held that the arbiter was the master of the procedure before him and that no grounds had been shown for interfering with his award.
1919 – 1922 – Allandale village was built to provide housing for the workforce at the Castlecary works.
17/01/1920 – Aberdeen Press and Journal – A ballot of the Castlecary Fireclay miners of Messrs J.G.Stein & Co has resulted in the majority voting for a strike to enforce recognition of the local union officials at this company’s High Bonnybridge Works where the miners are out on strike.
30/09/1921 – Kilsyth Chronicle – A lengthy article about the opening of a canteen at Castlecary by Messrs J. G. Stein and Co. It had accommodation for about 400. In his speech, Mr J. G. Stein states … All he (Mr Stein) wanted to make out was that it was most obvious to all that with less production we could have less to eat, wear, drink, or lay past. The only way to have plenty was to produce plenty. That did not explain how they were slack at Castlecary and elsewhere, because they had plenty of bricks. Even if could carry them about, he could not exchange them. The cause of unemployment was that the goods produced in this country are too dear for the world’s markets. The miners’ leaders thought we should do better all the time and they said quite plainly they could get any price they liked for coal. They had all had abundant proof that that was not the case. The world’s markets are a thing we had no control over; we must take the worlds price, whether it be coals, or bricks, or steel. If the cost of these commodities in this country exceeded the sum the other countries were willing or able to pay, then we could not sell to them. There was no hope of early improvement in trade, he was sorry to say it. His employees must have begun to see how things were going themselves. It would be to their interest be very economical and save every penny because they were to have a hard winter not only as a nation but as individuals. At Bonnybridge the next day they would be suspending the making of bricks because they had no more room. At Castlecary they had still some room but even if they had unlimited financial resources, it would be unwise to continue until next year and then sell these bricks at loss. When the tide took a turn there would be a tendency to collapse. The steel trade had had a very bad year, and even if the owners were willing, they might not be financially able to go on. He thought he had said enough to show his hearers the seriousness of the position. Coming to something more cheerful, he had a look round the kilns, and he was pleased to say he never saw better bricks. The workers would agree he spared nothing either plant, buildings, or the best machinery and kilns, and he kept nagging at them the best he could (laughter)—and he was willing to admit that for some reason or other they were making steady progress and making better bricks than ever. He believed they were in the front rank. He wished his workers to have something of what used to be called pride of craft. He would like to instil into their minds the desire to make the best of whatever was put into their hands. Then they would someday in the dim and distant future be able to get a preference in price as well as in work …
05/05/1922 – Kilsyth Chronicle – Fireclay Works close – The closing down of Messrs J.G Stein & Co’s extensive fireclay works at Castlecary, which had been threatened for some time unless there was a spirited revival in trade has caused much disappointment all round. Messrs Stein have kept their works going through the bad times but stocks have accumulated to such an extent that a stoppage has been rendered necessary and it may be two or three months before a resumption of work is made.
23/09/1922 – Falkirk Herald – We understand that several more men are being suspended at Messrs J. G. Stein’s Castlecary Brickworks on Friday, owing to the dullness of trade.
Below – 27/02/1926 – Falkirk Herald – As more briefly reported in our issue of Saturday last, the seventh annual reunion of the directors, staff, and workers of the brick-manufacturing firm of Messrs J. G. Stein. Ltd., Bonnybridge, Castlecary, Denny, and Larbert, took place with marked success in the Public Hall, Bonnybridge, on Friday evening. An assembly of 550 ladies and gentlemen were entertained by the firm to a supper, concert, and dance … the Chairman reminded his hearers that last year had been a very trying year, not only for those in their own industry but for a great many other industries, especially the heavy ones like coal, iron, steel, shipbuilding and engineering on which they depended very largely for the refractory part of their business. Last year at Denny they had been fairly well employed, and while they were left with a fairly good stock at the end of the year, their prospects were quite good. He hoped they would be able to keep the works there going the whole of this year. (Applause.) With regard to firebricks, they had not been fully employed, but they had, nevertheless, got a fairly good share of the work going. In fact, he thought that they had been better employed than most of their competitors. If they would excuse his saying so, he thought they deserved it, because their aim always was to create and maintain a very high standard in every respect. (Applause.) The prospects for this year, speaking generally for the country, and particularly for themselves, seemed to be somewhat brighter. There was not very much actual difference in the demand for refractories in Scotland yet although last week or so there had been reports of quite a number of orders for boats being placed with the Clyde. That would certainly help them in Bonnybridge. In England and Wales, the demand was distinctly better. This was due to the large number of subsidiary trades in England which used up steel. In Scotland, they had very little else but shipbuilding and structural work. These remarks, he went on, were subject to no great industrial trouble developing, such they had had threats of every week from platforms all over the country. Even those very threats drove away a large amount of trade. This fact was shown very clearly just after the subsidy the coal trade was given, and for two months afterwards, their coal exports fell drastically. That was due to foreign buyers having protected themselves against the chance of strike obtaining supplies elsewhere. The mere threat of strike adversely affected all industries, because all were more or less leaning on each other. Proceeding, the Chairman said that some Trade Union leaders held that the cause of so much unemployment, in this country was the failure of Capitalism. If Capitalism was an evil, then it seemed to him to be a very necessary one because they could not carry on any industry without capital, whether the particular industry was carried on by individuals, or by co-operative societies, of which they had a worthy example in Bonnybridge. He himself had been a member of the Bonnybridge Co-operative Society for a quarter of a century; indeed, as long as he had lived in the village of Bonnybridge. The Bonnybridge Society had a first-class record, did good work, and made good beef-steak pies. He was altogether in favour of co-operation, not only as it applied to Bonnybridge, but of co-operation generally, even to the extent of co-operation between workers and employers. Those Communists, whom we called Bolshevists, who lived in that “blessed” land of Russia, were, remarkably enough, always hankering after more capital. While they ran down this country, its interests, its people, and its Trade Union for their being far too tame – although sometimes thought they were far too wild – they were very anxious to get our capital into Russia. Eighty per cent, of the Russian population lived on the land, produced their own food, and did not have very many luxuries. Russia, therefore, had not the same clamant need for capital as a highly industrialised and civilised land such ours. The depression in the heavy trades in this country was due to the high prices asked. As they probably knew, a great many of our trades were carried on without any profit, and some even at a heavy loss. The cooperative societies got their capital from their individual members; local authorities and Governments by rating and loans. He was, as he had always said, strongly in favour of cooperative societies, but he was equally strongly against any work being done by local authorities or the Government that could possibly be done by private enterprise. Whatever might be said for nationalisation, in theory, it absolutely broke down in practice. They could not as a nation afford to take the risk of their main vital industry – coal – being nationalised, when they had so many concrete examples of State management failures before them. He ventured to say that the Coal Commission would not recommend nationalisation, and one reason he had for saying that was that the miners had the outset found themselves bound to admit that, no matter what nationalisation might do for them in the future, it certainly could not meet the crisis which would arise in May. If nationalisation was not the remedy for the persistent unrest, which was an unfortunate feature of these times, what was to be done? Theirs was an acute industrial trouble, and it was their duty as individuals, and it was the duty of their Government, to endeavour to diagnose the cause thereof, and the possible effect of the cure. It could not be denied that the primary cause of the slackness in iron, steel, coal, shipbuilding, and engineering was the fact that they were being undersold by their continental competitors. Wages in this country were about 50 per cent, higher than in France, Germany, Belgium, or Holland. Our handicap was an unfair one. He was not advocating a reduction of wages, but he thought it was the duty of the working men of this country – trade unionists and non-unionists – to tell those loudspeakers who went about the platforms and even mounted orange boxes and tubs, to shout about “the failure of Capitalism,’’ that they should devote their energies and capacities to the problem of raising the standard of living in those countries he had mentioned, and with which we were competing, and so enable manufacturers in this country to compete without their present handicap. If they were once relieved of it, trade of every kind in this country would soon be overflowing. It was well-known that for quality and reliability, our productions excelled everything produced anywhere else in this world. The comparatively low wages on the Continent and the longer hours worked there, had produced one notable result – in France, there were no unemployed. Indeed, there were approximately threequarters of a million foreigners in France, who had gone there to fill the vacancies due to the great demands for her productions, which were much cheaper than ours. A large number of men – chiefly engineers – had gone from this country and got jobs in France. Few Britishers had remained in France in those circumstances, however, because they did not like having to work on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. There was evident also on the Continent a greater willingness to get work done quickly and therefore, more cheaply, by co-operation between masters and men. In French shipbuilding there were only some six trade unions concerned; in this country, there were at least 30; he thought the number was 35. In this country, a lot of squabbling took place, not between employers and individual workers, but between those trade unions, which frequently caused a delay in the construction of ships and engines. He was glad to see that there was a tendency now to improve this state of affairs. By a majority of four to one, the shipbuilding trade unions had agreed to co-operate with employers with a view to reducing costs without reducing wages. Lack of cooperation meant a lack of the friendly feeling which their presence there that evening and their smiling faces showed existed in the business in which they themselves were concerned. (Applause.) At present there were far too, many men in this country making their livelihood creating and fomenting discontent. He had to confess that he cherished ambition to make all his workers “works proud.” He wanted them to feel that they were citizens of no mean city when they were employed by him. He thought they did realise that the past had done something to make their conditions of employment safe and comfortable circumstances permitted. (Applause.) Not only so, but he had the ambition to make their wives who lived in houses belonging to him and those associated with him “houseproud.” He knew that they were already very much so but he wanted to see that feeling intensified. In the works he wanted their jobs to be as interesting as possible, and any suggestion put forward by any worker would have an adequate reward. (Applause.) Concluding, the Chairman said that since they met a year ago they had completed twelve houses which were in course of erection at Allandale. Twenty years ago the then medical officer of health for the county had said that the company’s houses at Allandale at that time were the best workmen’s houses in Stirlingshire. He (the speaker) thought that this latest addition much excelled the others in some respects that having in view the improvements which had taken place in other parts Stirlingshire, they still held that very high honour. (Applause.) They would proceed with the erection of more houses as soon they had the assurance from the powers that be that they would participate in the building subsidy. (Applause.) …
1927? – Castlecary laboratory was started.
18/02/1927 – Milngavie and Bearsden Herald – An assembly of over 500 ladies and gentlemen on Friday evening of last week enjoyed the annual supper, concert, and dance provided by the brick manufacturing firm of Messrs. John G. Stein and Co., Ltd., for the employees in their works at Bonnybridge, Castlecary, and Denny. The function was held in the Bonnybridge Public Hall … In welcoming the guests, the Chairman said that since their last meeting there a year ago the country had, as they knew, passed through a very critical time. He did not propose to say anything more than that about the General Strike and the coal dispute. What they wanted to know, if possible, was how to avoid the same thing re-occurring. They knew the difficulties that manufacturers in this country were up against, but some of the younger ones perhaps had not had time to study the question. Whether industry – railways and coal – be nationalised or be left in the hands of those sanguinary capitalists, so long as workmen on the Continent were willing and continuing to labour under conditions, so far as wages were concerned, so much inferior to what we enjoyed in this country, it mattered not under what management industry was carried on, it could not be very prosperous. The men who were at the head of the trade unions argued that it was because the industry in this country was not properly organised that trade was suffering at times so badly. A year ago he himself had said that what the miners or the co-operative people should do was to start a colliery themselves and demonstrate how collieries should be carried on. He did not know at that time that there was such an example. It turned out that there was a colliery in the North of England, the Shillebottle Colliery, which was run by miners themselves and the co-operative people. In a period before the strike they lost £10,000, notwithstanding that they got £10,000 in subsidy, so, without the subsidy, this colliery was not even able to wash its face, and lost £20,000. He was not saying a word against the cooperative movement. Indeed, last year, they would recall, he spoke strongly in its favour. The very good supper they had had that night was one example of what the movement could do in its’ own sphere. Distribution, in his opinion, was its sphere, not production. If the workers in that colliery, working for themselves and their fellow cooperators, did not succeed through putting much better skill and more strength into their work, was the management that was backing the venture with capital to blame? Their own people could not produce a profit. Therefore it was, unreasonable for the leaders of the coalminers to say that the coal trade was in its present deplorable condition for the lack of proper management. One of the methods which might be adopted to improve matters would be if some of the firebrands would go across to the Continent, and, above all, to Russia, and try to elevate the standard of living there. If they succeeded, we in this country would be able and willing to step up a bit, too. The trouble was, however, that these men laid themselves out for sowing discontent and trouble in industry. They did not want industry to flourish; they made no secret of that. They always talked about the demoralised standard of living, and of how workmen in this country were downtrodden. As he looked around the hall night he wondered whether the audience really were of the working class or not, because they all seemed happy contented and fairly well fed and glad. So there was something really favourable in the neighbourhood or else those statements about the downtrodden working class were not altogether to be depended upon. He thought they ought to draw some measure of satisfaction from the thought that if bricks did not altogether keep industry living still they themselves tried to keep it well in the forefront. (Applause). There were over 500 of them there that evening, and as he had previously indicated, Bonnybridge would soon have to get an enlarged hall if they continued to increase as they had been doing. They themselves had extended to Castlecary as it was needed and sometimes before it was needed, but Bonnybridge seemed to take things in a more leisurely fashion. Last year, as they knew, they had a period of very acute depression, due to those strikes. The prospects for this year looked very much better. They had a larger output from each of their three works during January than they had during the corresponding month of last year. (Applause). Not only so, but he did think that their prospects, apart from the prospects of trade as a whole, were better. They were keeping their end up, and that was something to be thankful for, something to be proud of. (Applause). Colonel Bain, thereafter, in a word, called for a hearty vote of thanks to the Social Committee and expressed the hope that the same Committee would continue to act in future years. (Applause). Mr John Cunningham, Castlecary, then called for a similar compliment to Mr Stein and his fellow directors for their hospitality. The only way, he added, in which the employees could properly thank Mr Stein was by the manner in which they did their work. At present he stood first on the market, and it was up to them to maintain that record for him. (Applause).
16/10/1927 – John Gilchrist Stein dies.
1928 – Dr Hyslop was the first chemist in charge of the laboratory.
17/03/1928 – Falkirk Herald – Workers and Nursing Association. At a meeting of the workers employed at Castlecary Firebrick Works (John G. Stein and Co., Ltd.), on Tuesday afternoon – Mr Taylor presiding – intimation was made from the Bonnybridge Nursing Association requesting the workers to contribute towards the Association. Several proposals were put forward, and it was afterwards agreed that the workers (householders) resident in Allandale would contribute 2s per annum, to be taken off at the office in two instalments, commencing on the first pay in April.
06/07/1929 – Falkirk Herald – a large article on the opening of the Workers Bowling Green and Pavilion at Allendale. A generous gift to the employees of Messrs J. G. Stein & Co Ltd, Castlecary. The opening ceremony was performed by Mrs John G Stein, Millfield, Polmont.
21/09/1929 – Falkirk Herald – Marquis of Zetland’s visit – On Monday afternoon the Marquis of Zetland paid a visit to Castlecary Fire Clay Works of Messrs John G Stein Ltd. On his arrival, he was met by Col. Stein and was conducted over the works. The Marquis showed great interest in the various departments of brickmaking.
Below – 04/04/1931 – Falkirk Herald – Employee’s reunion – Annual gathering of employee’s of Messrs John G Stein & Co – Col Stein and the trade outlook.
Dinner over and the tables cleared, Colonel Stein rose to address the employees, from whom he received a hearty ovation. In his opening words of welcome, he expressed his regret that it had not been possible to have the employees of the Manuel Works present, as the accommodation the hall was already taxed to its utmost. They, however, had a successful social evening of their own in Polmont a week ago. Continuing, the Chairman said:—We are passing through a very depressing time, and while we have been very successful in the past in providing regular work to steadily increasing numbers, we have had to slightly curtail our output during the last six months. Notwithstanding this, we have as many employees as we had last year but since then we have started our new works at Manuel, and but for the depression, our numbers would have been much greater in consequence. I would like to say a few words first on the general situation. We are all naturally much concerned about the serious and persistent unemployment, and it is important to try, if possible, to have a clear idea of the cause. I was once told by a distinguished research worker that a problem well defined is half solved. There are important factors such as the state of affairs in Russia, India and China, and the world depression in trade, but I believe our main problem is that we must get our costs of production reduced. We have failed in this country to adjust our costs to world costs, and we are getting a much smaller share of the export trade in consequence. I have mentioned this before, but “ facts are chiels that winna ding,” and I think this fact becomes more and more apparent as we struggle painfully along. We are handicapped with high wages in many of the sheltered trades. By this, I mean those trades competing for export. The municipal street cleaner gets a higher wage than the skilled engineer. I think, however, there are two principal ways by which we can reduce costs, leaving aside an extension of piecework, for which there appears room, especially in the building trade. First, expenditure of more capital on improved plant and equipment to get greater production per head; second, reduction in rates of wages. The first way, in my opinion, is the desirable method, but apart from lack of confidence in the future, in this country, we are using up our capital in excessive taxation, and it is not available for new equipment and new construction. The provision of new equipment in itself provides considerable employment. For example, we have been spending capital for two years building new works at Manuel, and roughly speaking, gave employment directly or indirectly to 350 men during those two years, and now when complete we are giving regular employment to others. This sort of thing should be done more in all trades, and all the time, and it would be done, I am sure if conditions permitted. Failing reduction in costs on these lines, I think nothing can prevent a fall in wages, although the solution may come partly one way and partly the other. I believe the ultimate interests of both capital and labour run more on parallel lines than is generally believed, and a proper realisation of economic laws would help us to recover more quickly from the present depression. I turn now to our own affairs. I am glad to report there has been an increased attendance at evening classes our employees last winter. Under the scheme whereby we give a bonus to those who complete the course and gain certificates, 18 of our employees earned bonuses totalling £41 4s last winter. The same scale bonus will be given to employees at Manuel in future. I hope there will be a still greater increase in the attendance at evening classes. I need hardly emphasise the importance of good education, and for those who wish to get on in life, it is quite essential that they should make every effort to improve their education. If we are to maintain a higher standard of living than our competitors we must make the fullest use of the brains as well as the brawn! We had a series of technical lectures at Castlecary Works during the winter. There were nine lectures altogether covering chemistry, physics, and clay technology. The average attendance was 35, and I consider this highly satisfactory. These lectures were given by members of our staff, Messrs Hyslop, Biggs and Malcolm, and I believe they are willing to continue in the same way next winter if they find there is a demand from the employees for them. The idea originated with these gentlemen themselves, and I am sure we are much indebted to them for the trouble they have taken, I have been very pleased to note the improvement in the gardens at Castlecary. This is no doubt the result of the garden competition instituted by Miss Annie Stein two years ago. Other various social activities are going along well. The Scouts, under Scoutmaster Muir, are going strong and had a very successful camp at Arran last year. The Sunday School, under Mr Crawford, continues its good work, and we now have a successful juvenile choir under Mr Benson. The Recreation Club is more popular than ever. The Bowling Club have also had a successful season and the winner of the green championship (bowl presented by Mrs John G. Stein) was Mr Robert Clelland. The works football shield was won this year by the stove department. Since our last social meeting the two most important events for us were the starting of our new works at Manuel eleven months ago, and the opening of our new Research Laboratory eight months ago. The new works are turning out excellent bricks, and we are finding steadily increasing demand for them. We are doing our very best to capture markets overseas previously held by foreign competitors. The new research laboratory will help us to keep abreast of the times, and we have an excellent staff there, under Mr Hyslop. The heavy industries of this country have been the most badly hit by the depression, and this affects the demand for firebricks and silica bricks in which we are most interested. We have, however, had a good share of the business that is available. I would like very much to have been able to tell those who are on short time, or were suspended, that there were signs of the tide turning, but I really cannot do so. We have an excellent team spirit throughout our whole organisation, and I am sure that, especially in these times, you will do your very best that we deserve to get more business. I have confidence in the future of this country. I think we have been too slow to appreciate the greater competition we have now to face for a share of the world trade, but we have excellent workmen and I have every confidence that we will sooner or later face the hard facts, and that we will then see a return to prosperity. At the close of his address. Colonel Stein had to wait for the prolonged applause to subside before he could announce the commencement of the concert. The programme was sustained by a party from Messrs Paterson’s musical agency, Glasgow, and it is safe to say that it equalled, if it did not excel, the high standard attained on previous occasions. In his opening number, “The Stockrider’s Song” (W. A. James) Mr Frank Gordon, bass-baritone, caught the mood of this Australian bush song to perfection, and fully merited the applause he received from the appreciative audience. Later, in “The Trumpeter” (Airlie Dix), and again in that popular old Cornish folk-song “The Floral Dance,” Mr Gordon had full scope for his interpretative powers and established himself in favour from the beginning. In her first solo, “Hungarian Dance” (Drdla) Miss Margaret Smart, violinist, exhibited fine tonal quality and a dexterous bow hand, while in her later numbers, “Two Russian Solk Songs” arranged by Kreisler, and the Weber-Burmester “Waltz,” her technique was admirable, and occasionally when the music demanded, she gave glimpses of clever left-hand work also and proved herself a young artiste of much acceptance and considerable promise. Miss Nettie Sclanders is a young soprano with a fresh unspoiled voice and a useful range. In “The Waltz Song” (Edward German) Miss Sclanders showed clear diction and a sweetness of tone that was in harmony with her charming stage presence. In her later songs, “Ave Maria,” and Eric Coates’ “Bird Songs at Eventide,” this young singer earned whole-hearted applause from her hearers. The “magic” of Mr Claud Williams was at times as mystifying as it was clever, his running patter being a source of continuous merriment, and completing a programme that was thoroughly enjoyed by all present. Miss Barbara Laing at the piano, accompanied the soloists with commendable skill and sympathy. At the conclusion of the concert, Dr Young proposed a vote of thanks to the committee and artistes. He said there had always been two outstanding features connected with the firm of Messrs John G. Stein & Company. The one was the power of organisation, and the other was efficiency. With regard to the former, he asked the employees to accord to the committee who had organised so successful a function, their heartiest thanks. (Applause.) The second outstanding feature was efficiency. They had heard Colonel Stein talking about unemployment and cost of production, and he would like to suggest to Colonel Stein that he should secure the services of Mr Claud Williams, and then he could make bricks out of nothing! (Laughter.) Mr John McConnachie, on behalf of the employees, returned sincere thanks for the generosity of the firm. They were very much indebted, he said, to Colonel Stein for the address he had given them, and also for his resume of the firm’s activities during the past year, which they must consider very satisfactory despite the depression which was so prevalent all over the world. They all hoped and trusted that it would soon pass away and that the firm of John G. Stein & Company would continue to hold the position it had held for many years; that is “second to none.” (Loud applause.) He also asked the audience to accord Mrs John G. Stein a special vote of thanks and to ask their worthy chairman to convey to his respected mother their kindest regards, and the hope that she may long be spared to come amongst them. Mr Norman Stein, although he, unfortunately, could not be with them this evening, was nevertheless an important factor in the firm’s progress, and it gives him pleasure to join his name with those of Colonel Allan and Mrs John G. Stein, He asked them to accord to their employers a very hearty vote of thanks for the excellent way in which they had been entertained tonight. (Prolonged applause.) The call, having received a response, and having been duly acknowledged by Colonel Stein, the first half of the programme came to end. The hall was then cleared for dancing which was carried through to the sprightly music of Mr David Mitchell’s Carron Orchestra, the members of which are to be complimented on their rhythmic melodies and the readiness of their response to encores. The onerous duties of M.C. were jointly and ably fulfilled by Messrs W. Miller, P. Duff and A. Cooper …
08/09/1931 – Dundee Courier – Andrew McEwan, brick worker, Allandale, Castlecary, one of the oldest employees at J. G. Stein & Company’s Castlecary Fireclay Works, Stirlingshire, dropped dead yesterday afternoon as the works horn blew to cease work. The deceased was about 70 years of age.
03/11/1934 – Falkirk Herald – District Council meeting … Sanction was given to laying an electric line from Messrs Dteins’ Castlecary Brickworks to give an additional supply …
02/03/1935 – Falkirk Herald – The sixteenth annual social gathering of the employees of Messrs John G. Stein and Company, Limited was held in the Town Hall, Falkirk, on Friday evening of last week … In review of the past year’s activities, Colonel Stein announced that the attendance at evening classes was 38, and that the bonus paid had been £115. The ambulance class at Castlecary, he said, had just finished another session. Twenty-four had attended; sixteen had sat for the annual examination and obtained certificates, but unfortunately, only two were ladies. The growing toll of road accidents, apart from the risk of accidents at work and in the home, made it desirable that all should have some knowledge of “first-aid” requirements. The class was fortunate in having such a fine lecturer Dr Pearson, and he (Colonel Stein) hoped to see a much larger attendance next session. To Dr Pearson, he tendered sincere thanks for his splendid services, given gratis year after year. While the proportion of women the firm employed was relatively small, he had noticed that only two attended the ambulance class, and two attended the evening classes, these latter being from the staff. He had enquired as to whether there were any evening classes in cookery, and found that they had been discontinued because of the meagre attendance; this made him wonder if the importance of the art of cooking was fully appreciated by the young women of today. It had been the firm’s custom to give women employees a marriage gift at the rate of 10s per year of service, and in future he was going to add a cookery book. He mentioned it at this time, so that the first recipient of book will not look upon the gift as an aspersion on her particular ability as a cook. (Laughter). In connection with suggestions for improvements, only one award had been made during the year, to Mr Alex. McEwan, of the Castlecary Works. Other activities had gone on satisfactorily, and he would like to thank Mr Crawford and his six assistants for the good work they do in the Sunday School; Scoutmaster Muir and his assistant, Mr William Weir for the time devoted to the Boy Scouts; and Mr Donald McLachlan for his work with the Life Boys. With regard to holidays, he wanted to say that while the continuous kilns made it inadvisable to shut down for longer than about three days in the summer, he wanted to encourage all who wanted to take a full week’s holiday, and such could be done by arrangement with a worker’s own departmental foreman so that too many would not be absent from any one department at the same time. With regard to housing, he was pleased to say that baths and other conveniences had been added to twenty-six more houses at Bqnnybridge, and now, with only a few exceptions where difficulties existed, all employees who lived in the firm’s own houses, had their bathrooms. (Applause). In reviewing the trade prospects, Colonel Stein said that many of the younger people would wonder why sixteen years after the Great War we should still be affected by it. But he would remind them that there was a trade depression of seventeen years’ duration following upon the Napoleonic wars. Gold had for a long period provided a stable currency to facilitate the exchange of goods passing from one country to another. The attempt to pay enormous sums to the U.S.A. and France in gold as interest on loans contracted for war material and for reparations completely upset the normal working of the gold standard and led to its abandonment by ourselves and many other countries U.S.A. and France had put up heavy tariffs to prevent payment being made in the form of goods. We now saw each country striving to import as little as possible and to be as self-contained as possible. This was done by increasing the import duties and imposing quotas on imports, altering the value of currency, and other methods. The ideal state of affairs, he averred, seems to be for each country to produce largely those products which it was naturally best fitted to produce, and to exchange these freely for other products which could best be produced elsewhere. In such a way we should reap the benefits of cheap food, and cheap goods of all kinds, and thus raise the standard of living still higher. When a serious dislocation of world trade took place, and a general lack of confidence in the value of currencies existed, it seemed a slow and difficult process to remedy matters, partly because of the many different nationalities concerned, who were all jealous of each other, and somewhat short-sighted. He was an optimist, however, and still believed that the right policy would yet prevail. There was also a crumb of comfort in the present world depression, in that it provided another powerful argument against the folly of war between so-called civilised peoples. While that was, very briefly, the general position, the tale was decidedly more cheerful when they came to their own particular industry. There had been a marked revival in the steel trade, and the brick trade had benefited. The past year had been a record one for the firm; it had 280 more persons employed than two years ago, and for that, he was very thankful. (Applause). The firm was fortunate in securing an increasing share of the business available, and he saw no reason why, with the happy co-operation of all the employees, they should not continue to be well employed. It was all a question of giving good value. (Applause). He had said on previous occasions, it was the earnest desire of his brother, Mr Norman, and himself, to have a happy and friendly atmosphere in all departments, and he hoped the staff and one and all would strive to promote and maintain that desirable good feeling. (Applause.) In conclusion, he said he wanted to thank the employees for the beautiful Welsh dresser (antique) which they were good enough to give him three months previously, as a wedding present. Vociferous applause greeted Col. Stein at the close of his address, which was the most optimistic and encouraging given for many years …
17/10/1935 – The Scotsman – There was reported to the police at Falkirk yesterday a fatality which occurred at Castlecary Brickworks, occupied by J . G . Stein & Co ( Ltd . ) The victim was William Black Goodsir, labourer, 231 A Glasgow Road, Denny-Loanhead who was placing a gangway consisting of two wooden planks across a railway siding when the end of the gangway fell on his head, fracturing his skull. He was removed to Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary, but he died there from the effects of his injuries three hours after admission.
17/01/1936 – Kirkintilloch Gazette – Castlecary – Trade is exceedingly busy at Messrs Steins Fireclay Works at present. Extra accommodation is being provided.
20/11/1937 – Falkirk Herald – Works jubilee. Bonnybridge firm celebrates 50 years of existence. Bonuses for employees. On Wednesday last the well-known firebrick manufacturing firm of Messrs John G. Stein & Co., Ltd., attained its jubilee, and by way of celebrating the auspicious occasion, handsome bonuses were paid yesterday to every worker who had completed more than one week’s service with the firm. The firm, which is one of the foremost of its kind in Europe today, was founded at High Bonnybridge on 17th November 1887, by the late Mr John G. Stein, and has steadily grown from modest beginnings until now it boasts a weekly output of more than a million high-grade firebricks. During the first year of his enterprise, the founder, always keen, progressive businessman, possessed of all the qualities that make for success in the world of commerce, applied his tireless energy, perspicacity and dauntless spirit to the promotion and expansion of his business. Himself an expert experienced salesman, it was no wonder that his efforts met with success. To meet the demand for his bricks, Stein established another brickwork at Denny, where common building bricks were produced until a short time ago when the cessation of activities in that quarter completely severed the firms’ long connection with the building trade. The next step in the progress of the company was the laying down at Castlecary, about thirty-five years ago, of what was for many years afterwards the longest semi-continuous kiln in Europe. The output of the Castlecary works grew steadily to gigantic proportions, which, nevertheless, failed to meet the demands of an extensive market for high-grade refractories. Then came the untimely death of the founder, bringing to a close a life full of commercial adventure, which had won the unconcealed admiration even of his keenest competitors. The directorship of the now flourishing concern passed to Mr Stein’s sons, Colonel Alan Stein, M.C., D.L., Millfield, Polmont and Mr Norman Stein, Langarth, Stirling, with the elder brother, Colonel Stein, as chairman and managing director of the private Limited Company embracing only the founder’s widow and family. The same progressive policy was maintained by the new directors, who, about eight years ago. laid down at Manuel, Linlithgowshire, one of the most modern plants in Europe. An elaborate research laboratory was also built at Castlecary and staffed with highly skilled chemists and physicists. From the windows of this symbol of modernity and efficiency can be seen an interesting paradox in the shape of a grinding mill, the first erected at High Bonnybridge fifty years ago. It still performs its daily grind of raw material, and the many visitors to the works are intrigued by its efficiency after half a century’s continuous work. An inscription plate gives the year of its installation. To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary, every employee with over one year’s service with the firm yesterday received a bonus of one week’s wages; those with over six months’ service, three days’ wages; and those with over one week’s service, one day’s wages. Naturally, such generosity on the part of the directors was deeply appreciated by all recipients.
18/03/1938 – The Scotsman – Matthew Reid, brick worker, residing at 313 Glasgow Road, Longcroft, has succumbed in Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary to injuries which he sustained when he was caught by a revolving belt and carried around machinery and jammed at a pulley at Castlecary Brickworks on Wednesday. Reid’s clothing was caught in the machine at which he was working.
14/05/1938 – Falkirk Herald – A public inquiry into three fatal accidents was held in the Sheriff Court, Falkirk, on Monday, before Sheriff- Substitute Robert Hendry and a jury of seven. The inquiries were conducted by Mr R. W. Dean, the Depute Procurator Fiscal. The first inquiry was into the death of Matthew Jamieson Reid, labourer, 313 Glasgow Road, Longcroft, who was injured on March 16, 1938, while employed at Castlecary Brickworks, belonging to Messrs John G. Stein & Co., Ltd. Reid was removed to the Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary, where he died the same day. Charles Taylor, manager at the Castlecary Brickworks, said that Reid was employed in a store where ashes were raised to the screening plant by means of a conveyor belt. The conveyor belt was driven by an electric motor, which was also used to drive a lime mixer in an adjacent building. Both machines were operated by the same switch. When the conveyor belt was not in use it was the rule to remove the driving belt from the pulleys and to replace the driving belt when it was necessary to use the machine again. In order to replace the driving belt, it was necessary to stand on a beam above the machine. The bottom of this beam was 4ft. 6in. from the ground. On March 16, Taylor added, he was called to the store and found that Reid had been injured. He had fallen from the beam and had been caught in the driving belt. The pulley, he added, revolved at a speed of 25 revolutions per minute. By the time the witness reached the store, the machine had been stopped, and workmen were endeavouring to get Reid out by cutting away his clothing. William McLeod, a labourer employed at the brickworks, said that the men had been given instructions since the accident that they were not to remove the driving belt on the conveyor or replace it when the machine was in motion. On the day in which the accident happened, he added, Reid was standing on the beam which supported the driving shaft. He saw Reid lose his balance and fall over the driving shaft. Reid’s jacket got caught in the mechanism and he was pulled round and round. His legs and body struck parts of the machine as he went round. McLeod shouted to Anderson, who was working at the lime mixer, to stop the motor, and Anderson did so immediately. William Anderson, the labourer who was in charge of the mixer, said that he heard the thump of Reid’s body falling from the beam, and he switched off the machinery at once. Dr W. G. C. Gillies, the resident doctor at Falkirk Infirmary, said that Reid was admitted to the Infirmary. He was suffering from severe shock, and obviously had sustained fractures of the femur, the ribs, and severe bruises. There was also a possibility that his skull was fractured, and that his pelvis had been broken. He died in the Infirmary after admission as a result of multiple injuries. Mrs Reid, the widow of the deceased, said that when her husband left home in the morning to go to work he was in good health. The jury returned a formal verdict.
22/05/1939 – Edinburgh Evening News – John G Stein & Co Ltd, Castlecary Fireclay Works are to give every employee who has 1 years service or over a weeks holiday with pay in the summer. Those with less than a years service will receive one day’s pay for every 2 months service.
14/02/1945 – Falkirk Herald – At Falkirk Justice of the Peace Court on Tuesday, Mr Arthur Fair (presiding) and Major A. Anderson on the Bench, David Hamilton, engineer, 32 Denny Road, Denny Road, Loanhead, was fined 10s with the alternative of five days’ imprisonment on pleading guilty to having, on 11th January, stolen a steel drum from a fireclay stove at Castlecary Brickworks.
07/09/1946 – Falkirk Herald – Wanted men and boys for firebrick works. Good wages. Inexpensive meals are available at the works canteen. Apply John G. Stein & Co., Ltd., Castlecary Works, Bonnybridge.
14/06/1947 – Falkirk Herald – Men wanted for fire clay pit. Mining experience not essential, 6 weeks training given on trade union wages; after training energetic men can earn good wages on piece work – John G Stein & Co Ltd, Castlecary Works, Bonnybridge.
06/12/1947 – Falkirk Herald – Struck by a buckle. A further brickworks fatality was inquired into. On 17th October, David Jamieson (58), charge-hand, 60 Allandale, Bonnybridge lost his life at Castlecary Brickworks belonging to Messrs J. & G. Stein & Co., Ltd. The evidence was to the effect that Jamieson was found lying seriously injured underneath the driving wheel of a crushing machine, and was found to be dead when taken to the ambulance room of the works. A repair had been done to the motor of the machine which had been started up again. No one saw what had happened. Jamieson was last seen outside the wooden guard of the machine. Jamieson was found inside the guard, lying underneath the machine. He was in a crouching position. The buckle of the moving belt had struck him on the head. A formal verdict was returned.
28/02/1948 – Falkirk Herald – Wanted for Castlecary Works, men to train as Silica Brick Moulders, starting at 2s 03/4d per hour; also labourers for engineering and other departments at 2s per hour minimum (men over 21 years) plus good timekeeping bonus; Women and girls as odd stuff dressers and machine hands; 44-hour. 5-day week; union rates of wages: good canteen; bus fares paid over 3s per week.—Apply John G. Stein & Co., Ltd., Castlecary Works, Bonnybridge.
13/03/1948 – Falkirk Herald – Men wanted for fire clay pit. Mining experience not essential, 6 weeks training given on trade union wages; after training energetic men can earn good wages on piece work – John G Stein & Co Ltd, Castlecary Works, Bonnybridge.
Below – 1950 – 1967 – Castlecary Fireclay Works.
03/11/1951 – Falkirk Herald – Electrician wanted; must be skilled in maintenance and repair of all types of motors. Maintenance men and machinists wanted. Must be members of the A.E.U. Apprentices also required to train in these trades. Apply to John Stein & Co, Castlecary Works, Bonnybridge.
01/05/1954 – Falkirk Herald – Boy wanted for firebrick works office at High Bonnybridge. Good prospects for a smart boy. Applications to the Secretary, John Stein & Co, Castlecary Works, Bonnybridge.
09/10/1954 – Falkirk Herald – Maintenance Engineer required for large firebrick works. Applicants should have good general experience in heavy industry, including layout and erection of machinery. Able to control staff of approximately 40. Apply by letter in the first instance, giving details of education, experience, and present responsibilities, to Works Manager, John G. Stein & Co. Ltd., Castlecary Works, Bonnybridge. Stirlingshire.
03/09/1955 – Falkirk Herald – Mr Thomas Fletcher, Annieslea. High Bonnybridge has been promoted from the sales department at Castlecary Brickwork. Allandale, owned by Messrs John G. Stein & Co., Ltd., to be works manager at their Milnquarter Work. High Bonnybridge.
01/1959 – New plant is built to manufacture cements and patches.
07/1960 – The production of the Myrtle, Bluebell and Daisy silica bricks ceases.
1965 – An early computer is installed at the works. This is believed to have been the first installed at a brickworks in Scotland.
12/1979 – Fire brick manufacture is closed down.
10/1981 – Cement and patch manufacture is closed down.