Castlecary V Sankey – connection?

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Following an exchange of thoughts with John Bramall, I am now certain this is another example of a Scottish company manufacturing bricks for a customer and adding their name to the brickmark. See John’s thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

I will leave my original musings below in case our assumption is not correct.


Information and clarity sought. – Castlecary Fireclay Co ….. VERSUS ….J H Sankey & Son, Essex Wharf, Canning Town, London E and Ilford, Essex.

Castlecary Fireclay Co, Stirlingshire was established during the late 19th century by Alexander Weir and  incorporated in 1909. The works in Castlecary were known as Weir’s Castlecary in order to
distinguish from Stein’s Castlecary Works which were nearby. I am not aware of Stein ever marking any of his bricks with Castlecary.


Below  – H Sankey & Son, Essex Wharf, Canning Town, London – 1857 Company established. – Note the reference to Castle Cary  Sankey London ( Castle Cary, Somerset as opposed to Castlecary, Cumbernauld?) and “Castle Cary” is in quotes which may infer it is a different Company to Sankey?

Sankey - Castle Cary

Now then there are a few “facts”  that I cannot get straight  viz

Numerous ‘Sankey’ bricks are found in Scotland and are attributed to JH Sankey as in

Sankey BM Scotch Canningtown  and  Sankey BM Scotch


The Canningtown mark above appears to confirm that the mark BM Scotch belongs to JH Sankey.

But what does BM stand for – perhaps British Made?

and why the mark ‘Scotch’. Scotch is normally used along side a product that is made in Scotland eg ‘Scotch broth’ or ‘Scotch whisky’ or ‘Scotch plaid’. So could BM Scotch mean this is a British product made in Scotland?

You will note from the advert above that JH Sankey also made a brick marked Castle Cary (note the 2 word spelling), Sankey London E. The village of Castle Cary is in Somerset and I cannot find reference for a brickworks there. There is of course, the village of Castlecary in Stirlingshire with a huge brickmaking history. So, then I find these bricks below at the Weir Castlecary brickworks, Stirlingshire….which are marked Castlecary, Sankey, London.

1951 – SANKEY (J. H.) & SON LTD. Head Office: ALDWYCH HOUSE, ALDWYCH, LONDON, W.C.2. Works: REFRACTORIES WORKS, ILFORD, ESSEX. T.A., “Sankey, Ilford”. T.N., ILFord 1127 (6 lines). Established 1857.
Fire cements: Pyruma, Aluma and Siluma; tile cement: Tiluma; firebricks; B.M.Scotch, Aluma (highly aluminous), Leolite (super aluminous), refractory-insulating, etc.; Super acid-resisting cement; acid-resisting bricks: vitrified blue acid and alkali-resisting bricks.
Trade Name: Sankey “Top Brand”.
Directors: M. Sankey; W. G. Lance; J. C. Field.

Castlecary Sankey London and Castlecary Sankey London

There is no space in the word Castlecary so this is more likely to be the Scottish village but why add Sankey, London if it is a product of Scotland.

Castlecary Sankey

Then there is this ‘Sankey’ brick which I found numerous of at the Craigend Brickwork’s, Falkirk. You will note from this link that this Sankey Aluma brick is very similar in shape, size, inclusions, colour and mark to others found at Craigend and confirmed as being their product.

Sankey Aluma

and this further anomaly below  does not help clarify the situation at all – Glascot, BCM/Sankey

Glascot BCM / Sankey

Is there a connection between Castlecary and Sankey via this info below? – if there is I can not see it!

1890 –  Castlecary Fire Clay Co., Ltd., 2 Exchange place, Middlesbrough; Joseph McLauchlan, agent.


Link to Sankey bricks 

Link to Castlecary Fireclay Co bricks

So my question is  – can all ‘Sankey’ marked bricks be attributed solely to JH Sankey London or is it possible that some ‘Sankey’ bricks were made in Scotland and in particular at Castlecary. How do we explain the Castlecary, Sankey and London bricks.  Did Castlecary, Scotland make bricks in Scotland for Sankey and thus marked them up Castlecary Sankey – many Scottish makers eg Hurll, Stein marked their clients names on bricks they made for them.

All insight or thoughts welcome.

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1 Comment

  1. Richard John Bramall 21/01/2016 at 9:25 am

    It looks to me as though Sankey’s were an intermediary buying refractory bricks from a number of manufacturers and were having them stamped with their name either solely or co-branded. Co-branding with Scottish names would give brick buyers confidence that the Sankey quality was comensurate with the Scottish quality. I guess that the Sankey product would be cheaper to the end user customer than the equivalent Scottish or English product. Sankey would probably have had their own catalogue. They probably supplied the gas industry – massive users of refractories. Maybe a London library or archives would have more about Sankeys – perhaps including sales and purchasing records which would shed light on it. Sankey’s probably owned the moulds (paid full price for them) and could move them from one supplying works to another if need be. Typically brick manufacturers of ‘special shapes’ priced and sold the moulds on a ‘part mould’ charge basis so that they retained ownership and control. I don’t know the significance of BM, BCM etc. But BM for British Made sounds feasible. I suppose MAC could be another intermediary brand.

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