Chapelhall Brickworks, Airdrie, North Lanarkshire

The Calder Fireclay Company was founded in 1880 by Robert Fleming & Co with a brickworks at Armadale. The Company was reconstructed in 1892 as the Calder Fireclay Co and passed into the control of the Paine family who erected a brickworks 2 miles south-east of Airdrie near the Carnbroe Iron Works. They also worked the fireclay and had a brickworks at Hareshaw near Shotts from 1907 to 1919. James Paine joined his father in the business after WW1. Their firebricks, branded Calder, won an excellent reputation for service in blast furnaces.  The Calder works used 9 Newcastle type kilns with about a 50-ton capacity each. They used a large number of hand moulders as a 1925 catalogue claims all firebricks were handmade. This lack of brick manufacturing machines and the smallness of the Company made it difficult to compete in the 1930’s so an agreement was signed with the Bonnybridge Silica Company to merge on 18/01/1936. Calder owned a mineral field of about 30 acres at Chapelhall, 2 miles south-east of Airdrie with easy access to a railway siding. The combined company decided to build modern works on this site. By March 1937 the Bonnybridge and Calder works were reported at full production and the new Chapelhall Works had started to produce saleable fire bricks.  The original intention to close the Calder Works was postponed. The Calder brand continued after the merger with the Calder Fireclay Company and was used mainly for bricks made at the Chapelhill Works.  Octo and Novo brands were introduced in the 1960s for high alumina bricks. Source Kenneth W Sanderson.

28/02/1936 – Bellshill Speaker – New brickwork to be erected at Chapelhall. To be erected at Chapelhall. The housing boom in Lanarkshire is effecting Chapelhall where negotiations are now going forward for the acquisition of several acres of ground by a Bonnybridge firm for the construction of a brick factory. The brick factory is expected to be producing by about mid-summer. The Airdrie Labour Exchange, which regards the village as one of the worst depressed areas in the county, anticipate that more than 100 men will be engaged at the outset. A small percentage will be skilled labourers. The factory will have the advantage of having its own clay pit.

04/09/1936 – Motherwell Times  – Brickwork for Chapelhall – Chapelhall village is to have an industry, the first for ten years. A new industry is the manufacture of fireclay bricks. Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Company are building a factory. Constructional work is being pushed ahead and it is hoped to begin production towards the end of October. Work will be given to about 200 men. The latest type of machinery will be installed in the factory. Bricks produced will be for home use and export.

08/01/1937 – West Lothian Courier – New brickwork. Airdrie industry to commence production this month. A new brickwork, erected at Chapelhall Airdrie, by the Bonnybridge Fireclay and Silica Co., is to commence production towards the end of the month, giving employment to 50 men at the start, and later, when the peak of production is reached, to 100 men. The plant, erected at a cost of over £70,000 is claimed to be one of the three most modern plants of its kind in Scotland, having many technical features used for the first time in Britain. House bricks, roof tiles and fireclay bricks or refractory bricks can be produced by the plant, but it is expected that refractory bricks to be used in furnaces will be manufactured at the start. The fireclay is obtained from a mine about a quarter of a mile away, and is transported to the brickwork by an overhead railway supported on three pylons.

12/03/1938 – Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser – Assault at Chapelhall Brickworks over a machinery issue.

12/11/1938 – Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser – A new trading estate is being established at Chapelhall and adjoining the estate is a busy brickwork.

14/01/1939 – Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser – … The year 1937 was a memorable one for Chapelhall as it marked the opening of a new fireclay brick works, claimed to be the most modern in Britain. Equipped with the latest scientific devices, the works turn out millions of bricks to swell the station quota, and Mr Hislop and “Archie” saw to it that the whole output was satisfactorily dealt with by the L.M.S. services. Rich in clay deposits, Chapelhall may now be regarded as a quota-getter’s happy hunting ground, although competition is ever-present. The improvement can be measured from the fact that the goods quota receipts amounted to £8614 in 1937 as compared with only £151 in 1935 …

04/07/1939 – The Scotsman – Lanark County Council has been given notice by H. M. Inspector of Mines of the abandonment of the following mines: Gain Mine, Glenboig belonging to the Glenboig Union Fireclay Co., Ltd ., Glasgow … Chapelhall, belonging to the Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Co., Ltd., Bonnybridge.

Below – 1944 – 1970 – Chapelhall Brickworks.

Below – 1946 – Chapelhall Fire Brickworks – (Calder)

Below – 05/1960 – The Refractories Journal

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