Brick manufacture – did not develop early in Scotland, where there were ample supplies of stone. However, tiles were worked from medieval times, especially for the decoration of religious houses. By the late 18th century, brickmaking for house building was on the rise, as was an interest in the hand manufacture of earthenware tiles and pipes…
The Cumnock Pottery – James Taylor on his arrival at the pottery was put to task in carrying out a geological survey of the minerals available on the estate of the Earl Patrick of Dumfries. In 1792, Mr Taylor was manager of all operations in extracting lime, coal, black lead (wadd), ironstone, clay and lead. Also included was the mining of Antimony. A pottery producing ‘brownware’ had previously been set up in Cumnock. A rare deposit of white porcelain clay had at various times, been worked.
The occurrence of graphite at Craigman was responsible for the pottery’s manufacture of refarctory crucibles when combined with local fireclay. Production was from the early 1780’s. The local fireclay deposits provided material from which firebricks were manufactured and these were required for building and repairing the potter’s kilns.
Taylor was also reponsible for the manufacture of pencils on a limited scale up to the 1840’s. Pantiles and a limited number of wheel thrown drain tiles were made at the pottery also.
When James Taylor died in 1825, the management of the pottery is leased to his son Robert, then aged 22. As a result of a depressed market, he only ran the factory for 6 years then the lease was advertised. As there was no uptake on the pottery lease it reverted back to Robert. Robert was also involved in the establishment of a tilework in the Parish of Ochiltree at Burnfoot.
From 1838 the pottery was under the control of Alexander Hamilton of Mauchline and this was combined with the Burnfoot Tileworks to form a new company. In the same year Mr Hamilton proposed opening a new tilework at Benston. This was called Wellhill Tilework. In addition to this a clay field was also leased in the Parish of Old Cumnock. The final perios of production of the pottery was from 1886 to 1920 with control of the company being provided by the step son of James McGavin Nicol, Mr David Dunsmor……. Unknown source.
1817 – The Cumnock Pottery, under the directorship of James Taylor were to produce bricks for the construction of the Catrine Cotton Mill in 1817. Source – Matthew Yuill.
1838 – The Cumnock Pottery passed into the hands of Alexander Hamilton of Mauchline who ran it in conjunction with the Burnfoot Tileworks.
1839 – After the death of her husband Alexander, Mary Hamilton was to influence the outcomes of the business at Cumnock with regard the management of the pottery ( Note – SBH – Did this include the tileworks at Burnfoot). Unknown source.
1856 – James McGavin Nicol was now in control at the pottery after 1856 and he continued with the brown, black and rockingham ware.
1860 – The lease was in the name of Hugh Meikle however James Nicol was still in the business of making bricks and tiles at Cumnock. Unknown source.