Cumnock Pottery, Cumnock, East Ayrshire

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 the 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 ‘brown ware’ 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 refractory crucibles when combined with local fireclay. Production was from the early 1780s. 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 responsible for the manufacture of pencils on a limited scale up to the 1840s. 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 period of production of the pottery was from 1886 to 1920 with control of the company being provided by the stepson 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 (Ochiltree).

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.

1886 – James McGavin Nicol, brick and tile maker, Ochiltree and Cumnock, Ayrshire.

19/07/1890 – North British Daily Mail – Industries of the West of Scotland. No 10. Old Cumnock … Cumnock Pottery Co … The same firm has Burnfoot Brick and Tile Works at Ochiltree, employing 14 hands and Wellhill Tileworks at New Cumnock employing 10 hands. They also have a lime works at New Cumnock producing the celebrated Benstone lime and a small colliery at the same place in which 9 men are employed …

1893 – James Nicol, brick and tile maker, Cumnock Pottery, Ayrshire.

1901 – Directory of Clay Workers – Cumnock Pottery Co, Ochiltree and Glaisnock Street, Cumnock, Ayrshire.


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