Drum Fireclay Pits, East Whitburn, West Lothian.

Robertson, Love & Co were liquidated in 1916 but continued to make firebricks as part of United Collieries Ltd. When coal was nationalised in 1947, the brickworks were reorganised as United Fireclay Products Ltd. and comprised the Etna and Atlas Firebrick Works, the Bathville Pipe Works, the UNICOL Tile Works, all at Armadale and the Brownhill Building Brickworks at Clelland, Lanarkshire. The chief refractory brands were Etna (33% alumina), Atlas (38% alumina), and Atlas A (42% alumina), all based on local fire clays. The Bents Mine near Stoneyburn supplied an excellent 42% alumina fireclay from which the Mars brand was made, but the fireclay was worked out and the mine closed in 1929. The Drum Mine near East Whitburn took over and the Northrigg No 7 pit supplied fireclay for pipes and some coal. The Tippethill Mine (38% alumina, 2.5% iron) replaced the Drum Mine in 1960 and the Pottishaw Mine replaced Northrigg in 1963.

Below – 1938 – Drum Fireclay Pits, Northrigg Colliery near Pottishaw, East Whitburn.

1944 – 1969 – Map shows the Drum pits and Northrigg Colliery as disused.

11/02/1944 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – James Dick, miner, pleaded guilty by letter to having, on 24th January, conducted himself in a disorderly manner and committed a breach of the peace at the Drum Fireclay Pit at Bathvllle, Armadale. The Fiscal said that the manager of the colliery had instructed this man to go somewhere else, but he would not go and had a good deal of talk about it. Evidently, he used very threatening language to the manager. In his letter, the accused said that the manager had sent him to a wet place, and he refused on the ground that there was not a suit of oilskins. The manager said the place was “dry,” and he went into it with the manager following. The manager kept threatening him with three days’ suspension, and he lost his temper. A penalty of 30s was imposed with the alternative of ten days imprisonment.

28/09/1945 – West Lothian Courier – Reference to 2 men being convicted of a break into the office at the Drum Fireclay Pit, Bathville.

Below – Information – British Geological Survey. Ganister from the United Collieries Limited Drum Pits, Torbanehill, Whitburn near Armadale, Linlithgowshire
This specimen of ganister is from Ganister from the United Collieries Limited, Drum Pits, Torbanehill, Whitburn near Armadale and is Carboniferous, Millstone Grit in age.
The works associated with the pit were called the Atlas and Etna Brickworks at Armadale about half a mile southeast of the village.
Ganister is a highly siliceous bedded sedimentary rock that resembles quartzite. The name Upper Fireclay has been given to a group of fireclays and ganisters in the upper part of the Millstone Grit. In the Bonnybridge district of Stirlingshire, a few miles east of Falkirk, the economic value of the Upper Fireclay has long been recognised and the beds have been
extensively worked. The Upper Fireclay includes both refractory clays and ganisters.

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