Duddingston, East Lothian – early brickmaking


Besides colliers and salters, there were in former times in the 
parish of Duddingston other industries dependent upon the natural 
products of the earth, without the notice of which our narrative 
would not be complete. We refer particularly to the freestone 
quarries of Joppa, and the fire-clay brick work. 

Perhaps the earliest quarrying for stone required for the houses 
at Joppa, was made at either side of the ''Pans," where the 
stratum of freestone cropped out and was exposed to view. Little 
labour was required to detach the blocks from the cliff, which 
must then have presented a bold front to the sea. On the west 
side of the '* Pans," where not covered up by the sloping bulwark, 
may still be seen a portion of the freestone bed. It has long 
ceased to be wrought. A few hundred yards further west and 
opposite the houses of Joppa, on the property of Major Adair (a 
somewhat eccentric character in his day), a second quarry was 
opened towards the latter part of last century ; and a third, and 
by far the largest and most important, was started on the south 
side of the village and close to Easter Duddingston, on the ground 
of the Marquis of Abercom. The quality of the sandstone beds 
there laid open was very varied, some layers being fine grained 
and compact, others friable and composed of large loosely 
cemented quartzose particles, while small strata of limestone and 
ironstone frequently occurred, intermixed with several coal seams. 
A large portion of the town of Portobello in the early years of its 
history was built from this latter quarry. The stone is not con- 
sidered good for house building, there being too much inequality 
in the grain, and the presence of iron ore too frequently dis- 
colouring the buildings erected by it. 

In both quarries, however, there existed fine seams of fire-clay 
from six to fourteen feet thick. Close to the second or seaside 
quarry there was established in the latter part of last century a 
large fire-clay work chiefly for the making of bricks, which was 
carried on with success till about fifty years ago, first by Mr John 
Smith, Baron Bailie of Duddingston, and latterly by Mr Allan 

The brickwork, which was capable of turning out about 18,000 
bricks per week, stood close to the sea beach in what was latterly 
called Joppa Park ; but the whole area is now entirely covered 
with dwellings. Here there was a considerable range of offices, 
sheds, kilns, and workmen's houses, which were protected on the 
seaward side by a high stone wall which stood a few feet outside 
the present Promenade. About fifty years ago the works being 
disused fell into ruins, and ultimately the sea wall was swept 
away by the sea. Occasionally, however, its foundations may 
yet be seen after some high tide has lowered the level of the sand. 

Below - 21/09/1812 - Caledonian Mercury - Fire brick and Clay Joppa
TO CONSUMERS OF FIRE BRICK AND FIRE CLAY - THE Public are informed, they can now be supplied with these articles from the BRICK-WORK at JOPPA, 
three miles from Edinburgh, on the London road.  The brick has already been submitted to the severest tests.  
It has stood the cupola heat in the foundries, along with English brick, and no difference whatsoever could be perceived.  
It has been tried too in a variety of other manufactures with equal success.
The FIRE Clay is admitted, by those who have used it, to be superior to that hitherto imported from  England, 
being free from impurity, and far better ground.  The price for both articles is considerably lower prime cost, 
and when the expense of importation is added, the proprietor can assure customers of a very great saving.  
On trial, they will find these commodities answer completely the description here given of them.  The brick can be furnished of all sizes and shapes.
Orders addressed to James Albee, clear to the brick-work, Joppa, by Edinburgh; T. M. Parker, colour-works, Leith; 
or to William Hamilton, W. S. Tiviot Row, Edinburgh, will be carefully attended to. ( Still available to let on 15/04/1813)

26/04/1813 - Caledonian Mercury  - Fire brick manufactory to be let - Scots Fire Brick equal to English. 
To be Let, for such period as shall be agreed on, and entered to immediately, or at Whitsunday.
The Fire Brick Work at Joppa, three miles from Edinburgh, on the London Road.
This work consists of a square 110 feet each side, roofed in round and round, 
so that the manufacture can be carried on both as to men and horses, 
under cover, and independent of the weather, at all seasons; 
there is sufficient cover too, both for prepared and raw materials.
Within the square also is comprehended an office; a moulder and carter's house; 
a stable for four horses; two horse mills, and a pump well (inside the moulding-house), 
affording an uninterrupted supply of water.  The sea washes the north wall of the work, 
and the beach here, being the finest possible, vessels can in moderate weather load close 
to the work: on the south, within a few yards, is the London Road.
The main seam of fire-clay is 14 feet thick, laying nearly perpendicular 
to the surface of the ground.-It runs in a direct line from the high way 
to the sea,and almost on contact with the manufactory.-Parallel to, and 
within two feet of which, is another seam, six feet thick, besides several 
others in the property, yet untouched;-so that the supply may be considered inexhaustible.  
The tacksman of the stone quarry will, if desired, undertake to lay the fire-clay on bank upon reasonable terms.
The manufactory is at present capable of turning out 18,000 bricks per week, 
and the present demand exceeds the supply.  The northern ports being now open, 
an increased demand may be looked for.  
The bricks have undergone repeated trials in all the manufactories 
that make use of that article, and are fully ascertained to be equal 
to the English brick.-The ground fire-clay is admitted to be superior.
Mr James Alves, manager, Alexander Ross, or Andrew Scott, at the work, will show the premises.
Offers, in writing,will be received until the 15th day of May next, by William Hamilton, W. S. 5, Tiviot Row, Edinburgh, who will conclude a bargain.
The Joppa Quarry, to the south of Joppa Station, was opened 
about the year 1780 by Mr Alexander Robertson. He was suc- 
ceeded by his son of the same name, who long resided in Joppa, 
and who by his industry acquired a large fortune, principally in 
the com trade. Mr Bobertson continued to excavate both stone 
and fire-clay till about the year 1817, when he became involved 
in a dispute with the Marquis of Abercorn, which was carried 
into Court, and decided in his favour. On the expiry of his lease, 
however, the quarry was taken from him and let to Mr Living- 

Mr Livingston having exhausted the clay in his lower Joppa 
Quarry some years previous, found the large quarry a great 
acquisition, as he could now carry on the brick making without 
being dependent on others for his clay. The quarry and brick- 
work were carried on by him till 1845, when he became tenant of 
the Abercorn Brick Works in Portobello. Being thereafter abandoned,
the Joppa Brick Work fell into ruins, and as we have 
indicated, has left no visible trace behind. 

The larger or Easter Duddingston quarry continued to be used 
by Mr Livingston till his death in 1858, and by his son, Mr Allan 
Livingston, some years thereafter ; but for more than a quarter of 
a century it has ceased to be wrought. 

The fire-clay was dug out by running long parallel galleries 
underground following the stratum, and here, as in the adjoining 
coal pits, the drudgery work of carrying the fire-clay was often 
done by women, who toiled along the low-roofed galleries to the open 
level with their boxes on their backs called ''hutches," fastened 
with a leather strap across their foreheads like a fishwife's creel ; 
each load weighing nearly a hundredweight. Toilsome, unhealthy 
work it must have been, degrading to the last degree as employ- 
ment for women. But we have people living amongst us still who 
remember seeing them engaged at it. 

During the latter years of his life, when residing in Portobello. 
Hugh Miller found the quarry of Joppa a favourite hunting 
ground. Here in its inner recesses, he discovered many interest- 
ing geological specimens, which furnished him with illustrations 
and confirmations of those wonderful theories of his which so 
charmed and instructed the scientific world of forty or fifty years 
Source  - Annals of Duddingston and Portobello 1898

A. Livingston & Son, Patent, Portobello
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