Dykehead Fire Brick Works, Bonnybridge, Falkirk, Stirlingshire

Canmore – Dykehead Fireclay Works.

Source Falkirk Museum and Archives – George Turnbull and Company, Dykehead Brickworks, Bonnybridge. Established in 1839. Founder Miss Margaret Donald.

The works never became profitable and she eventually sold them to marry and emigrated to Australia. The site was later taken over by George Turnbull & Co.

The works stood on a Millstone Grit bed of clay and had their own mine just to the south of the works. When owned by George Turnbull, together with the Bonnymuir Tileworks they produced blast furnace linings, gas works blocks, grate back bricks, fire bricks, furnace blocks, cupola’s, ladles, boiler seat blocks, flue covers and ground ganister – Castings Magazine 1923 advert.

23/03/1889 – Falkirk Herald – Deaths – At Bonnybridge on 20th inst, George Turnbull, brick manufacturer in his 79th year.

1906 – A mine at Dykehead was established and later the Dykehead Fireclay works were established and the Woodlea Brickworks were abandoned.

1912 – Robert Dougall dies shortly after Dykehead Brickworks had been started.

1913 – Margaret and Janet Dougall die and a niece, Margaret Turnbull Dougall takes over. The Dykehead Ganister and Fireclay Company Ltd is established to take over the assets of George Turnbull & Co. Margaret Turnbull Dougall is the sole partner.

Below – 1915 – Dykehead Brickworks, Bonnybridge.

Dykehead 1915

07/07/1916 – Sheffield Daily Telegraph – Silica and firebrick maker wanted, with a thorough knowledge of the manufacture of silica and firebrick; able to take charge, and teach staff new works. Apply, with testimonials (copies only) and state salary required, Miss Dougall, Dykehead Ganister and Firebrick Company, Bonnybridge. Stirlingshire.

05/08/1916 – Dundee Courier – New Scottish company. The following new joint-stock companies have been registered in Scotland during this week: Dykehead Ganister and Firebrick Company, Bonnymuir Brickworks, Bonnybridge. Private company Capital, £10,000, in shares. Office, Dykehead, Bonnybridge.

26/10/1916 – The Scotsman – Side tipping waggons wanted. 12 side tipping waggons (steel) 2ft 6in to 3ft wide, 22in or 24in gauge. Also a quantity of solid rails. Apply Dykehead Ganister and Firebrick Company, Bonnybridge. Stirlingshire.

04/12/1916 – The Scotsman – Winding engine (small)and boiler, also a large quantity of solid rails (15 – 20lb) wanted. Apply Dykehead Ganister and Firebrick Company, Bonnybridge. Stirlingshire.

27/12/1916 – Falkirk Herald – Labourers – a number of labourers are wanted by Dykehead Ganister and Fireclay Company Ltd, Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire.

12/05/1917 – The Scotsman – Firebricks, ganister and fireclay. Experienced Scottish representative wanted. State qualifications and wages required. Enclose copies (only) of testimonials. Dykehead Ganister and Fireclay Company Ltd, Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire.

04/08/1917 – Falkirk Herald – Male and female workers wanted. Dykehead Brickworks, Bonnybridge.

27/10/1917 – Falkirk Herald – Brickmakers and odd stuff hands wanted. Apply Dykehead Ganister and Firebrick Company, Bonnybridge.

08/12/1917 – Falkirk Herald – Labourers wanted. Good wages. Dykehead Ganister and Fireclay Company Ltd, Bonnybridge.

20/03/1918 – Falkirk Herald – Margaret Paterson or Lennox, brickworker, Lochview, High Bonnybridge, admitted having assaulted Agnes McVicar or McGarr in Dykehead Brickworks, by striking her on the face with her fists. She stated that her daughter and the other woman were quarrelling, and she (the accused) went in between them. The penalty was a fine of 10s.

27/03/1918 – Falkirk Herald – Patrick Nally, brickworker, Glenyards, Bonnybridge admitted to having assaulted Edward Hynds, brickworker in Dykehead Brick Works on 21st March while Hynds was at work. He pleaded not guilty to the charge of having committed a breach of the peace and his plea having been accepted the accused was fined £1.

1919 – Dykehead Ganister and Fireclay Company Ltd is purchased by Gerald Hooper of Joseph Kimber and Co, London. Thomas Walker is appointed Works Manager of Dykehead and Bonnymuir Works. (Source Kenneth Sanderson).

c. 1919 – The Glenboig Union Fireclay Co. Ltd operated Castlecary Fireclay Co; Faskine and Palacerigg Bricks and Coal; George Turnbull and Co; Bonnymuir and Dykehead Works.

1919 – The Glenboig Union Fireclay Co. Ltd was founded by James Dunnachie & partners by the amalgamation of the “Old Works” and the “Star Works” in Glenboig. The company specialised in the production of refractory ceramic goods (e.g. furnace lining bricks and pipework) for the iron and steel industry which was flourishing in numerous nearby large industrial towns. By expansion and/or take-overs the company went on to operate several other works, viz.: Cumbernauld Fireclay Works & Mine (c.1882); Gartcosh Works (1890); Castlecary Fireclay Co. Ltd (1919 ?); Faskine & Palacerigg Bricks & Coal Ltd (1919 ?); George Turnbull & Co. Ltd – Bonnymuir and Dykehead Works (1919 ?). The Glenboig Union Fireclay Co. Ltd was purchased by General Refractories Ltd of Sheffield in 1936 which in turn became G.R. Stein Refractories Ltd in 1967.

13/03/1920 – Falkirk Herald – In the Royal Hotel, on Friday evening last, Mr James Kirkwood, of the Dykehead Fireclay Company, was the guest of his fellow-workers and was made the recipient of a handsome gold Albert the occasion of his leaving the district to take up a three-year appointment with the Boness Company Limited, Alexandria (Alexandra ?) Brickworks Singapore. Mr Robert Manson, mine manager, occupied the chair, and the gift was handed over by Mr McKim. A pleasant time was thereafter spent in song and sentiment. Kirkwood left the village on Thursday to take up his new appointment.

1922 – 1923 – Directors describe trade as very poor and the maximum production at Dykehead Works was 50,000 bricks per month due to restrictions in the railway sidings.

16/02/1924 – Falkirk Herald – Bonnybridge brick workers. Successful Function. On Friday evening last, the employees of Messrs George Turnbull & Co., Ltd., Bonnymuir and Dykehead Brickworks, and friends met in the Territorial Hall on the occasion of their annual social meeting and dance. A company numbering 110 sat down to supper. Mr F. C. Swallow, managing director, presided at the top table and was accompanied by Mr J. F. Cameron, Mr R. Swallow. Mr A. E. Hubbard, and Mr T. Easton. Full justice having been done to the excellent repast purveyed by the Co-operative Society, Ltd., The Chairman, in the course of a short address, said that the past year had been a trying one for many. The boom in trade they had all yearned for had not materialised, although, fortunately, for the population locally, the pinch had not been felt to the same extent as in other parts of the country. There were few things so pathetic as the spectacle presented by able-bodied men walking about the streets, willing to work, but denied employment owing to the stress of economic circumstances. Happily, the Dykehead and Bonnymuir establishment was favoured with good work. On behalf of Major Hopper, the chairman of the company, and his fellow directors, he desired to express their appreciation of all that their employees had done and were doing to ensure the success and prosperity of Bonnymuir and Dykehead Works Although they did not see them very often, the directors had such confidence in the efficiency of their managers, staff, and workmen that they did not need to watch them. On their periodic visits to the works they always found a happy group of workers. He sincerely trusted that their good trade would continue in 1924. (Applause.) An excellent programme was contributed to by Misses J. McMaster, N. Jeffrey, E. Knox, and J. Knox, and Messrs J, Pirie and McKim. The accompaniments were ably played by Mr J. Hope, Larbert. Votes of thanks to the firm and to the artistes were proposed Mr Cameron and W. Boak respectively and heartily responded to. An interesting feature of the proceedings was the presentation by the employees to Mr F C Swallow of two beautiful watercolour paintings. Mr McKim, who made the presentation said it was a very fortunate day for them when Mr Swallow became managing director of the works. He had shown to them, by his kind consideration and sympathetic manner, that he was a thorough gentleman. He had much pleasure in asking Mr Swallow to accept the gifts. Mr Swallow, in reply, said that the occasion was a surprise to him and that he thought it was more than he deserved. He would, however, try to live up to the excellent character which Mr McKim had given him. The dance which followed was enthusiastically entered into, fine music being supplied by the Hope Orchestra, Larbert. The duties of M.C.’s were efficiently discharged by Messrs R. Miller and J. McLuskie.

1927 – 1928 – Business was still poor and the lease was up for renewal. Profits were down and directors took a pay cut. Zetland Estates who owned the land and mineral rights
agreed on a new lease after a new 16 chambered kiln was erected. The Dykehead Ganister and Fireclay Company was liquidated and all assets were transferred to a new George Turnbull & Co Ltd.

14/03/1931 – Falkirk Herald – Last Friday evening the directors of Messrs George Turnbull & Co., Ltd., entertained the employees of Bonnymuir and Dykehead Brickworks to dinner and dance in the Masonic Hall. After the company had partaken of a splendid dinner, which was daintily served by the catering staff of the local Co-operative Society, Ltd., Mr F. C. Swallow, managing director of the firm, extended a welcome to the guests and expressed the hope that the evening would prove an enjoyable one for all present. Mr J. F. Cameron then asked Mr Swallow to convey to his co-directors the thanks of the guests for their kindness on this further occasion. Thereafter the tables were removed, and a concert party, composed entirely of employees from both works, submitted a very enjoyable programme. A vote of thanks to the artistes was heartily given on the call of Mr Swallow and neatly replied to by Mr William Boak. Mr William McLuskie paid a similar compliment to Mr Swallow for the capable way he had presided over the gathering. The hall was then cleared for dancing, which was carried on until an appropriate hour. The music was supplied by Mr Jack Shearer’s Ramblers dance band, that created a good impression upon their first appearance in the village last week, while extra numbers were tastefully played by Mrs J. Walker, who also acted accompanist the concert. The duties of M.C. were ably and jointly fulfilled by Messr William McLuskie and J. Pirrie, The concert programme, which was of a high standard, was as follows …

Below – 27/02/1934  – Glasgow Herald – Dykehead Firebrick Works sold to General Refractories Ltd.

George Turnbull Dykehead 1934

27/02/1934 – Daily Herald – General Refractories. Ltd., of Sheffield have acquired control of George Turnbull and Company. Ltd.. fireclay and ganister mine owners of Bonnyhridge, Scotland, manufacturers of ‘Dykehead’ firebricks. The works are well equipped and conveniently situated between the ports of Grangemouth in the East and Glasgow in the West. It is expected that General Refractories, whose sales organisation covers the whole of Europe, will benefit considerably from the acquisition of this further source of supply. The company has an issued capital of £120,000 in 10s. shares, and paid 2 per cent interim on account of 1933. In each of the two preceding years, no dividend was paid.

09/02/1935 – Falkirk Herald – The staff and employees of Messrs George Turnbull & Company’s Bonnymuir and Dykehead Fireclay Works were entertained in the Public Hall last Friday evening when the old-established firm held its annual social meeting and dance. The hall was tastefully decorated for the occasion, and at the commencement, Mr Thomas Easton, manager, introduced Mr R. A. Kirkby, the new managing director of the firm, who was accompanied on the platform by Mrs Kirkby. Mr Kirkby then took the chair, and later in the evening, in the course of a general review of past activities, present trade conditions, and future prospects of refractory materials, sounded an encouraging note of optimism. As bearing upon the firm’s future policy, he said that the Company intended to develop the firebrick trade at Dykehead Works, by making extensive alterations. This announcement was enthusiastically received by the assembly of employees. Later, Mr J. A. Cameron, agent for the firm, proposed a vote of thanks to the directors for such generosity as they continued to show from year to year by this annual event. A splendid concert programme was then sustained by the employees, at the close of which votes of thanks were given on the call of Messrs W. McLuskie and W. Boak, foremen of Bonnymuir and Dykehead Works respectively. The hall was then cleared for dancing, which was carried on to the tuneful music by Mr T. Fowler’s Band. The catering was in the hands of the local Cooperative Society, Ltd.

04/11/1936 – Falkirk Herald – Thomas Hussey, labourer, 1 Brick Cottages, Greenhill by Bonnybridge tendered a plea of not guilty to a charge of assault when he appeared before Sheriff Hendry at Falkirk Sheriff Court on Monday. The accused was charged with having, 25th September, in a kiln at Dykehead Brickworks, High Bonnybridge, occupied by George Turnbull & Co., Ltd., assaulted James McKeever, brickworker, Laurelbank, Greenhill by striking him a blow on the arm and hand with a shovel and cutting his wrist and finger … fined 10s with the alternative of 5 days imprisonment.

01/02/1937 – Nottingham Journal – The Dykehead Firebrick Works, Bonnybridge, Scotland of  George Turnbull and Co.. Ltd., one of the General Refractories group, has now been entirely re-conditioned and reequipped. Almost every process has been and rendered automatic, including the selection of grain size and the classification of particles. The bricks are now made by a semi-dry process in a powerful press supplied by Messrs Wm Johnson and Sons (Leeds) Ltd., and during the entire process are brought into contact with an absolute minimum of moisture. The result has been that on test, they have stood one and three-quarter times as long as the bricks made by the older and usual process, and the work’s output is now sold ahead for the next three months.

20/03/1937 – Falkirk Herald – The directors of George Turnbull & Co.. Ltd. held their annual social evening for the employees of their Bonnymuir and Dykehead Works last Friday. A number of guests were unable to be present on account of the bad weather conditions. Owing to the indisposition of R. A. Kirkby, managing director, who has just undergone an operation. Mr C. A. G. Thomson, director, presided at the dinner. He was accompanied by Mrs Thomson. During his remarks, he spoke of the alterations that had taken place at the Dykehead Works, and also of the improved trading conditions in the firebrick industry. He thought that the outlook was very bright and would mean steady work for all concerned. A very enjoyable entertainment was then given by a number of employees of both works. Mr Jas. F. Cameron, in proposing a vote of thanks to the directors, mentioned how much everyone enjoyed this annual reunion. W. C. Priddy thanked all the artistes who had taken part in the entertainment and Mr W. McLuskie proposed a vote of thanks to Mr Thomson, the chairman, which was enthusiastically given. The rest of the evening was spent in dancing to music supplied by the Lyric Dance Band. The catering was in the hands of the Bonnybridgo Co-operative Society and was up to their usual high standard.

01/02/1937 – Aberdeen Press and Journal – The Dykehead Firebrick Works of George Turnbull and Co., one of the General Refractories Group, has now been entirely re-conditioned and re-equipped by the latter, and is today a model firebrick-making plant. Bricks are now made by the semi-dry process, and on test, they have stood one and three-quarter times as long as the bricks made by the older and usual process. The works output is now sold ahead for the next three months.

09/10/1937 – Falkirk Herald – September 21st the office at Dykehead Brickworks, High Bonnybridge, occupied by George Turnbull and Co Ltd was broken into and a pocket diary, a paper knife and a padlock key were stolen … Thomas Connell was convicted of this crime and others and fined £2 or 14 days in prison.

31/01/1940 – Falkirk Herald – Allowed boys to work on Sunday. Glenboig Union Fireclay Company, Ltd., firebrick manufacturers, Dykehead Works, High Bonnybridge, were charged at Falkirk Sheriff Court on Monday with having employed three young persons on Sunday, December 17, 1939, in contravention of the Factory Acts. The prosecution was brought at the instance of Mr David Menzies, factory inspector, and Mr Menzies conducted the case in Court. He pointed out that it was an offence to employ young persons on a Sunday. The boys involved in the case, he said, had got behind with their work, and they went to work on the Sunday to get it completed. Dr T. A. Ross, solicitor, Falkirk, who tendered a plea of guilty on behalf of the company, said the company were engaged on important work, and it was essential that they should complete their contracts on time. It was because of that fact that the three boys were permitted to work on a Sunday. Dr Ross said it was understandable that the provisions of the Act might be overlooked inadvertently at a time when the company was working/under great stress. Sheriff-Substitute Hendry imposed a fine of £8 and also ordered the company to pay £1 2s 6d in expenses.

10/08/1940 – Falkirk Herald – Tragic occurrence created a sensation in High Bonnybridge district on Monday evening last, when a fireclay worker named Robert Donnelly suddenly collapsed on the roadway and died. Deceased, who was 49 years of age, was employed at Dykehead Fireclay Works, where he had been working late owing to the pressure of work there. Leaving the brickwork, he was proceeding to his home at Anderson Terrace, Longcroft, and was only a short distance from his place of employment when, without warning, he collapsed and died. He leaves a widow and grown-up daughter, to whom the sympathy of the community goes out in their tragically sudden loss.

17/08/1940 – Falkirk Herald – Good odd stuff maker required immediately. Apply personally in writing to the manager Glenboig Union Fireclay Company, Ltd., Dykehead Works, Bonnybridge,

Below – 1944 – 1967 – Dykehead Fireclay Works

22/10/1947 – Falkirk Herald – Young labourer suffocated. A fatal accident occurred on Monday forenoon at the Dykehead Works. Bonnybridge, of the Union Fireclay Company, Ltd. Michael Traynor (15), labourer, who resided at 3 Bonnyside Road, Bonnybridge accidentally fell into a hopper containing milled clay. He was completely buried, and when taken out was found to be dead, death being due to suffocation.

06/12/1947 – Falkirk Herald – A second brickworks which caused the death of Michael Traynor, 15 years of age, who resided at 3 Sunnybrae, Bonnybridge was inquired into. Traynor was employed as a brickworker at Dykehead Brickworks, Bonnybridge, on 20th October, when he fell into a hopper containing powder milled clay and was asphyxiated. A German prisoner-of-war, who was employed at the brickworks belonging to the Glenboig Union Fireclay Company, Ltd., said Traynor was working on a platform above one of the hoppers. It was Traynor’s duty to facilitate the free movement of the clay by using a long pole and a shovel. As powdered clay was not running freely from a hopper, the witness opened the shutter at the bottom, put in his hand and touched a boot. He immediately gave the alarm, and the boy’s body was found buried in the clay. Further evidence was to the effect that no one saw what had actually happened. The last time the boy was seen he was on the platform at the top of the hopper. The lad might have slipped off the platform or from the ladder inside the hopper. When the alarm was raised, eight to nine tons of clay was taken from the hopper. This took half an hour. The boy, who was found in a crouching position was dead. A verdict in accordance with the evidence was given.

08/03/1950 – Falkirk Herald –  Crushing machine. Company failed to provide safe access. Before Sheriff Macgregor, K.C., at Falkirk Sheriff Court on Monday, the Glenboig Union Fireclay Company, firebrick manufacturers, Dykehead Works, High Bonnybridge, by Falkirk, pleaded guilty to having, on 16th November 1949, failed, as far as was reasonably practicable, to maintain safe means of access to the control switch of an electric motor driving a grog crushing machine in the millhouse at Dykehead Works. Miss Margaret Brand, H.M. Inspector of Factories, who prosecuted, said that a workman, James Sinclair, had to climb over the crushing machine, where fly-wheels, belts and pulleys were in motion, in order to reach the switch. Doing so while the machine was in motion exposed him to grave danger. Miss Brand said that the passage to the control switch was blocked with clay several feet high, and it was necessary for Sinclair to climb over the machine to reach the control switch. If the man had stumbled or lost his footing he would have been seriously injured or killed. The passage to the switch had been blocked for two or three months. Miss McFadden, solicitor, appearing for the company, said that there was an alternative way of reaching the switch without climbing over the machine, and Miss Brand said that the use of this alternative way meant a jump of five feet down on the other side. Miss McFadden said the position had now been rectified, and a safety officer had been employed. Sheriff Macgregor said that if that was so the purpose of the prosecution had been obtained. The maximum fine was one of £20 but in the circumstances, he would impose a fine of £5. He also ordered the company to pay 30s in expenses.

21/04/1951 – Falkirk Herald – A 27-years-old brickworker, Robt. Joseph Gaffney, appeared in custody before Hon. Sheriff-Substitute T. Turnbull at Falkirk Sheriff Court on Tuesday Gaffney pleaded guilty to having, on 13th April, in the pay office at Dykehead Works, High Bonnybridge, of the Glenboig Union Fireclay Company, Ltd., uttered as genuine an authorisation form, purporting to be the authorisation of James Andrew Gorey, a former employee of the company at present in custody at Falkirk, instructing the company to pay him wages due to Gorey, the signature being forged, and induced a servant of the company to give him £2 5s sd, which he appropriated to his own use. Mr R. W. Dean, Depute Procurator Fiscal, said accused was employed at the brickworks. On Wednesday last, James Andrew Gorey, a former employee at the same works, was remanded in custody when he appeared at Falkirk Sheriff Coun on a serious charge. This was known to accused, and he presented to the company an authorisation form upon which he had forged Gorey’s signature, whereby he obtained the money due to Gorey. The man in custody granted his landlady a mandatory order to uplift his wages, as the greater part of the money was due to her for lodgings. The landlady found that the money had been collected by the accused. Mr Dean concluded: It is a most contemptible offence to rob a fellow workman who is in jail.

22/08/1953 – Falkirk Herald – Boy, 15-18 required immediately for general work. Good wages and conditions. Apply to the manager Glenboig Union Fireclay Company, Ltd., Dykehead Works, High Bonnybridge.

27/02/1954 – Falkirk Herald – Thieves who gained entry to the Dykehead Works of Glenboig Union Fireclay Works, Bonnybridge, early on Thursday morning, blew open two safes with explosives, and stole £20. The safes normally contain no money, but on this occasion, two wage packets for employees who had been off sick were locked up. Mrs Robertson. Allandale, discovered the break-in when she went in to clean the offices. The safes were in different rooms and a considerable amount of damage was caused.

26/03/1955 – Falkirk Herald – Theft of coal. A 54-year-old housewife, Sarah Leishman or Gavin, 92 Broomside Road Bonnybridge, was fined £1 with the option of 10 days imprisonment at Falkirk Justice of the Peace Court on Tuesday when she admitted by letter that on 22nd February she stole 56 lbs. of coal valued at 4s from the coal bing at Dykehead Works, High Bonnybridge occupied by the Glenboig Union Fireclay Co.. Ltd.

1960  – Dykehead Mine closed.

c.1962 – Brickworks closed.

2019 – These gate pillars stand at the entrance to the Dykehead Fireclay Works. They are constructed from Dykehead bricks. The photograph is taken inside the works looking out (exit!) To the left are the trees on the overgrown Steins Milnquarter Brickworks


GR-Stein Refractories Ltd – Formed by a merger in 1970 of John G Stein & Co and General Refractories of Sheffield. GR-Stein became a subsidiary of Hepworth Ceramic Holdings Ltd General Refractories was formed in 1929. It acquired the Glenboig Union Fireclay Co in 1936, (along with other companies), which became its Scottish holding company, and Dykehead Gannister & Fireclay Co of Bonnybridge, George Turnbull & Co of Bonnybridge and Castlecary Brick & Fireclay Co, all in 1936. (see Glasgow Herald below which infers this date is 1934) GR Stein’s Manuel Brickworks in Whitecross opened in 1928 and closed on 28 December 2001 when manufacture moved to England and Poland. Source Falkirk Museum and Archives.

Kenneth W Sanderson states that General Refractories took an interest in the Dykehead Ganister and Fireclay Company in 1931 and took the whole company over in 1936. Another entry states that in 1938 a share deal was carried out and George Turnbull & Co Ltd became part of the Glenboig Union Fireclay Company which was the Scottish subsidiary of General Refractories.

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