Etna Brickworks, Bathville, Armadale, West Lothian

Etna Brickworks, Armadale, West Lothian.

Alternative brickworks include:

  • West Works, Armadale, West Lothian.

Canmore – The works are situated between Bathville Pipe Works and Atlas Brickworks (NS96NW 38). The Ordnance Survey Map (OS 25-inch, Linlithgowshire, sheet ?NX.I) showed two 10 chamber Hoffman Kilns which were also shown on the map of 1897 … The westernmost kiln was still standing in 1978 but out of use …

A Newcastle Kiln to the east of the works in 1917 was demolished after 1956…a loading conveyor and works changing room replaced it. At the south of the works, a 16 chamber Hoffman (built c.1898) was standing but out of use in 1978, and another continuous kiln, west of this, was demolished before 1956. The works had had many alterations after 1956; a stable was demolished and the drying and moulding shop which had stood between one of the Hoffman [kilns] and the Newcastle [kiln] has also been demolished. The machine, screen and mill house at the west side of the works was still used as the machine wing in 1978, but the building was probably different…There were tramways throughout the works in 1917, and still in the 1940s …but a wagon tippler situated south of the crusher house (still in use in 1978) had been demolished, and the pan mill and moulding shop (situated between the two south kilns) likewise had been demolished after 1956. In1978 the works had 4 Hoffman type chamber kilns. The newest, which stood parallel to the 26 chamber kiln, had been built to a traditional continuous design in 1964. The kiln had been converted in 1975 to allow it to be set by forklift trucks, as opposed to the traditional system of bogies carrying 167 unfired [green] bricks) drawn by Lister tractors. The bogies took the bricks from the press to the wicket doors, and the kilns were set by hand. After firing the bricks were again hand loaded onto the bogies and sent to the central loading unit.

Doors the same size as the chamber arch were opened up at each end of the new kiln. Brick packs were formed in the machine wing and transported by forklift truck through the large end doors, the kiln sections being set in four packs; two on the bottom and two on top. When the kiln was unloaded after firing, the forklift trucks lifted a bottom and a top pack at the same time (a load of 4.5 tons). It was estimated that this conversion doubled the output of the kiln; whereas previously the kiln burnt 18 chambers per week at 12 500 bricks per chamber, in 1976 it was claimed that it consistently did a full round equivalent to 28 chambers, with 16 500 bricks per chamber. The doors, in effect, turned a 28 chamber kiln into one operated on a quarter-kiln setting and drawing cycle.

In 1978, the machine wing was situated south of the 10 chamber kilns, and west of the other two. {It contained]…five Mitchell Double brick Presses and thee Pan Mills. The only Bradley and Craven machinery which had been supplied to Etna Works were a double shafted and a single shafted tandem mixer (No. 3224) which was supplied in 1954 and of which there are photographs taken by the company in the 1960s (see MS/500/57/8). And a 16 inch, non-de-aired, Auger Machine (No. 2712) which was supplied in 1946.

The works were established in the late 19th century at Armadale to work the highly refractory aluminous fireclays of the Millstone Grit series in the area and their products had, by the early 1960s, a firmly established market over a wide field at home and overseas in all the major industrial where refractories were required.

The “ETNA” brand made by UFP Ltd in the 1960s was particularly suitable for carbonizing plants, cement kilns, coke ovens, cupolas, lime kilns, mill furnaces, pottery kilns, water tube boilers…

This brand was also made at the West Works which were built in mid-1960 to take over the refractory production once carried on at both the Etna and Atlas Works.

The making of firebricks probably ceased in the 1960s sometime after the alterations mentioned above and in 1978 only composition bricks marked “UFP” were being produced.

Since 1978, the easternmost 10 chambered kiln had been converted to be set and loaded by fork-lift truck and was in use in 1981, and the area between the two 10 chamber kilns had been covered.

Scotland Places

Info – Brickmaking in Armadale.

1982 – 1893 – Jas Wood,  Etna Brickworks, Bathville, Armadale Station, Linlithgowshire; office, 28 Royal Exchange Square.

Below – 1896 – Etna Brickworks.

07/11/1896 – Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser – Glasgow Royal Infirmary – Contributors include Jas Wood Limited Etna and Atlas Brickworks, Bathville – £3 15s.

19/12/1896 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Accident at Bathville  – On Monday morning a boy named James Fisher, employed at the Etna Brickwork, belonging to Mr Wood, in some way got his foot entangled between the plates and the side plate of the travelling scree. He was dragged along for two or three yards before the machinery could be stopped. When released his foot was found to be severely lacerated. After being attended to at the work, he was, however, able to proceed to his home.

21/12/1897 – Edinburgh Evening News – Bricklayers wanted  – Etna Brickworks, Bathville, Bathgate.

22/01/1898 – Edinburgh Evening News – Bricklayers wanted  – Etna Brickworks, Bathville by Bathgate.

16/02/1898 – Glasgow Herald – Bricklayers wanted at Etna Brick Works, Armadale.

10/11/1898 – Edinburgh Evening News – Mysterious disappearance of an Armadale man – Wm. Brown, widower, employed as a kiln burner at the Etna Brickworks, Bathville, has been missing since Saturday. His wife died about six months ago, and the youngest child has been under the care of an aunt at Bellshill, to which place the father was in the habit of journeying for the purpose of visiting his child. On Saturday afternoon, having paid his usual visit, he was seen by his friends to enter the train for Coatbridge on his journey home. Since then no tidings had been heard him, although a search had been made for him. It is feared that he had taken the wrong side of the line when changing from the Central to Sunnyside Station, and fallen into the canal.

Below – 24/12/1898 – Linlithgowshire Gazette  – Theft – not guilty.

Below – 05/05/1900 – Glasgow Herald – Foreman wanted for Etna Brickworks, Armadale. Must have experience in Hoffman Kilns and brickwork machinery. Apply by letter stating experience and wages wanted to James Wood, 28 Royal Exchange Square, Glasgow.

05/10/1900 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Accident.— James Bradley, aged 13, residing with his parents at Northrigg, met with an accident while engaged at the Etna Brickworks, belonging to James Wood & Co, Ltd., on Saturday. It appears that he was engaged in chapping the sieve to allow the clay to run down into the box where it is mixed when the shirt sleeve on his right arm got into the teeth of the pinion wheel. Fortunately, the driving belt of that part of the machinery was not tight, and when he was drawn in the belt slipped off, but not before his arm had been injured. But for the belt coming off, there can be no doubt that the accident would have been very serious. The lad was attended to by Dr Anderson.

Below – 26/10/1900 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – A history of brickworks in the Bathgate, West Lothian area.

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12/04/1901 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Accident at Etna Brickworks – About seven o’clock on Tuesday night, while Edward Walker, Engineman, High Street, Bathgate, was attending to a brickmaking machine at Etna Brickworks, occupied and owned by Messrs Jas. Wood, Ltd., his right hand got caught between the press and spring box of the machine, whereby the three first fingers were severely crushed and lacerated. He was immediately removed to the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh and we understand that amputation of the three fingers was considered necessary.

26/07/1901 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – On Monday forenoon, while a young man, named George Paddel, residing in Academy Street, was engaged in the vicinity of Etna Brickwork coupling waggons, he let the pole fall and his hand slipped between the buffers two waggons end was severely injured. He was assisted to his lodgings and was attended to by Dr Anderson, who found that the right hand was broken … the pits and brickworks in the district generally resumed full time on Monday after having had the usual holidays during which many had taken advantage of visiting friends, places of interest and the exhibition …

22/01/1902 – The Scotsman (Note – SBH – I am uncertain which Armadale brickworks this article refers to but I have included it here so that it does not go unmissed!) – For sale belonging to the Executry Estate of the late Mr Marshall, Contractor. Portable engine at no 9 pit, Armadale, Bricks large quantity, Fireclay pipes large quantity and various sizes, Whinstone sets and couplings, freestone jambs, Pan Mill at New Brick Work, Armadale, Bricks (40,000 already cleaned at No 8 Pit, Freestone large quantity not including iron. The articles will be shown to enquirers Mr David Sclater, Clerk of Works, Uphall.

Below – 21/03/1902 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – An article discusses the Boghead, Bathville, Etna and Atlas Brickworks of West Lothian.

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06/06/1902 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Wanted – Contractor for Hoffman Kiln – Apply Foreman, Etna Brickworks, Armadale.

11/06/1902 – Kirkintilloch Herald – Proposed Scottish coal combine – So far as evidence goes (writes a mining correspondent) the rumour of a Scottish coal combination is not without foundation. Representatives interested in such a trust are systematically visiting, for valuation purposes, the collieries of those firms who might be disposed to consider the formation of such an amalgamation. Combine visited the collieries of Messrs Jas. Wood, Ltd., in Armadale district. The pits owned by this firm in Armadale district, of which a valuation was taken, together with the siding accommodation belonging to the firm, are follows;—No. 2 and No. 7 Northrigg, Nos. 2, 5, and 8 Polkemmot, and No. 4 Hartrigg and Colinshiels Pit, while they own Drumpellier Pit, Coatbridge; Meiklehill, Kirkintilloch: and Neilston, Kilsyth. The firm also owns, Atlas and Etna Brickworks, which have a large output.

01/07/1902 – Dundee Evening Telegraph  – The Scottish Coal Combine – Today the various collieries and brickworks belonging to Messrs James Wood Limited and the collieries belonging to the Armadale Coal Company will be formally handed over to the syndicate known as the Scottish Coal Combination. Yesterday representatives from the Glasgow office of the Combination for stock taking purposes made a survey of the whole material on hand, furnishings and coal etc, exclusive of the working colliery plant at the different collieries, along with the coal foremen. Messrs James Wood Limited own the following collieries in Armadale district: No 2, No 8, No 6 pits, Polkemmet, No 4 Hartrigg, Nos 2 and 7 Northrigg and Colinshills and also the well known Atlas and Etna brick Works. They further own Drumpelier Colliery, Coatbridge, Meiklehill, Kirkintilloch, and Neilston Colliery Kilsyth. They employ over a thousand men in Armadale district. The Armadale Coal Company own the 2 pits Nos 17 and 23 Buttness.

11/04/1904 – Edinburgh Evening News – Reference to storm damage at Etna Brickworks, the property of the United Collieries Limited. (See entry dated 15/04/1904 for more detail)

Below – 15/04/1904 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Brickwork smoke stalk destroyed by lightning. Saturday was a day of blizzards which raged all day, cold, hail, and snow storms following each other in rapid succession. In the afternoon at about 4 o’clock, the sky became darker than usual and lights had to be lit in places of business to carry on the work. The wind was raging furiously when a slight flash of lightning was noticed followed by a distant peal of thunder. At ten minutes to four, a more vivid flash lit up the whole place for a second and then there followed a deafening peal of thunder which frightened horses and sent those out of doors to seek shelter. Shortly afterwards it was learned that the lightning had struck No. 4 smoke stalk of the Etna brickworks, and had rent it from top to bottom, knocking away 30 feet from the top and leaving a large part of it in a very ragged condition. Fortunately, the works had closed for the day, otherwise lives must have been lost, as the spot where the most of bricks fell from the top of the chimney, which was 120 feet high, was swarming with workmen and women before day’s work closed. The storm was still raging on Sunday morning, when, between 10 and 11 o’clock, the wind was so strong to blow over about other 30 feet of the stalk, leaving only about the half standing. The lightning seems to have struck the top of the chimney and ran down the west outside, stripping two or three courses of bricks on its track. The great wonder is that the other chimneys, which are placed thickly around the one struck, escaped. The falling bricks caused considerable damage to the shed roof and boiler top but the damage done was much less than might have been expected. Two firemen engaged to fire the kilns were in one of the sheds near hand, sheltering themselves at the time, and were quite unaware of what had happened until they appeared outside. The wreck has caused, for a time, the double shifting of the other part of the work until the repairs are effected.

11/11/1904 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Accident at Etna Brickworks – Yesterday morning an unfortunate accident happened to a  young man, named Peter Creamar, a brickworker, residing at Thomson’s Land, by which he had an arm broken. Having had occasion to pass between two stacks of bricks, where a large crown wheel was standing perpendicular, the passage being rather narrow, Creamar was unable to pass without pressing on the wheel, which caused the wheel to fall over him, with the above result.

1905 – Operated by United Collieries Ltd.

04/12/1906 – Edinburgh Evening News – About midnight last night fire broke out in a stackyard adjoining Etna Brickworks, near Armadale, owned the United Collieries (Limited). There were in the yard 10 stacks of hay. The high wind prevailing the time soon fanned the blaze to furnace heat, and although there were many people present nothing could be done to save the hay and the stacks were reduced to ashes.

17/07/1908 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Saturday was a fatal day for of the ponies engaged to draw hutches of fireclay from No. 4 of Bathville bing to the railway siding at Etna Brickworks. The pony slipped its foot when on the scaffold, fell over, and broke a leg. The knacker did the rest.

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The holidays started at Dickson and Manns works on Wednesday and will continue till Tuesday, 28th. The Etna Brickworks are only to be closed for four days, but the Atlas is to have three weeks, and the collieries will be closed from the 16th to the 27th.

Below – 27/08/1909 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Etna and Atlas Brickworks excursion to Portobello.

12/09/1909 – Linlithgowshire Gazette  – Etna and Atlas brickworks export to Canada … there is a large order for a million bricks that is being shipped from Etna and Atlas brickworks to Canada that is taking up all the extra wagons. When this order has been discharged more waggons will be had for coal …

Below – 21/10/1910 –  Linlithgowshire Gazette – Death of Duncan Richmond former manager of the Atlas and Etna Brickworks, Bathville. He started work at the works around 1885.

Below – 25/08/1911 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Drought causes local firms to unite in order to construct a pipeline to bring in water – United Collieries, Etna and Atlas brickworks, Robertson and Loves Pipe and Can Works. Robert Muir and Co’s works at Boghead brickworks will be disadvantaged as they will not be connected to this new supply but their Armadale Barbauchlaw Works may be able to secure a supply of water from their own resources.

15/11/1912 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Bathgate town council meeting – A letter was read from the postmaster asking formal permission to erect a telephone wire from Armadale Post Office to Etna Brickworks which was granted.

Below –09/10/1914 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Etna Brickworks and Robertsons and Loves Fireclay Works, Bathville suffering the effects of WW1.

12/04/1918 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Boys leg cut off – John Wardlaw. 15 years of age, son of Mrs McCracken, East Main Street, while working at Etna Brickworks on Saturday, had the misfortune to lose his right leg. He had occasion to pass a card to one the workmen and to do so, it is reported, that he made to step over the brick making machine when his foot slipped and got into such a position on the turntable that his leg below the knee was completely severed. He was immediately conveyed to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. On Hogmanay night his step-father, John McCracken, while engaged as a kiln burner at Boghead was so severely burned that he died in the infirmary, and in addition, Mrs McCracken has another boy dangerously ill with meningitis. The greatest sympathy is felt for Mrs McCracken in her affliction.

03/06/1921 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Public works coming to a complete stand – Week after week one public work after another is compelled to shut down for want of fuel. First the Atlas Steel Foundry had to close down, then Messrs R. Muir and Co,’s brickworks, and next Messrs Robertson and Love’s fireclay pipe and can works, and lastly Messrs Dickson and Mann, Ltd., have had to close their steel foundry, and the Etna and Atlas brickworks, which were well stocked begin with, have now also had to shut down for want of coal. Messrs Dickson and Mann could probably have held out little longer as far as fuel is concerned, but the opportunity is being taken to make some desirable repairs on the furnace. They are still carrying on their engineering shops, and the United Collieries are able to carry on their machine shops and wagon building shops, being little fuel required with them. All the chimney stacks being now smokeless, the air is pure that one can’t help commenting what a blessing it would be to humanity if the air pollution by smoke could be entirely eliminated. It’s a poor misfortune that does not yield some compensation.

16/09/1921 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Peter Tearney, the man who was reported last week to have been found lying unconscious in a kiln at Etna Brickworks and taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, died without regaining consciousness, having been badly burned about the body. It was believed that he belonged to Broxburn, and inquiries were made to try and find if he had any relations there.

Below – 18/08/1922 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Armadale – Unemployment decreasing – Reference to Etna Brickworks?

Below – 18/04/1924 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Accident at Etna Brickworks. Maggie Coventry hit on the head with a brick.

Below – 1929 – Etna and Atlas Brickworks from the air.

16/10/1931 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Motor lorry causes damage. Not a little excitement was caused among the residents of Watt Avenue, Bathville Road, Armadale, early last Friday morning. Two heavy lorries belonging Messrs Russell, contractors, West Calder, emerged one from the bottom and the other from the top entrances of the Etna Brickworks and attempted to pass each other. In passing one of the lorries got out of control and careered on to the pathway, and through the iron railing bordering the houses. About 26 feet of railing was torn down, but luckily no person was injured.

16/10/1931 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Steeplejack killed – Distressing fatality at Armadale Brickworks – A distressing accident, involving the death of a steeplejack, occurred at the Etna Brickworks. Armadale, on Monday afternoon at about 1.45. The victim, George Robb, 260 Dunn St. Bridgeton, Glasgow, an employee of Messrs Cumming & Company, steeplejacks, Glasgow was repairing the top of one of the works chimneys when some of the masonry gave way, and he was hurled down a distance of 120 feet. He fell on a waggon which was standing in a siding at the foot of the stack and sustained terrible internal injuries. The skull was also fractured, besides extensive facial injuries. He was immediately rushed to Glasgow Royal Infirmary where he died shortly afterwards. The sudden and tragic nature of the unfortunate man’s death caused a gloom over the entire works and left an impression not easily forgotten.

02/12/1931 – Falkirk Herald – West Lothian Industries – Promising Revival in Brickmaking and Hosiery. A promising revival in certain industries in West Lothian is reported notably to the manufacture of bricks and hosiery.  One of the busiest places in the country at the moment is the Etna Brick Works, at Armadale, belonging to the United Collieries Ltd.  An official stated that there had been a sudden revival of trade, and they were supplying the demand as it occurred.  A few weeks ago the daily output of bricks from the works was 25,000, and last week the figure was almost 55,000.  Not only has the spurt to the industry been responsible for the employment of additional men, but it has also been found necessary to put on a night-shift.  A large number of the bricks have been sent to Glasgow for housing achievement.  This output of bricks is regarded as a really high for a brickwork in the provisional housing schemes in progress in West Lothian are being supplied.  The prospect of the brick trade is promising.  At the company’s other brickworks at Bathville, the employees are also busy …

Below – 1938 – Etna Brick Works.
1947 – Operated by United Fireclay Products Ltd.
1947 – United Fireclay Products Limited comprised of 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.  Lower demand for refractories led to the Etna Works being converted to making building bricks under the ETNA brand and the closure of the Atlas Works in 1973.  Gibbons Dudley took over the United Fireclay Products in 1971 and they were bought over by Steetley Ltd in 1981 who then sold the Etna and Brownhill Works to GISCOL Ltd.
1968 – Etna firebrick production ceased sometime in the mid to late 1960s.
1971 – United Fireclay Products Limited merged with Gibbons Dudley Ltd.
1981 – The works were taken over by Steetley Brick.
1983 – The works were taken over by Carradale aka Glasgow Iron and Steel Company Limited. (GISCOL)
1985 – Film – Etna Brickworks.
1996 – Ibstock purchases Redland Brick Ltd for £155 million, comprising of the former Redland and Steetley Brick businesses.
2008 – Compilation of stills by TeEnZiE – Etna Brickworks.
Dec 2011 – Works closed?
Below – 27/01/2012 – Photograph by John Wells – The Etna Brickworks during demolition.
Nov 2012 – Carradale Brick Company based at the Etna Works in liquidation.
Below – May 2019 – Photographs of the Etna and Atlas site.
Below – Etna wasters.
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Below – Brick buttresses which formed part of a wall that surrounded the site.
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Below – General views of the site showing a large quarry/clay pit, the old way bridge and demolished offices, concrete engine plinths and kiln structures.
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