Researching through the old newspapers there are several references to brickworks being located in the South Leith Links area of Edinburgh around the late 18th century. The locations are often vague and difficult to pinpoint. All such references are detailed below. It is appreciated they may not all refer to the exact same location. Indeed…
Brickwork to the East of the Figgate Burn, Portobello AKA Figgate, Friggat, Freegate, Figget and Frigate.
1763 – Portobello Advertiser dated 01/05/1896 … About the year 1763, a new settlement began to be formed the parish at the mouth of the Figgate Burn, consequent upon the finding of a valuable bed of clay, and the starting of brick and tile making on rather an extensive scale by Mr William Jameson, an eminent builder and architect of Edinburgh. Mr Jameson having purchased forty acres of the Figgate lands, which at the time were mere waste, covered for the most part with furze or whins, and commonly let to one of the Duddingston tenants for 200 merks, Scots—or £11 2s 2d sterling, began to build for himself and his workmen, and to sub-feu other parts of the ground for building purposes. The village of Brickfield or Figgate, as it was then called, grew with the progress of the various work’s until by the end of the century there was a working-class population of about 300, with a few families of the better class, who had commenced to make it a summer residence, and had built several villas among the furze covered sandhills …
Below – 25/02/1775 – Caledonian Mercury – A corn mill to be let or sold … Apply to Mr Jameson, the proprietor at the brick and tyle works. Tyle and brick of the best quality continue to be there sold, at the most reasonable prices.
28/10/1782– Caledonian Mercury – Lands and tenements at Portobello and a house in Nicolson’s Street for sale …The part of the lands of Freegate, lying in the Parish if Duddingston and the shire of Edinburgh on the south side of the high road leading from Edinburgh to Musselburgh … a house presently possessed by Allan Livingston … part of the grounds afford proper and agreeable situations for building on and might be feued out in lots to advantage and should the purchaser incline to carry on a brick and tyle work or pottery or brown pot work, the grounds afford proper clay near the surface of which brick of an excellent quality was made some years ago.
Below – 1783 – Map showing 2 brickworks in Portobello as owned by Mr Jameson (Note the 2 x red crosses)
03/04/1790 – Caledonian Mercury – At Brickfield to the east of Figget-Bridge, continue to be made and sold the following articles of the best kinds and at most reasonable prices. Common bricks, paving bricks and branders for malt kilns, flooring bricks of all kinds, pan tyles. Brown pottery ware of every sort. Flower pots. Chimney head cans of all sorts of approved use in preventing smoke. Pipes of different bores for conducting water. Also, an assortment of cream coloured or Queen’s ware. Orders from the country addressed to William Jamieson, mason in Edinburgh; to David Cruick at the manufactory or to William Christie collector of shore dues at the ferry boat frair, Leith will be punctually attended to and answered with the utmost care and expedition.
Below –06/02/1792 – Caledonian Mercury – At the brick and tyle manufactory – Adjoining the Frigate Bridge, upon the Musselburgh Road, are manufactured and sold, common brick, pan tyle, plain or glazed, and stock price; pavement brick of different dimensions, and branders for malt kilns, hot-houses, and stoves. All sorts of brown potter ware. Water pipes, of different bores, for conveying water. Chimney – head cans and flower pots of all uses, crucibles of fire clay. Orders addressed to William Jamieson, mason in Edinburgh, or Mr Chistie, Shore-Dues Office, Leith will be particularly attended to. For the accommodation of such as may have occasion to receive their good by water carriage, a small quay is lately built upon the mouth of the Frigate Burn, where vessels of a light burden may receive their goods.
Below – 12/11/1814 – Caledonian Mercury – Morton & Co, Brick and tile makers, Portobello for sale but Thomas Morton will continue to trade on his own.
12/06/1815 – Caledonian Mercury – For sale at Portobello- A desirable residence, & other property. To be Sold by public roup, within the Royal Exchange Coffeehouse, upon Wednesday the 14th day of June curt. at two o’clock afternoon. The house of Rosefield, offices, and garden, which belonged to, and were possessed by the late Mr William Jameson. That two-storey house, on the opposite side of the road, presently possessed by Mr Thomas Morton, consisting of four fire-rooms, kitchen, closets, washing-house, and other conveniences, with the plot of ground before and behind the house. The White Pottery, presently under lease to Messrs Rathbone and Yool, with the workmen’s houses, ad plot of ground betwixt and the sea, and the Flint Mill and ground betwixt it and Pipe Street. The Tile and Fire-brick Work, as presently possessed by Mr Morton. These two small commodious houses at the top of the lane leading to Ramsay Lodge, consisting of three rooms and kitchen, and other conveniences. The ground in Pipe Street and Wallace Park. For further particulars, an application may be made to John Osburn Brown, Dublin Street.