Manuel Fireclay Mine, Whitecross, Linlithgow, Stirlingshire.

05/1923 – The shaft to source the clay at Manuel was started.

25/12/1923 – The clay is reached. This clay was high in alumina at 42% and would herald the arrival of the ‘Nettle’ brand. (Note – SBH – I believe this was a mine to establish the quality of the clay and once ascertained it was closed down).

27/02/1928 – A new mine is started.

08/1929 – The clay is reached.

05/03/1932 – Falkirk Herald – Thomas McKay, oiler, High Street, Linlithgow pled not guilty in Falkirk Sheriff Court on Monday to a charge of having on 12th February on the pithead at the Manuel Clay Mine, assaulted James Rogers, foreman engineer, Whitecross, Manuel and struck him a severe blow on the face with his fist. Evidence was led. Rogers said a belt had slipped off a pulley owing to the latter not being properly oiled. It was the accused job to see to the oiling above everything else. Witness reproached McKay about the matter and he alleged McKay immediately struck him on the face. His ear was cut as he fell. The accused admitted it was his duty to oil the machine. Rogers had called him a certain name. I always try to prove I am a better workman than Rogers makes me out to be, said McKay. The accused averred that Rogers attacked him and they both fell. Rogers then tried to kick him on two occasions. Sheriff Robertson found the charge against McKLay not proven and he was discharged.

29/07/1932 – West Lothian Courier – Whilst engaged cleaning valves at High Manuel Clay Mine on Wednesday morning, Daniel Ferguson, process worker, who resides at 10 High Street, Linlithgow, was gassed and rendered unconscious. He had to be removed to Falkirk Royal Infirmary.

23/11/1936 – The Scotsman – Falkirk man received fatal injuries while cycling to his work at a Manuel clay mine on Saturday. He was William Hamilton, clay miner. 12 Bellevue, Maddiston, near Falkirk. Hamilton was cycling eastwards on Vellore Road, Maddiston when he was seen to fall from his pedal cycle. He was picked up and conveyed to Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary, where he succumbed to his injuries. It is believed that he had sustained a fractured skull.

12/07/1946 – West Lothian Courier – Miners and drawers wanted for fire clay mining. No previous experience is necessary. Good wages and good conditions. Apply John G Stein and Company Limited, Manuel Mine near Linlithgow.

10/10/1947 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Fatal accident – Mr David Lewis, Waterside Cottage, Linlithgowshire Bridge was killed late the previous night by a fall from the roof while at work in the No 1 Manuel Heading Section of the Manuel Clay Mine belonging to Messrs J G Stein and Co Ltd. Mr Lewis had only started work there last June and had been barely a month employed in the underground workings.

12/10/1949 – Falkirk Herald – Simon Thomson, clay-miner, 49 Grange Drive, Falkirk, pleaded guilty to having, on 20th September, within the bothy at Manuel Mine, Manuel Brickworks, occupied John G. Stein & Co., Ltd., firebrick manufacturers, assaulted Alexander Ure, underground foreman, 9 Elm Drive, Westquarter, by striking him a blow on the upper lip with his fist. A fine of £l, with the alternative of ten days’ imprisonment, was imposed.

03/11/1951 – Falkirk Herald – Clay miners required. Wages for five and three-quarter days £7 13s; this can be further increased by piecework; twelve days’ paid holidays per year at 27s per day: experience not necessary: hostel accommodation available. Apply Manager, John G. Stein & Co., Ltd., Manuel Mine. Scotland.

11/12/1954 – Falkirk Herald – Hugh Kelso, a 55-year-old clay miner was trapped by a fall from the roof in the Manuel Clay Mine, Whitecross on Thursday morning. When workmen extricated him he was found to be dead. From his injuries, it is considered that death was instantaneous. As a mark of respect the other clay miners stopped work for the day. Mr Kelso was a married man with nine of a family.

11/06/1955 – Falkirk Herald – A formal verdict was also returned on the death of Walker Graham, Jnr, (23),. oncost worker, 33 Priory Road. Whitecross, who was killed by a falling stone in No. 4 Section of the Manuel Clay Mine, Whitecross, on 6th April. The deceased’s father. Walker Graham, Snr,. gave evidence that his son had left for work at about five past seven on the morning of the accident in his normal health. At about 10 o’clock, he learned that his son had been fatally injured, and he identified his body.

A workmate of Graham’s, Mieczwslaw Hasiua, 69 Grangeview Terrace, Falkirk, said he was working along with Graham while Graham was replacing props and he (Hasiua) was filling clay into a hutch. There was a large stone lying on top of the clay at which he was working. He was unable to move the stone and Graham offered to try to break it. He started breaking the stone with a large hammer. A stone came down from the roof and fell on top of Graham, pinning him to the ground. As it fell, it struck Hasiua a glancing blow, pushing him aside. The stone weighed more than half a ton. and he could nothing about moving it so immediately ran to get help. There had been no warning of a fall. A supporting prop fell to the side as the stone came down.

John Paterson Fowler, 1 Haining Terrace, Westquarter, described as an underground deputy at the mine, told the court that he had been on night duty on the night of 5th-6th April. At 5.50 a.m. on 6th April, he examined the No. 4 section of the mine before the day shift started work, and everything was in order in the section. Mr Fowler explained that these examinations are carried out at 4-hourly intervals. The roof was well supported by “trees” which were placed about 4 feet to 6 feet apart. He had made a written report to this effect at the time. The manager of the mine, James Clelland, Viewvale, Westquarter stated that Graham’s job had been to repair the supports for the roof. Asked by the agent for the employers if he had any suggestions to make prevent a recurrence of the accident, Mr Clelland replied that underground deputies had been told that in future they must be more careful in their examinations. More experienced men had been put on the job to ensure that the timbering would be kept up to standard.

02/12/1955 – West Lothian Courier – Mine workers required for Manuel Fire Clay Mine, near Linlithgow. Standard mining rate of wages which can be increased on piecework; bus fares subsidised: 14 days annual holiday, 6 days statutory holiday. Apply Mine Manager, Manuel Mine, near Linlithgow.

26/12/1958 – West Lothian Courier – Damages of £2,800 were awarded by a jury sitting with Lord Migdale in the Court of Session, on Saturday, to a Falkirk miner who injured his back in a clay mine accident more than three years ago. William Brown, 10 Murray Crescent, Maddiston, sued his former employers John G. Stein & Co Ltd, owners of the Manuel Brickworks and Clay Mine. Manuel Station, Linlithgow for £3.000. The accident happened on August 22, 1955, when Brown was employed as a chain runner in part of the mine known as Gordon’s Dook, which was on a gradient and carried a single truck haulage. While he was passing a rake of hutches to uncouple it from the haulage the last hutch became derailed and jammed him against an upright prop about a foot from the rails. He claimed that because of an obstruction caused by debris, he had to pass between the rails and the upright prop. His back was crushed and after hospital treatment, he still suffered pain, weakness and limitation of movement. He was unfit for work until 1956, and in June of last year, he stopped work again. He had not worked since. Blaming the firm for the accident he said they ought to have been aware that a free and unobstructive access was required for safety especially as hutches regularly became derailed there. They ought also to have been aware that the prop was in a dangerous position. The firm denied liability and said that he should have followed the rake at a safe distance. They claimed that there was sufficient room on either side for Brown to pass.

17/01/1964 – West Lothian Courier – Konrad Szottysek (39), clay miner, 23 Avontown Crescent, Whitecross was awarded £2680 damages by Lord Milligan in the Court of Session last Friday for back injuries he suffered in a fall of clay the Manuel Clay Mine, Whitecross on April 19, 1961. He sued the owners of the mine John G Stein & Co Ltd for £5000. Lord Milligan said in his judgement that Szottsek was working as a shot firer and hole borer. Having bored and seemed a number of holes he went to collect his drill. As he bent down a substantial section of the wall suddenly broke loose on top of him. The sides, said the judge, were not adequately supported and he was not satisfied the firm had shown that their manager took all the steps which a prudent manager should have taken to see there was adequate support.

1970 – All mines the above mines were closed.

Below – 1988 – Aerial photograph of Manuel Works. Whitecross village is situated top right.

Due to the amount of clay being removed to make the Nettle brand firebricks, the Manuel mine workings were reaching a long distance. To improve ventilation and reduce the amount of time the miners took to walk to and from the face a new shaft was sunk at Compston Farm. Later another was dug at Wallhouse.

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