Perceton Fire Clay Works, Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire

J & M Craig, Dean, Hillhead and Perceton Fire Clay Works, Kilmarnock and Longpark Pottery, Kilmarnock.

Scottish Silica Company, Perceton Fire Brick Works, Ayr (Private Company).

Perceton Silica Brick and Cement Company Limited, Perceton.

(Note – SBH – I have created separate pages for Perceton, Dean, Hillhead and Longpark. Where information does not relate to a particular works, such as Craig’s family history,  I have added it to the Perceton page.)


Below – Source unknown – For a long time Kilmarnock was mainly celebrated for the production of bonnets, carpets and shawls, but of late years other trades have sprung up, such as engineering shops, wincey, tweed, and lace manufactories. It is also justly celebrated for the manufacture of fire bricks and other fire clay goods. This latter branch of industry, at the well-known works of Messrs. J. and M. Craig, is the subject of the present article.

The record of the enterprise of this firm might almost be said to be identical with the history of fire clay manufacture in Scotland. More than half-a-century ago – as far back as 1828 – the business was commenced at Dean Quarry, near Kilmarnock, by Mr Matthew Craig, father of the gentleman who is now the senior partner of the present firm. It was a small beginning. The entire plant consisted only of a pair of rollers for crushing the clay, one kiln for burning the bricks, and the necessary moulds, tools, &c. These gave employment to three men and two boys. At first, the motive power was communicated to the rollers from a rotary gin, but this soon had to be replaced by a steam engine with an increased plant. The operations of the firm so limited at the commencement, since then have been gradually but steadily extending and increasing, and they are now carried out on a very extensive scale indeed, in large works at Hillhead and Perceton, covering about six acres of ground and employing nearly four hundred men and boys.

When the Dean Brickwork was commenced there was then no other fire clay work in Ayrshire, and, excepting one or two near Glasgow, none in all Scotland. Now there are nearly a dozen works in Ayrshire, the same number in other parts of the West of Scotland, and about half-a-dozen works in the East country.

Fire clay manufacture at the Dean in those early days was limited to common building bricks—upon which, by the way, a duty of six shillings per thousand was then levied by the government—but by and by the clay was found to be very suitable for the production of other goods, such as compressed tiles for paving the floors of kitchens, entries, &c., troughs for cattle-feeding purposes, and salt-glazed pipes for sewers and for carrying water: to the making of which it was accordingly applied.

By this time several fire clay factories had been started in Ayrshire and various parts of Scotland, but the tact and energy of Messrs. James and Matthew Craig—who had succeeded their father—had gained the confidence of a large number of customers, and their business continuing to increase, they found it necessary, in 1861, to purchase the Hillhead Fire Clay Works, and again in 1862, to take over the Perceton Works. Largely increased means of supply were accompanied and followed by increased demand, and notwithstanding all the fluctuations of trade, the various goods made at these works have been in such constant request, that even with very large additions and improvements to the works of late, some difficulty is still felt in supplying all the orders.

Messrs. Craig have always been very prompt in discerning and opening up new branches in the manufacture of fire clay, improving the old methods of working, and in perfecting the quality of the goods turned out, and are now generally acknowledged to be at the top of the tree in the fire clay line – occupying in Scotland a position somewhat analogous to that of the Messrs. Doulton in England.

The process by which raw, worthless-looking clay, is transformed into valuable building material, or into more expensive and beautifully enamelled goods, is a very interesting one.

The fire clay is found underlying the coal in seams of from eighteen inches to three feet thick and is wrought along with the coal. At Hillhead, four pits supply the material and the fuel, which are conveyed in trucks by rail to the adjacent works. Here the clay is first submitted to the pressure of a grinding mill, and by the large iron wheels revolving on perforated plates, it is quickly reduced to a fine powder. From the grinding mill, it is raised by elevators to a “worm” which transfers it to the mixing pans, where, by the addition of water it is rendered plastic, and ready for the moulder’s benches. In the case of bricks, the clay is cast by hand in strong wooden moulds; and, if intended for common building purposes, the bricks are then dried in stoves, preparatory to being more thoroughly dried and burned in the kilns. If, however, it is intended that the bricks are to be glazed or enamelled, the process is a longer and more intricate one. After having the superfluous moisture removed in the stoves, they undergo an enormous pressure, under the pressing machine, and are then “dressed” by another machine, and after being carefully “finished” by hand, they receive a coat of the enamel in the liquid state and are then ready for the kiln. There the heat is at first applied very gradually but is steadily increased until it reaches sufficient intensity to thoroughly incorporate the glaze with the body of the clay.

When taken out of the kiln the enamelled bricks are of a brilliant white colour, and we understand they are perfectly impervious to weather, non-absorbent of chemical or other vapours and incapable of being permanently soiled or dirtied. They are admirably adapted for lining back walls, and “wells,” in buildings where the reflection of light is valuable, also for lining common stairs and closes, public baths, urinals, water-closets, passages and wards in fever and other hospitals; and generally for any purpose, where it is important to have beauty and lightness, combined with durability, non-absorption of vapours, and easiness to keep clean.

Coloured and printed enamelled bricks are produced in a variety of tints. The enamelled washing tubs, and enamelled sinks for kitchens, butler’s pantries, &c, are also moulded by hand and are very carefully finished and glazed, in the same manner as the enamelled bricks. These washing tubs and scullery sinks have a beautiful appearance; almost equal to porcelain, which, we believe, they greatly excel in strength and durability. Messrs Craig informs us they are now extensively used in houses of the better class.


J & M Craig Ltd – Kilmarnock – source Kenneth W Sanderson. An advertisement in Slater’s Directory of 1867 claims that the company was established in 1831, which would pre-date the Garnkirk Fireclay Company of Lanarkshire.  This claim is probably based on the Dean Firebrick & Tile Company which was making firebricks on the lands of the Duke of Portland, east of Kilmarnock about this time.  The Statistical Account of 1845 states that the parish of Kilmarnock was making considerable quantities of firebricks which were sold for £4 per thousand.  Hunt’s Mineral statistics of 1858 records that the brickworks produced 4,365 tons a year of firebricks, chimney cans, pipes and retorts.  The Dean area contained an excellent supply of freestone, and this quarry expanded to six acres to supply much of the stone used to build Kilmarnock, and in doing so swamped the fireclay works.  The Kilmarnock Standard of 13th April 1872 has an interesting article on Dean Quarry and states that the first regular lessee was a Mr Law of Messrs Brown & Howie and that the quarry later passed into the hands of Martin Craig, senior, who with his two sons founded J & M. Craig.

The Perceton Fireclay Works at Dreghorn were taken over by J & M. Craig in 1863. (Note – SBH – from references below this may have been nearer 1862). Previously in 1858, they were owned by the freeholder and manufacturer, P. & M. MacReady who produced firebricks, pipes and retorts amounting to 6,552 tons a year: a substantial quantity for those days.  They had agents in Glasgow, Dundee, Perth, Annan, Ayr and Ardrossan, which indicates the local nature of the business at that time.

The Hillhead Fireclay Works at Kilmarnock was taken over by Craigs in 1867 from John Gilmour & Company, who had owned it from at least 1858.  Craig now became the largest firebrick company in Scotland, surpassing the Garnkirk Company; however, they were in their turn soon to be surpassed by the Glenboig Union Fireclay company which was formed in 1882.

The expansion of Craigs continued with the establishment of the Longpark Sanitary Pottery near Hillhead.  The Muirhouse Brickworks near Irvine and the Lillieshill Fireclay Works near Dunfermline were brought into the group in 1896 when the company was incorporated as J. & M. Craig Ltd.  The capital was £50,000, of which well over half was held by James Craig and his sons.  A petition was brought before the Law Courts in June 1906 to dissolve the company as £45,000 of debentures were due for repayment.  Whilst most of the holders were agreeable to extend the term, a minority refused.  Assets were estimated at £127,427, and liabilities at £70,345, so the surplus exceeded the share capital: This led to a reconstruction of the company and J. & M. Craig (Kilmarnock) Ltd. was formed with a capital of £5,000 £1 ordinary shares and 15,647 £1 preference shares.  The company continued to trade up to 1915 but was liquidated the following year.

Below – Image of a J & M Craig sink and an interesting story with regards this particular one.

J & M Craig Kilmarnock sink


1831 – Slater’s Directory of 1867 claims that the company was established in 1831 – Kenneth W Sanderson.

1847 – Matthew Craig, Snr, dies and his sons form the company J & M Craig.

Below – 10/09/1852 – Ayrshire Perceton Colliery to let … There is a superior Fireclay (equal to Garnkirk) worked immediately in connection with the Wee Coal, for the quality of which reference is confidently made to the Brick, Chimney Cans and Retorts, now weekly produced at the works as well as to the analysis by Dr Penny of Glasgow …

01/06/1854 – Dumbarton Herald – John Robson having succeeded Mr Geo. Murray of Kirk Street to the agency of the Perceton fire clay goods, he begs to acquaint builders, contractors and all others interested in the fire clay trade, that he has taken a large and commodious store in Commerce Street (corner of Wallace Street) where he will always have on hand a large supply of all kinds and sizes of spigot and faucet glazed water pipes in general use; also all kinds of bricks, covers, chimney cans, vent linings etc. According to the chemical analysis of Perceton fire clay, it is not surpassed by any clay in the trade and much esteemed in the manufacturing of gas retorts, furnace blocks, cupola brick etc. The increasing demand is a sure proof of its popularity. J. R. begs to solicit an inspection, at the same time takes this opportunity to thank the public for their past favours to the late agent and trusts by unremitting attention to business, to merit a continuance of their favours. All orders addressed to John Robson, 24 Kinning Street, Glasgow which will be punctually attended to. 14/04/1854.

1855 – 1863 – The 1985 publication ‘A survey of Scottish brickmarks’ suggests that P. B. M. MacReady was connected in some way with the works between these times.

Below – 1856 – Perceton Fire Clay Works, Perceton, Ayrshire.

1856 perceton fire clay works dreghorn

14/08/1856 – Stonehaven Journal – Highland and Agricultural Society’s Show at Inverness – Wednesday 6th. – Among other articles on the ground in which interest was shown were … The vitrified fire clay milk coolers, water troughs and feeding troughs from the works of Mr Mure MacRedie of Perceton near Irvine. (This is believed to be J & M Craig was MacRedie a partner, the landowner or an agent perhaps).

Below – 1857 – Richard Cameron, Arch 26, Commerce Street, Glasgow GPOD Advertisement. The Perceton Fire Clay is acknowledged by high Chemical Authority to be of a decidedly excellent quality, and superior to many of the Fire Clays in use both in England and Scotland. Always on hand, Fire-Bricks of all kinds, Glazed pipes, Flue Covers, Flooring Tiles, Wall Coping, Vent linings, Chimney Cans, Cattle Troughs, Horse Mangers. Ground Fire-Clay, &e., &c. Orders are executed with the utmost despatch. Richard Cameron Agent.

08/08/1857 – Paisley Herald – Highland Agricultural Society Show –  … Awards … Section 73 – Glazed socketed pipes for sewage – Premium £1. 1. Robert Brown, Ferguslie Fire Clay Works. 2. P.B.M Macredie, Perceton, Kilmarnock commended; John Robson, Cook Street, Glasgow, commended.

1858 – Mineral Statistics of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for 1858 – Perceton, clay of coal measures. Name of freeholder – P. B. M. Macready (P. & M. MacReady?). Manufacturer – P. B. M. Macready. Manufacture – Bricks, chimney cans, pipes, retorts &c. Estimated 6,552 tons annually.

1858 – 1859Richard Cameron – Agent for the Perceton fire brickworks. Deport 95 Commerce Street, Glasgow. (Page 68).

Below – 1861 – The Perceton Fire Clay Works near Kilmarnock – Manager of Works John Armour.


Below – 1861 – Richard Cameron, 95 Commerce Street, Glasgow GPOD advertisement.

Below – 12/06/1862 – Perthshire Advertiser – Alexander Campbell is an agent in the Perth area for J & M Craig, Dean, Hillhead and Perceton, Kilmarnock.

13/06/1863 – Hereford Times – Patents – J Craig and M Craig, Kilmarnock fire clay manufacturers – Improvements in apparatus for the manufacture of clay. Dated 06/12/1862.

Below – 02/06/1865 – Elgin Courier – Advert for J & M Craig, Dean, Hillhead & Perceton Fire Clay Works (The same advert is shown again in the Elgin Courier on 29/06/1866).


04/07/1865 – Belfast News – Scotch Fireclay goods – Scottish fire clay goods. Builders, Contractors, &c., will find the largest and most varied Stock of the above Goods kept in Ireland at my Depots- Queens Quay, Belfast and 56, North Wall, Dublin.

The Goods are second to none in the market and at lowest rates, white bricks (extra finished), for Facing, Buildings, in great variety. Also, glazed sewerage pipes, with Patent or Socket Joints. Robert Brown.

Belfast Depot-Queens Quay. Dublin Depot-56 North Wall. Works Paisley N.B.- Goods can be sent to any Port in Ireland, either by Sailing Vessel or Steamer, direct from the Works. 4235
The subscribers have for sale :-Garnkirk fire brick and clay; Allan & Mann’s white building brick (the best brick manufactured); J. & M. Craig’s BRICK, 1st and 2nd qualities; Do, White and Red GLAZED TILES; Sealy’s Bridgewater Tiles and Bath brick; Staffordshire Black Brick, various shapes; Chester tiles and brick;
Architectural Pottery Company’s ornamental tiles; cements, London, Portland, Roman; Hydraulic limes, &c.; Chimney cans, Water pipes, &c., &c., &c.
W.D.Henderson & Sons. Office-14 Corporation Street. YARD-Albert Square. 4113
Below – 17/11/1866 – Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald – James Craig declines the nomination to stand for the council – fake news!

Below – 1867 – Advert J & M Craig, Dean, Hillhead & Perceton, Kilmarnock. (Apologies for the double print).

1867 j & m craig dean perceton hillhead kilmarnock

01/08/1867 – Stirling Observer – Highland and Agricultural Society’s Show, Kings Park, Glasgow – Principal exhibitors … J & M Craig, Kilmarnock, fire clay works and … J & R Howie, Kilmarnock, fire clay work.

Below – 1868 – J & M Craig, Dean, Hillhead and Perceton Fire Clay Works, Kilmarnock.

1868 - J & M Craig fire clay works advert

1868 – H Stevenson – Manager of Perceton Fire Clay Works.

1868 – H Stevenson, manager of Perceton Fire Clay Works. Page 76.

1868 – J & M Craig, Hillhead and Perceton Brickworks, Kilmarnock.

1869 – James and Matthew Craig, Brick and Tile makers, Lothian Road Edinburgh. Agent – Duncan Dochard.

1869 – J. & M. Craig Manufacturers of fire & enamelled bricks, sewerage pipes,& all kinds of sanitary & plumbers’ earthenware; works, Hillhead & Perceton Fire Clay Works, & Longpark Pottery, Kilmarnock—Alexander Murray, 98 Commerce St. S S, agent.

30/04/1870 – Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald – Ayrshire Agricultural Show – Stand no 22 – Messrs J & M Craig, Dean, Hillhead and Perceton fire clay factories, Kilmarnock. Judges awarded a medal for a collection of cattle troughs, horse mangers, milk coolers, sheep dipping trough and a collection of statuary, flower vases etc.

1872 – Hugh Finlay, Manager, Hillhead Brick Works, House 78 Hill Street, Kilmarnock.

1872 John Boyle – Foreman, Hillhead Fire Clay Works, Kilmarnock. House Henrietta Street.

1872 – J & M Craig, Coalmasters and Fire Clay Manufacturers, Dean, Hillhead and Perceton Fire Clay Works and Hillhead Colliery. Office Hillhead.

1872 – William Kerr, Clerk, Hillhead Fire Clay Works.

1872 – H Stevenson, Manager, Perceton Fire Clay Works, Kilmarnock.

Below – 24/02/1872 – Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald – Death of Matthew Craig – Our obituary of today contains the death of a gentleman about whom more than a mere passing word of notice deserves to be said. Bailie Matthew Craig died on Sunday morning at his residence, Deanhill, after an illness of nearly three months. It is no exaggeration to say that the death of no public man here has created for some time past such a deep impression as that of Mr Craig; just as no illness of any of our public men excited such profound sympathy and called forth such general regret. The change from a life of extraordinary activity and usefulness to utter prostration and ultimate death was so sudden, so striking, and so complete, that it almost required an effort to realise it. Indeed, among not a few of his friends, the full realisation of his death has not yet come. Had the deceased been of full rile years, and ready in the ordinary course of nature to be “gathered unto his Fathers,” his death would not have been at all wonderful. But cut down in the prime of life, in the midst of a career of much past prosperity, of much hopeful future prosperity, and of large desires for usefulness and good-doing, his death is indeed mysterious. Dark and inscrutable often are the ways of Providence; and yet, doubtless, could we see and understand them all, they are infinitely wise and infinitely kind. The deceased was the youngest of a large family of sons and daughters of the late Mr Matthew Craig, a name inalienably interwoven with the “Dean Quarry.” He was born at the Dean on April 2nd, 1828, and consequently had not completed his 44th year. The days of his years were actually few in the comparison with those of many, and yet, by his indomitable energy and ceaseless activity, he managed to compress in them about as much work as many active men do in twice the time. His youth was passed amid the quiet beauties of the Dean—his education having been obtained from Mr William Osborne, then in the full swing of his popularity. We often heard the deceased speak of his old teacher, and always in terms of the highest praise. He attributed not a little of his after exactitude and cleverness, in two essentials of commercial life, to the training he received from Mr Osborne. In December 1847, his father died. His brother James and himself then entered into a partnership, under the name of J. & M. Craig, a firm we are free to say well known in the three kingdoms in connection with fire clay manufactures of all kinds. For some five or six years before his death old Mr Craig had turned his attention to the making of fire-clay bricks from the fine seam which was in the quarry – seams we should rather say -for there was one in the upper strata of the quarry as well as in one below and in connection with the coal. We well remember the small, unpretentious beginning of the Dean, Hillhead and Perceton Works. It was situated in the bottom of the quarry, and employed if we remember aright only one brickmaker. Mr Craig, Snr, was not very successful in his new undertaking. The good qualities of fire bricks were not then well understood, and the almost infinite uses to which the clay could be turned were all but unknown. The result was that stock accumulated, and the new article could hardly find a market. Still, it was a commencement of a new branch of manufacture and is worthy of being noticed if for nought else than this, that, in so far as we know, it was the first fire-clay work in the West of Scotland. After the young men got the works new energy was infused into them. Both, and the deceased especially, had the wit and the business perception to see that there were great capabilities in the fire-clay trade. They entered heartily, therefore, into all the known and suggested improvements of brick-making. They took the tide at the turn – with what result their present works can tell. To brick making, they added that of piping, then of agricultural articles, troughs, garden copings, and other things. The demand grew, the quality was unexceptionable, which increased the demand, and the Dean Works became well known. As an instance of the perseverance and determination shown by the firm, we may mention that they were among the first, if not the first, to use the machine whereby the bricks were made from the dry clay; and further, that by untiring effort and experiment, they found out the mode of giving the extra articles made a fine glazing, which materially contributed to the introduction of several articles now common in a farmyard. So largely did their business increase that they were anxious to find another place where they could extend their works. In 1861 an opportunity offered by Hillhead works being in the market. They were quick to take advantage of it, and in that year it passed into their hands. Many changes and many improvements have been wrought on this during the past eleven years – all tending to the extension and consolidation of a growing trade. In the following year, 1862, they acquired Perceton Fire Clay Works. Each Acquisition seemed only a means of developing what was a comparatively new trade. One thing was added to another in the fire-clay work till now one of the pricelist books of the firm, with its accompanying engravings, is a treat to look at and examine. It is not merely bricks, nor piping, nor floor tiling, nor coping, nor cattle troughs, nor chimney cans, nor retorts, nor vases, nor rustic seats that are made of clay, but works of art, as fountains, statues, and casts of animals which are turned out by the firm. Of late, they introduced the manufacture of enamelled bricks of all colours. They found the fire-clay trade a babe in swaddling clothes, they have made a giant in the comparison with powers of further and future development in it. In 1869 the firm acquired the Hillhead Coalfield, and also, if we mistake not, the Perceton one, and thus became coal masters as well as fire-clay workers. It is no disparagement to the surviving partner of the firm who ably contributed his share to its progress and prosperity, to say that the deceased was the life of all the extensions, expansions, and developments which have been manifest in it for the last score of years. Few men had greater business capacities than Mr M. Craig. He had an almost intuitive perception of what should be done, what particular course should be pursued; and his intuitions rarely failed him. He could at once grasp the principles and comprehend the details of anything that came before him in a business point of view. He had, besides an indomitable will, going straight to the ends he had in view—after he had decided —and not as a rule to be turned to the one side or the other. In acidities to time, he had a great amount of working power in him, which enabled him to overtake and accomplish business when many would have left it awanting or deficient. Perhaps at no period of his life were all his abilities and capabilities more fully unfolded, more in active operation, and more successful than during the last two years, when he superintended the formation of the Lonsdale Iron Works Company at Whitehaven. Only those conversant with the matter know this in its entirety. Bailie Craig for some years past took a lively interest in the public affairs of Kilmarnock and carried with him to the Council not a little of his business habits and predilections. It was his wish to facilitate business at the Board, to place matters on a better footing generally, and to promote the prosperity of the town that induced him to propose the amalgamation of the Council and Commission Boards. He took that step only after careful consideration—and not, as some have supposed, out of mere whim. The result of the agitation was, as all know, the new corporation with its duties, its responsibilities, and its privileges. Though much engaged otherwise, he consented to stand for his own ward, was returned at the head of the poll, and cordially chosen second Bailie. Had he lived and continued in the Council, the likelihood is that he would have been Provost. It is rather striking to think that he sat on the Bench only once in his official capacity. In so far as this part of his public life is concerned, we have reason to know that in all his sayings and doings he had a single eye to the welfare of the town and acted solely and entirely by and for himself. He had a strong desire that some public recognition should have been made of the important services rendered by a gentleman who had long been in the Council, and whom ill-health compelled to withdraw from the new Corporation. We know that it was his intention, just before his illness, to consult with the Provost on the best way to get this done. He would either have taken the initiative at the Council Board or have seconded the proposal. It was a matter that lay deep at his heart, and would, had he been spared, been assuredly carried out. In his private capacity, the deceased was a man to be esteemed, beloved. He had a warm, tender, and affectionate disposition. Beneath a manner that was at times almost abrupt, stern, there beat a heart that was in unison with the true, the pure, the good, and the loving. The deeper sterling qualities of his nature and character had their foundation in a clear perception of the loving relations that existed between himself and his Father in heaven. They were purified and enlarged by this, and had their natural outcome in goodwill to man and perfect faith in Him who was his all and in all. Thoroughly open in all his sayings and doings, he had an utter abhorrence of all sham and hypocrisy; yet he was tender and forbearing to the erring, and tolerant with those who differed in opinion from him. He could bear and forbear—a thing harder to do than many imagine. His hand and his purse were always open to givings for useful and philanthropic purposes. The more he had, the more he gave—yet never ostentatiously; always taking good heed that his right hand did not know what his left did. As the steward of his Father, he used the wealth he acquired for Him and his, knowing and feeling that it was entrusted to him to be so employed. A sincere friend, a loving father, a wise and faithful counsellor to those who sought his advice, a sterlingly upright and honest man in his relations between man and man; singularly retired and reticent in many respects, contented and happy in all his ways, and wishful that others should be so; careful of the interest’s of his workmen, and anxious for their welfare; he strove to fulfil the many and varied duties that lay on him. Above all, a devout man and real Christian, adorning the doctrine he most surely believed by a consistent walk and conversation; held in esteem by the brethren in the church of which he was a support and an ornament; he lived beloved and died regretted. His long and trying illness was truly borne with Christian patience and resignation and evidenced the hope and love that dwelt within him. Having done the work allotted him here, his spirit, on the calm blessed morning of the day of earthly rest, took its flight to the great hereafter, to mingle with those who had gone before, and with them work in other and more delightful labours till the end of all things come. The writer of this imperfect sketch of the deceased never felt more forcibly the import of the injunction ” Set thine house in order, for thou shalt surely die,” than in the presence of the death of one whom he had for years known and esteemed; with whom he had in many ways come into close personal contact, and always with good results, and who to all human appearance was likely to outlive him. As the strong, deep-rooted oak is suddenly upturned by the dire whirlwind, to the amazement of the onlooker, so does one feel in the unexpected death of such a man as the late Bailie Craig. His death, we are certain, leaves a gap in public and private life not soon to be filled up.

Funeral of Bailie Craig  – On Thursday the remains of this gentleman were interred in St. Andrew’s Church burying ground. The funeral was to some extent strictly private. There were the members of the family and near relations, the Provost, Magistrates, Town Clerk, Treasurer, and Dean of Guild; one or two personal friends of the deceased in a church and business relation. The service was conducted by the Rev. Mr Bathgate, Winton Place E. U. Church. While the cortege proceeded there were many onlookers, among whom were not a few of the workmen – the works being closed. There was a sad, mournful expression on all, showing how general was the sorrow for the death of Mr Craig.

17/05/1872 – Belfast News – Fire bricks, pipes, tiles – we are now discharging a cargo of the celebrated Garnkirk fire bricks, blocks and clay; also glazed sewer pipes, chimney cans, white and glazed tiles, wall coping, troughs, jaw boxes etc from J & M Craig, Kilmarnock. Slates, cement, alabaster, flagging etc in stock, all at low prices. W.D Henderson & Sons, 12 Victoria Street, Belfast.

01/10/1874 – The Scotsman – The Sanitary and Educational Exhibition – Leeds – … passing to the other end of the hall, we notice Messrs Craig’s collection of white enamelled bricks, now so extensively used in back gables to aid in the reflection of light. They also show a large array of terracotta vases for outdoor decoration, white and yellow fire clay, enamelled washing tubs and sinks etc. Next come specimens of building bricks made, without burning, from a waste which is to be had in great abundance in chemical, iron and other works. These bricks can be manufactured at much less cost than those of ordinary clay and the specimens shown certainly present a substantial appearance …

Below – 1875 – Advert J & M Craig, Hillhead Fire Clay Works, Kilmarnock.

1875 advert J and M Craig, Hillhead Works, Kilmarnock

01/05/1875 – Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald – Ayrshire Agricultural Association’s great show at Ayr – J & M Craig, Fireclay Works, Kilmarnock, bronze medal for collection.

06/11/1875 – Kilmarnock Standard – Presentation. On Saturday last a deputation of the workmen employed at Hillhead and Perceton Brickworks and Perceton Colliery (Messr’s J. & M. Craig’s) met in Bakers Arms new hall for the purpose of presenting Mr David Pinkerton, clerk, with a testimonial of their respect on the occasion of his removing to fill a similar position in Glasgow. The chair was ably filled by Mr Stevenson, manager with Mr Baird acting as croupier. Mr Armour in making the presentation referred to the many qualifications of Mr Pinkerton who, by his quiet, unobtrusive and obliging disposition had won himself the confidence of his employers and the respect of the workmen. Mr Pinkerton feelingly replied after which a very enjoyable evening was spent. The testimonial consisted of a watch and gold Albert bearing the following inscription – Presented to Mr David Pinkerton, clerk, Hillhead on the occasion of his leaving Kilmarnock by the workmen in the employment of J. & M. Craig as a token of respect, 30th October 1875.

1878 – J. & M. Craig 98 Commerce Street, Tradeston, Glasgow. Murray & Stewart agents.

Below – 1878 – Advert – J & M Craig Hillhead and Perceton, Kilmarnock.

J & M Craig Hillhead Perceton Kilmarnock advert

Below – 26/09/1878 – Londonderry Sentinel – Alexander McElwee, Londonderry advertising the impending arrival of J & M Craig goods including cattle troughs.

14/08/1880 – The Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald – The Industries of Kilmarnock – Messrs J & M Craig’s Fire Clay Works – Since the time when the Israelite’s were compelled to make bricks without straw by their hard taskmasters, the making of bricks has continued to be a very primitive looking business.  Within recent years some attempts have been made to supersede the common-mode by machinery, but they have failed both in point of quality and economy and bricks continue in most places to be made by hand.  In other respects, however, fire-clay manufactures have greatly improved, and innumerable useful and artistic objects are produced from common clay.  The beautiful figured vases, for instance, which adorn our public park, and are invariably to be found in every flower garden, are a slight indication of the useful and beautiful articles that are made; and we are credibly informed that in the matter of kitchen sinks, troughs, &c., the enamelled fireclay manufactures are rapidly pushing the cast iron articles out of the market.  That is only one example of the direction in which this industry is moving.  There are over 100 fire-clay manufactories in Scotland, and that of Messrs Craig including their works at Hillhead and Perceton is perhaps one of the largest.  The Hillhead work alone covers between four and five acres of ground.  It will be within the knowledge of our readers that at the beginning of the century, the father of Messrs Craig was quarry master at the Dean to the Duke of Portland.  It was here, it may be said, that the present firm took its rise.  In the year 1828, Mr Craig first began to make bricks, and from that date up to the time when Messrs Craig bought the Hillhead and Perceton Works, the business of brick-making was carried on at the Dean Quarry.  About 19 years ago, when they acquired those Works, there was nothing manufactured but common bricks and tiles, but under the new impulse received from them, the more artistic branches of the trade began to be cultivated.  At Hillhead all the enamelled brick work is manufactured; but the vases and other artistic works are made at Perceton, the clay their being of a more suitable nature for such articles.  The principal articles manufactured at Hillhead, besides the common bricks and tiles, are chimney cans, garden edging, sewer traps, pickling pots, cattle troughs, and white enamelled bricks, sinks, edgings for gardens, &c., the largest of all being gas work retorts.  They also occasionally manufacture full-length human and animal figures.  The firm does an increasing business in the white enamelled sinks; while the enamelled edging is coming into general use everywhere its effect amid flowers and shrubs being alike refreshing and artistic, as is shown in the new cemetery.  The clay used in the Hillhead is wrought out of pits in the same manner as coal.  The various pits around the works have a clay, as well as a coal seam, the former being found under the latter; and there is a line of rails connecting the pits and the brick-work, besides a junction with the mainline of the Glasgow and South-western Railway.  When the clay comes from the pit it is a hard, dry substance, having not the slightest cohesion.  It is finely ground into fine dust in a powerful mill, consisting of two large iron rollers travelling around a circular trough.  This mill is enclosed in a large building and is connected with an ingenious set of machinery by which the clay dust, when sufficiently ground, passes through a sieve, and the refuse, or the part that requires to be re-ground, is thrown back into the mill, into which water is run, until the clay is wrought up to the requisite softness and cohesion, after which it is ready for use.  Bricks are very simply made, one man being able to make 3000 or 4000 a day on piece-work.  The moulder stands at a table, on one end of which is heaped up a load of clay.  Before him, he has the mould, in shape like a hollow box with the ends knocked out.  The mould is wet, and the man takes a piece of clay and presses it with his hands, and then removes the superfluous clay by drawing a smooth piece of wood over the mould.  A boy immediately lifts the mould away, having already placed another mould on the table ready for use.  In this manner, the work goes on very rapidly, one man generally requiring the two boys to lift the bricks and place them on the floor.  The pipes, again, are made by the clay being pressed down through an iron die by a steam revolving shaft.  The pipes are cut off, by a self-acting knife in lengths of three feet, and are manufactured at the rate of 150 an hour.  The flanges are formed separately in stucco moulds and attached to each of the pipes.  The rooms in which these are manufactured are all laid below with steam pipes, and the bricks lie there for a short time until they are ready to be placed in the kiln.  The floor bricks and those that have to be examined, pass through a pressing machine, equal to a weight of six tons, before passing into the kiln.  There are altogether twelve kilns in the Hillhead Brickworks, and the bricks or other articles are so placed in these that the heat passes between each.  Each kiln will hold perhaps about 10,000 bricks, and they remain in for twelve days.  The other description of work we saw going on were equally simple, although requiring some little practice to perform.  The four sides of the troughs, for instance, are moulded separately, and then placed together within perhaps a couple of inches of each other at the corners.  The moulder then takes a piece of clay and fills them in at the corners, solders them together as it were; and in the course of half-an-hour the moulds can be taken off, and they are enamelled inside, and afterwards sent to the kiln.  All this class of work is cast in stucco moulds.  As we have said, the most of the fancy work is manufactured in Perceton, and as what is called terra cotta is coming greatly into fashion for architectural facings, &., there is little doubt that in this line the trade has a progressive future.

Below – 18/08/1880 – Headed notepaper – J & M Craig, Dean, Hillhead and Perceton fire clay factories. Details some business transactions and a price list for Buchan’s patent pipes.


Below – 31/08/1880 – Banffshire Journal – J & M Craig advertise their Potts patent Edinburgh air chambered sewer trap and Buchan’s patent ventilating drain trap.

09/07/1881 – Irvine Times – Excursions. Claiming right-of-way through the “Ancient and Royal ” on Saturday last, being the first Saturday of July, were numerous, amongst them being a cavalcade of brakes from the brickwork districts of Messrs J. and M. Craig, at Perceton, and Messrs Findlay and Finnie, at Bourtreehill, both in the parish of Dreghorn.

Below – 1882 – Advert J & M Craig, Hillhead and Perceton Fire Clay Works, Kilmarnock.

Below – 1883 – Architects and Contractors handbook

Buchan’s Patent Improved Drain Pipes.

J. & M. Craig, Kilmarnock. These pipes are moulded with a block or seat at the faucet end, which allows room for making the joint properly, and prevents the pipes from rolling, and the joints being broken before they are set. Access pipes are made with openings 18 in. long, which readily allow the admission of a rod or scraper, and facilitate the examination of the drains. The movable cover may be secured with mortar or cement.

Buchan’s Patent Ventilating Sewage Gas Trap.

A stoneware syphon trap with a vertical dip, and of a form that will quicken the passage of soil into the sewer. A provision is made on the house side of the trap for the admission of fresh air into the drains and on the other side of the trap, a means of clearing put the trap if required, or for ventilating purposes.

Buchans drain traps. J & M Craig

Below – 13/08/1883 – Aberdeen Press and Journal – Buchan’s Patent infringements by Hurlford Fireclay Works and Caledonia Fireclay Works.

14/06/1884 – Kilmarnock Standard – One of the reasons why Kilmarnock has not felt the depression of trade so severely as some other places, is the variety of the trades carried on in the town. Our working people do not depend entirely on one branch of manufacture, so that though there should be a collapse, greater or less, in one branch, others may have full employment. The practical extinction of the once extensive calico-printing industry was more than made up for by the development of the iron trades, and the growth of the wincey and tweed manufactures has gone far to fill the blank caused by the decline of carpet weaving. It is gratifying to notice the introduction of a new branch of industry in any direction, but more so when it points to the increased business capacity of a firm that has already acquired considerable fame in another direction, to some extent akin to the new undertaking. Within the last few weeks the Messrs. J. and M. Craig, Hillhead Works, have inaugurated the pottery trade, or manufacture of white earthenware goods of various kinds and qualities. The other branches of their Fire Clay Works have been enormously extended of late, and now by their enterprise and foresight, they have introduced a new branch of clay manufacture, and one which we hope will prove the nucleus of a business equally extensive with that hitherto so ably carried on. This week we had the pleasure of a visit to the new works, and by the kindness of Mr Taylor, the energetic manager, and Mr McLauchlan, the foreman of this branch, were initiated into some of the mysteries of the pottery manufacture.

The new works are situated to the east of the Fire Clay Works and are in the form of a parallelogram, 130ft. by 120ft., the workshops and warehouses lying on the east and west sides, with a central roadway between. The raw material, which consists of ball clay, Cornwall stone, China clay, and flint, is brought from the South of England by sea and rail, and we understand Messrs. Craig have such facilities for carriage that they will be able to compete favourably with Staffordshire (the great seat of the pottery trade), as well as with Glasgow and Ireland. They have also been able to secure the services of a competent foreman, and workmen from Staffordshire; Belleek, Ireland; and Glasgow so that there is every guarantee of the quality of their goods.

The clay and other materials are first carried to the “slip house,” and there ground into a very fine powdery paste by means of a revolving granite stone. It is then conveyed into separate tanks, run into a large vat, and mixed in a liquid state in the proportions necessary for the quality of the goods. These are called “Blunging pans.” The mixed clays are then passed through a fine sieve, by means of machinery, and taken up by force pumps into the “clay press,” which is strongly bound and screwed to sustain a pressure of 901bs. to the square inch, and which contains thirty leaves or cells. The mixture is here passed through strong cotton cloth made especially for the purpose. The water is thus runoff and the clay collected in bags containing about l cwt. each, or about one-and-a-half tons in all. This can be charged and emptied three times daily. In this state, it is like ribbed webs two feet wide and an inch thick. These are put in the ” pug mill,” where the clay is cut by knives placed like a steamer’s screw, and the purpose is to drive out the air, make it uniform in consistency, and quite solid. This operation is done twice, and the clay is then ready for manufacture.

We now turn to the modelling shop, where the moulds of stucco are fashioned. This is, of course, a critical operation, for on the quality of the mould will depend to a large extent the beauty of the article as to shape. From the modelling shop, we go to the making shop, where all the different articles are fashioned. We saw the whole process in the manufacture of an ewer of antique shape. The bottom of the ewer is first made; then the body in two parts, a gauge giving it uniform thickness; when the two parts have been brought together the inside is smoothed with a fine sponge, wet, and then run over with a piece of India-rubber sheet, the jug revolving on a pivot. The bottom is then put on and a strong strap drawn down on the outside of the whole. In this condition, it is placed on a shelf for about a couple of hours until it is ready for the drying stove. The handle is made separately and attached. The heating stove is in the centre of the premises and entered from both sides of the working section of the room. It is heated by exhaust steam passing through a series of pipes, to the extent of about 100 degrees, according to the quality of the goods, and the same test is applicable to the time the articles remain in it. Here, as elsewhere, they require to be tenderly handled, as they are easily soiled or damaged. This shop is 60 feet by 37. On leaving the drying shop the articles are taken to the other side of the parallelogram and put first into the “biscuit kiln.” Each article is placed in a “seggar,” which is made of fire-clay, and the seggars are piled in tiers or bings 25 in height and numbering in all 1,250. When the oven is filled the aperture is closed by means of fire-clay, and the fires lighted. Here they remain in “white” heat for about fifty hours. Small openings are left to show when the material is sufficiently burned. When properly “biscuited,” the goods are warehoused, examined piece by piece, and all defective ones laid aside. They are then taken to the dipping house, in which each is immersed in the glazing vat, after which they are carried to the “glost” or glazing kiln, where they are put in “seggars” arranged in tiers as in the biscuit kiln, and allowed to burn for about eighteen hours. It takes from thirty to forty hours to cool this kiln and clear the goods. They are then taken to the “glost” warehouse, where they are examined, as in the biscuit warehouse, and all defective pieces laid aside. The goods are now ready to be warehoused as stock, or packed in crates, placed in wagons in the lye that has been carried to the side of the new works, and sent thence to their destination. It will thus be seen that the raw material enters one end of the parallelogram and comes out at the other end, a finished product.

All that we have described applies to the purely white earthenware. When the goods have to be gilded, marbled, or enfigured, they are taken upstairs to a separate branch of the establishment. To be marbled the pattern is first put on a piece of tissue paper from a copperplate impression, and then transferred to the article by rubbing. The pattern adheres to the dish, and the superfluous stuff is washed off. The decorations by painting are done by the hand, and so is the gilding, the articles being placed on a revolving stand. We much admired the steadiness and dexterity with which this artistic work was done by the lady employed in its execution. Only practice could produce such fine work. All the decorated goods are taken to a small kiln, where heat is applied for six to eight hours, according to the class of goods. They are then put in sets, ready for the market.

The whole of the machinery in the works is moved by a very handsome horizontal engine of fully 20-horse power, made by Messrs. Grant, Ritchie, and Co. The engine has a patent governor, exceedingly sensitive, and we believe the only one of the kind in town. Close to the engine is the house where the glaze is made, but as the process is generally deemed a secret we did not inquire into it. It is not our intention to give a list of all the articles made in the works. Suffice it that the chief are, cabinet stands for house and ship use in white, marble, or gold; water-closet basins; plugs; toilet ware of a great variety of shapes and patterns in white, printed, enamelled, and gilt. There are also jugs of diverse patterns, many of them of antique design; cheese covers, jelly shapes, and others—all of them, in so far as our unpractised eye could judge, of fine finish and quality. Among the specialities are two articles which may be particularly mentioned, as Messrs. Craig are the only parties who have the right to make them—a right acquired from the patentee. One of them is called “Armstrong’s patent self-flushing urinal.” The water rises to a certain height in the small basin, and when that is reached an automatic flush takes place and carries off the contents. The basin fills again and the same process is repeated with the utmost regularity. The urinal being also trapped, no bad smells come from the drain. The other article is termed “Shields’ patent flush-out closet and trap combined.” It would need a diagram to describe the construction of this article. Suffice it that, as in the other, there is always from one to two inches of water in the pan, so that it is kept always clean. In both of these, the useful and the handsome have been well combined, and a considerable demand is expected for them.

We could not leave the works without wishing the Messrs. Craig every manner of success in their new undertaking. It is but the germ of what we trust will ultimately develop into an extensive and profitable branch of industry, giving employment to hundreds, enlarging the trade of the town, and yielding that profitable return which is expected and desired. If business tact, upright dealing, energy, and determination, coupled with a due regard to the rights and comforts of those in their employ, should command success, then the new branch of local industry set on foot by Messrs. J. and M. Craig will ere long be a flourishing one.

01/10/1884 – Freemans Journal – The Sanitary Congress and Exhibition Dublin.

Medals and starred certificates.

J & M Craig, Kilmarnock – for white enamelled fire clayware for sinks.


J & M Craig, Kilmarnock – For Buchans disconnecting trap.

Deferred exhibits:

J & M Craig, Kilmarnock – Washing tub.

J & M Craig, Kilmarnock – Shields flush out w/c.

J & M Craig, Kilmarnock – White enamelled fire clay laundry trough.

Below – 08/05/1885 – Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald – J & M Craig, Longpark Pottery, Kilmarnock advert.

1886 – John E Calver, brickmaker, (J & M Craig), 23 Hill Street, Kilmarnock.

1886 – J. & M Craig, manufacturers of fire bricks, paving tiles, vitrified pipes, cattle troughs, chimney cans, flower vases, and other fire clay goods, also all kinds of sanitary & plumbers earthenware, Hillhead & Perceton Fire Clay Works, Longpark Pottery & Hillhead Colliery. (Page 235).

1886 – James Craig Esq, J.P, – Fire brick manufacturer, (J&M Craig), Deans Mount, London Road, Kilmarnock. 

James Craig – Fire brick manufacturer, (J&M Craig), Cessnock Bank, Dundonald Rd, Kilmarnock. (Page 235).

28/05/1886 – Ayr Observer – International Exhibition, Edinburgh … The most numerous c.ass of exhibits is that of fire clay and pottery work, exhibited by Messrs J. & M. Craig, the Bourtreehill Fire Clay Company, Messrs J. & R. Howie. In this class of goods, the first-mentioned firm are strong exhibitors. They have (court 6, No.827) a very large stand of fireclay and enamelled goods from their works at Hillhead and Perceton, and of sanitary pottery &c., from Longpark. Of enamelled work, they have an extensive collection, for sewerage and other sanitary purposes. In white earthenware, sanitary pottery, and also in some terracotta busts, notably of Sir Walter Scott, they are conspicuous. Ranking next to them in fire clay work for sanitary uses is the Bourtreehill Fire Clay Company, which exhibits among other appliances, Miller’s patent drain traps, Cowan & Miller’s patent grease traps and Arnistrong’s patent inspection junctions for drain pipes, the last of a which is exceedingly ingenious in contrivance and will probably be of great use for sewerage. The Edinburgh agents of the Bourtreehill Fire Clay Company, Messrs William Clunes & Co, Leith Walk, Edinburgh, show some beautiful work in Scotch and Irish marble, consisting of three chimneypieces and a floor of marble mosaic. The central chimneypiece is made of Blanc. P. marble, with its columns, panels and other enrichments in Glen Tilt and other Scotch marbles of various colours. That on the left hand is of Galway black marble with panels in Portsoy serpentine. The principal feature, however, is the marble mosaic floor, laid out in beautiful patterns of white, grey and black marble and entirely composed of Scotch material taken from quarries in the counties of Argyll, Inverness, Banff and Perth. In all four exhibits, the different colours of the marble have been most tastefully arranged, the predominant ones being black and different shades of grey. An important feature is that, with the exception of the Galway, the Sienna and the Blanc P. marble, the whole of the material used is Scotch. Messrs J. & R. Howie, Hurlford Fire Clay Works, Kilmarnock have two stands of enamelled work and fireclay sanitary appliances, one of them being outside in the grounds. Among other useful exhibits of theirs are their well known ventilating traps which are used in Balmoral and elsewhere …

29/05/1886 – Irvine Herald – Ayrshire Exhibitors at the International Exhibition … J. & R. Howie, Hurlford Fireclay Works, Kilmarnock, show at their stand white enamelled baths, sinks, washtubs and milk coolers, together with enamelled ventilating sanitary traps, horse mangers, cattle troughs, patent filters, and several kinds of bricks manufactured at their works. Perhaps the largest collection in this section is that of M & J. Craig, Hillhead and Perceton Fireclay Works, and Longpark Sanitary Pottery, Kilmarnock, whose exhibits are of the most miscellaneous description. The greater part of them have more or less connection with the subject of sanitation, but besides these are many other useful and ornamental articles which have been turned out from the fire-clay works and pottery of the Kilmarnock firm The Glenfield Company, Kilmarnock, in addition to sewerage fittings have on view a very fine collection of water work fittings. The Bourtreehill Coal Company, Dreghorn, Ayrshire, show enamelled fireclay goods and several patent drain traps …

28/07/1886 – Glasgow Herald – International Exhibition Edinburgh – Messrs J and M Craig, Kilmarnock, have a large display of fireclay goods suitable for various sanitary purposes, and many of them have obtained awards at other exhibitions. The most important articles are the Buchan traps and drain pipes, which are intended to, and in the opinion of many professional men, they really do, meet the requirements of sanitary science in its relation to the drainage of houses. Among the other goods shown by the firm are enamel sinks, bricks, closets, &c, besides toilet ware, jugs, &c

26/10/1886 – Edinburgh Evening News – International Exhibition – J & M Craig, Kilmarnock – Gold medal – Whole exhibit of fireclay goods especially Dunfermline ornamental ware.

J & M Craig, Kilmarnock – silver medal – drain pipes as laid and tested.

J & M Craig, Kilmarnock – bronze medal – Buchans Eclipse WC.

Below – 1886 – 1887 – J & M Craig, Kilmarnock advert.

Awarded the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the International Health Exhibition 1884 for exhibits comprising Buchan’s patent drain traps, Craig’s white enamelled fire clay sinks and washing tubs, Buchan’s Patent grease traps, access pipes etc

J & M. Craig, Fire clay manufacturers, coal masters and sanitary potters – Hillhead Fire Clay Works, Perceton Fire Clay Works, Longpark Sanitary Pottery and Perceton Collieries, Kilmarnock, N.B and Lilliehill Fire Clay Works, Dunfermline.

Sole Makers of

Buchan’s Patent Ventilating and Disconnecting Drain Traps,

Buchan’s Patent Grease Traps,

Buchan’s Patent Drain Pipes and Access Pipes,

Maguire’s Patent Safety-Joint Drain Pipes.

Sole Makers for Scotland and Ireland of Potts’ Patent Edinburgh Air-   Chambered Sewer Trap.

Manufacturers of

White and Yellow Enamelled Pire-Clay Sinks,

Washing Tubs, Milk Coolers, etc.

White and Coloured Enamelled Bricks,

Fire-Clay Sanitary Ware,

Glazed Sewerage and Water Pipes, Facing

Bricks, Cattle and Pig Troughs, Horse Mangers,

Water Cisterns, Fire Bricks, Furnace Blocks,

Gas Retorts, Chimney Cans, Flower Vases, and every description of Fire-Clay Goods.

Their enamelled fire clay sinks received Silver Medal at the London International Health Exhibition, 1884 and First Prize Medal from the

Sanitary Institute of Great Britain at Dublin, 1884.

And also obtained Highest Awards at Glasgow, 1883 and Newcastle,1882,

from the Sanitary Institute of Great Britain.

Received Prize Medals for Fire-Clay Goods at London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, and Ayr.

Buchan’s Patent have received highest awards wherever exhibited and are Patronized by the Government Departments, and by the leading Architects,

Physicians, and Sanitarians in the Kingdom; and in use at Balmoral Castle.

None are genuine unless stamped ‘Buchan’s Patent’ and with our names as Sole Makers.

Buchan’s Patent Grease Trap and Buchan’s Ventilating Drain Trap (No. 2)-

About 40,000 in use.

Manufacturers of – Sanitary and Plumbers’ Earthenware, Cabinet Stands, Urinals, Closet Basins, Toilet Ware, Etc.

Sole makers of Armstrong’s Patent Automatic Flushing Urinals.

Price Lists and all information on application at Head Office, Kilmarnock.

Sole Makers of

‘ The Shields ‘ Patent Flushout Closet.

‘ The Shields ‘ Patent Flushout Urinal.

‘The Shields ‘ Registered Trapped Urinal.

Buchan’s (Edinburgh) Patent ‘ Eclipse ‘ Syphoning  Water-closet.

Buchan’s (Edinburgh) Patent ‘Climax’ Syphoning Water-closet.

Offices at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Greenock. Agencies in most of the principal towns in England, Scotland and Ireland. Edinburgh Depot and Office— 3 Canning Street. Dochard and McLean. Agents.

1886 J M Craig Kilmarnock advert

24/12/1887 – Glasgow Herald – Yesterday morning between two and three o’clock one of the large wooden sheds in which work is carried out at the brickwork of Messrs J & M Craig, Perceton, was discovered to be on fire. Fortunately, the efforts used to confine the fire to the shed in which it originated were successful, but in addition to the structure itself, a number of valuable moulds were destroyed. It is estimated that the damage done will exceed £500.

1888 – Alexander Murray (Agent for Messrs. J. & M. Craig), Perceton and Hillhead Fire Clay Works, Kilmarnock. Office, 98, Commerce Street. For upwards of twenty years the well-known Hillhead and Perceton Fire Clay Works, Kilmarnock, of which Messrs. J. & M. Craig are the proprietors, have had a depot and warehouse in this city, Mr Alexander Murray of the above address being the representative of the firm. Mr Murray, does a very extensive business, in fire clay goods, lime, and cement. The well-known sanitary ware manufactured by Messrs. J. & M. Craig has long occupied a prominent and well-sustained position in the trade. All the latest improvements have been introduced into its construction, and the well-known and durable character of their fire clay has made this ware very popular with sanitary engineers, architects, and builders.

The stock held by Mr Murray embraces glazed sewerage pipes, patent traps and cesspools, grease boxes, white and yellow enamelled sinks, washtubs, and milk coolers, white and coloured enamelled bricks; also Buchan’s patent, sanitary appliances, including the famous drain ventilating traps, of which about 70,000 are now in use all over the country, and in America, the Colonies, &c. ; patent trap fittings, patent improved drain-pipes, patent grease traps, as used at Balmoral Castle, the Highland residence of the Queen; and Buchan’s anti-bell traps, Maguire’s patent safety-joint drain pipes, and Potts’s patent Edinburgh air-chambered sewer trap. Buchan’s patent drain traps awarded a gold medal at the International Health Exhibition, London, 1884, and highest awards at the other recent Sanitary Exhibitions. Potts’s patent trap was also awarded a gold medal at the International Health Exhibition, London, 1884, and at the Edinburgh International Exhibition, 1886. Messrs. J. & M. Craig received the only gold medal awarded for fire clay goods.

Mr Murray is also agent for Messrs. Craig’s, Longpark Sanitary Pottery, Kilmarnock, at which they manufacture sanitary and plumbers’ earthenware, including cabinet stands, plug and tip-up basins, urinals, water closets, toilet ware, &c., the “Silent” flush-out closet, the Shield’s flush-out closet, and Armstrong’s patent automatic flushing urinals.

20/04/1888 – Fifeshire Advertiser – Glasgow Exhibition – Lilliehill Fire Clay and Terra Cotta Works-The Messrs L & M. Craig, Lilliehill Fire Clay and Terra Cotta Works, Dunfermline, are to be exhibitors at Glasgow of a large assortment of terra cotta statuary and vases.  A good deal of really artistic work will be displayed in the moulding and adjuncts of the figures.  The same firm will also send an arrangement of their Kilmarnock enamelled bricks, washtubs, &c.

25/08/1888 – Lennox Herald – International Exhibition, Glasgow – Sanitary section – Messrs J and M. Craig, Kilmarnock, show sanitary appliances, consisting of baths, water closets, sewage pipes, traps, acid tanks, bricks, toilet ware, &c., all beautiful in design and decoration. On this stand are two statuettes, in fire clay, of Professor Simpson, Edinburgh, which for the fineness of skin and quality are in no way inferior to the best Parian.

Below – 1889 – 1890 – J & M Craig, Kilmarnock advert.

j & m craig 1889 - 1890

Below – 18/05/1889 – Dundee Courier – (See below entry dated 25/10/1889). Court case over the quality of J & M Craig water pipes.

29/06/1889  – The Record and Guide Vol 43, No. 1111- Advert – Glazed or enamelled brick. Messrs. J. & M. Craig, of Kilmarnock, Scotland, have appointed Messrs.  Charles R. Weeks & Brother, of New York, their Sole Agents for the United  States. Our White and Colored Glazed Brick are unsurpassed by any others made in Great Britain. Samples and prices may be obtained from the office of our Agents. Charles R. Weeks & Brother, 74 Murray St., New York.

Below – 25/10/1889 – Dundee Advertiser – Court case against J & M Craig – dismissed.

1892 – page 67 – Monsell, Mitchell & Co, Timber, Slate, Stone, Tile, and Cement Merchants, 73, Townsend Street, Dublin. They are agents for Messrs. J. & M. Craig, of Kilmarnock, Scotland, one of the largest manufacturing firms of fire-clay goods and sanitary ware of the very best description in the United Kingdom, comprising white enamelled bricks, scullery sinks, baths, lavatory basins, terra-cotta vases, pedestals, facing bricks, chim­ney cans, Buchan’s patent and Pott’s patent ventilating traps, special glazed sewer pipes and connections, etc., etc.

1893 – Advert J & M Craig.

1893 – 1896 – James Craig – Fire Clay Manufacturer and Coal Master. Deanmont, Kilmarnock.

24/07/1894 – Glasgow Herald – Scottish coal strikes …Messrs J & M Craig’s fire clay works at Perceton have been in operation up till the present time but the stock of coal there is now nearly exhausted and the works will probably be temporarily closed at the end of the current week …

05/10/1894 – Dundee Advertiser – Threatened closure of a pit – A notice is posted at the Perceton Pit, Irvine which is wrought by Messrs Craig of Kilmarnock Fireclay Works, that if the men don’t return to work at once the pit will be closed and contracts entered into with Lanarkshire coalmasters for supply of coal sufficient to restart the fireclay works.

Below – 1896 – J & M Craig advert.


1896 – J & M Craig were incorporated – J & M Craig Limited.

Below – 1896 – 1897 – J & M Craig Advert.

craig kilmarnock 1896

1901 – Directory of Clay Workers – J & M Craig Limited. Hillhead & Perceton Fire Clay Works & Longpark Pottery, Kilmarnock. Glazed wall tiles, white glazed fire clay sinks, wash tubs and supports, Craig’s ‘Million’ closets and urinal ranges, enamelled bricks and every description of fire clay goods and sanitary earthenware. London agents: Glazed wall tiles – R. L. Huxtable, 10 Arthur Street West, London Bridge, E.C.; Fire clay sinks and closets, Wm. Harriman & Co Ltd, 15 Charterhouse Street, Holborn Circus, E. C.; Sanitary Earthenware – G. A. Cowieson, 5 Charterhouse Street, Holborn Circus, E. C.

Below – 29/08/1901 – The Sanitary Press and Journal Vol 28 … The spigot and faucet drain pipes are made by machinery, the clay being forced through a “die” by means of revolving knives arranged inside a cylinder, something after the manner of the fan of a steamer.

The cattle troughs, horse mangers, etc., and the Buchan’s patent ventilating drain traps (of which Messrs. J. and M. Craig are the sole makers) are made in moulds. Those used for the drain traps are each in two halves upon which are laid webs of clay. When these have been beaten in with pads and have thoroughly assumed the shape of the moulds, the two halves are brought together, the joint is perfected by kneading, and the whole trap very carefully finished or smoothed over inside and out.

The pipes, traps, and other fire-clay sanitary ware manufactured by this firm are generally acknowledged to be the best in the market. They are made true to form, strong enough to resist all probable strain or pressure, and thoroughly glazed internally and externally so as to be impervious alike to liquid sewage and to deleterious and unsavoury gases.

Besides the articles mentioned, furnace blocks, gas retorts, chimney cans, flower vases, and every description of fire clay ware are produced at these works. Having the advantages of clay of unrivalled quality, skilled workmen, and long experience in the trade, Messrs. Craig have been enabled to furnish goods of such superior quality that they have gained the deserved reputation of being (as already mentioned) the foremost fire clay manufacturers in Scotland.

They have been awarded many prize medals in silver and bronze at Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, and Ayr; and have also received first-class awards from the Sanitary Institute of Great Britain, and the Glasgow Philosophical Society, and at the London International Medical and Sanitary Exhibition. At the International Health Exhibition, they received three medals – gold, silver, and bronze.

Bricks and other goods manufactured by Messrs. Craig are exported to Canada, the United States, India, China, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. Their gas retorts and fire bricks have been largely used in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich, and their Buchan’s patent drain traps are in use at Balmoral Castle and in innumerable castles, mansions, public buildings, and private dwellings over all the kingdom.

About eighteen months ago a Pottery, for the manufacture of sanitary ware, was added to the other works …

1903 – J & M Craig Limited – Hillhead & Perceton Fire Clay Works & Longpark Pottery, Kilmarnock

Below – 1905 – 1906 – J and M Craig, Hillhead, Perceton and Longpark, Kilmarnock

1907 – J & M Craig Limited, Enamelled brick manufacturers, 105 & 98 Commerce Street, Glasgow.

21/12/1907 – Hamilton Herald – Auction sales. On an early day. At Perceton Collieries and Fireclay Works, Dreghorn. Colliery and brickworks plant, branch railway etc.

Below – 19/01/1910 – Derry Journal – Alex McElwee discharging a cargo of fireclay goods from the Crusader – J & M Craig, Kilmarnock.

24/12/1910 – Dundee Courier – New Scottish Company – Scottish Silica Company, Perceton Fire Brick Works, Ayr (Private Company). To carry on the business as brick makers etc. Capital £7000 in £1 shares. (Note – SBH – Is this the same as the Scottish Silicate Brick Company Limited?).

21/03/1913 – New Scottish Company – Perceton Silica Brick and Cement Company Limited, Perceton by Irvine (Private company) to carry on the business of brick manufacturers and tile and terracotta makers &c. Capital £2000 in £1 shares.

Below – 30/01/1915 – Donegal Independent – Robert Keys & Co – Sole agents in Londonderry for J & M Craig, Kilmarnock. (also 12/08/1910).

1918 – Shanks & Co acquired the earthenware manufacturers J & M Craig, Kilmarnock.

Below – 30/03/1918 – Hamilton Advertiser – Hillhead Fireclay Works, Kilmarnock for sale.

Below – 09/1931 – The Royal Engineers Journal – The demolition of a brickworks by Lieut-Colonel G. G McLean, R E (T). A very interesting article regarding the demolition of the Perceton Brickworks by 241 st Field Company.


Below – 1938 – Perceton Fire Clay Works, Perceton, Ayrshire.

1947 Perceton fire clay works

Below – 2015 – sold at auction – Large Scottish Fireclay Warwick vase and stand by J & M Craig, Kilmarnock. Mid 19th century – the low campana form urn with entwined branch handles and moulded with relief masks, on a squared plinth base moulded with rams’ masks, seraphim, and relief profile portraits of Robert Burns. 100cm wide, 114cm high.

J & M Craig Kilmarnock urn

 Below – A Scottish terracotta bust of Robert Burns (1759-1796) by J & M Craig, Kilmarnock. Late 19th century. Stamped ‘J & M Craig/Perceton/Kilmarnock’ to the waisted socle, with residual painted decoration 40 in. (102 cm.) high. Source

j & m craig kilmarnock bust of robert burns

Below – Pair of terracotta urns  23 1/2 in. tall, each impressed J & M Craig Ltd. Christie’s lot #440, $9,048.93. Estimate: $ 1000.00 – $ 2000.00 Sold at $4000.

j and m craig kilmarnock urn pedestal

Below – Scottish two-piece terracotta garden urn featuring a figural relief design, ivy leaves around the rim, a king astride a horse with attending knave, a man with griffin above clusters of roses, and rising on a swirl support and square base. Impressed mark on base: J & M Craig, Perceton, Kilmarnock – source

j m craig urn king horse

 Below – c. 1900 – Front cover of a J & M Craig Sanitary Fire Clay Ware catalogue.

j & m craig catalogue cover

Below – 19/06/2016 – Some photographs taken at the old Perceton Fire Clay Works site and showing a substantial stone support for some unidentified heavy machinery and the boundary wall to the site which has been built with loosely laid in bricks or various shapes and sizes manufactured on-site.

Perceton Fire Clay Works, Perceton, AyrshirePerceton Fire Clay Works, Perceton, Ayrshire


Perceton Fire Clay Works, Perceton, AyrshirePerceton Fire Clay Works, Perceton, Ayrshire


Perceton Fire Clay Works, Perceton, AyrshirePerceton Fire Clay Works, Perceton, Ayrshire


Perceton Fire Clay Works, Perceton, AyrshirePerceton Fire Clay Works, Perceton, Ayrshire

Below – Some additional photographs of an underground tunnel or hot gas flue built with J & M Craig fire bricks. It does not appear to have been affected by heat so it may simply be for bringing water to or from the site?

Perceton Fire Clay Works, Perceton, AyrshirePerceton Fire Clay Works, Perceton, Ayrshire

Below – Two lovely examples of the J & M Craig stamps. The first is a brick built into the wall of the elaborate public conveniences in Rothesay, Bute.

Once ashore, the first building passed by passengers leaving the ferry from Wemyss Bay is Rothesay’s famous public convenience, built on the Pierhead in 1899-1900 when the resort was at its peak of popularity with day-trippers from Glasgow (Fig 330). This gentlemen’s lavatory was designed by the Rothesay architect John Russell Thomson (1841-1910), and the brown glazed bricks of its exterior were supplied by James Craig & Co of Kilmarnock; one of the bricks bears the firm’s name. Inside, the walls are lined with tiles, mainly yellow with some green, and on the ceramic mosaic floor, which includes the town’s coat of arms, stand twenty Twyfords imitation marble ceramic urinal stalls, six of them on a central island. The marble effect was achieved by the use of transfer printing. After being out of use for several years, the gents was restored and improved (a modern ladies toilet was created using outbuildings) during the early 1990s by Strathclyde Building Preservation Trust and the Jackfield Conservation Studio at a cost of almost £300,000; it reopened in 1994.


Below – Salt glazed drain plus grill photographed at Floors Castle, Kelso, Scottish Borders. J & M Craig and Buchan’s Patent.






This is possibly James Craig of J  & M Craig but I cannot confirm the same as yet. Can anyone confirm or otherwise. – click me


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