Plann Colliery and Fire Clay Works, Kilmarnock, North Ayrshire

Plann Colliery and Fire Clay Works aka Plan.


Info – The 1860, 1898 – 1904 and, 1923 and 1912 OS maps all show that the extent to which Knockentiber was surrounded by collieries, coal pits and freight-only railway or ‘tram’ lines. Collieries were located near Busbie farm and Plann. These were served by standard gauge mineral railway lines, crisscrossing the countryside; they all now lifted, with only a few embankments left to indicate their original course. In 1860 numerous old and current coal pits dotted the area. The waste bings of Busbie Colliery still lie close to Busbie farm in the field across the road. Greenhill freestone quarry layover towards Waterpark and several limekilns were present near the Carmel Ford, etc. J. & R. Howie had extracted coal and clay under licence from the National Coal Board in 1951. Tiles were made at the rail-served Plann Brickworks and Balgray Bauxite Company had a small mine at Fardalehill. Quarry house still stands.

Plann Fireclay Works was a very large works making a range of products including salt-glazed sewer pipes. It had 14 downdraught kilns, some rectangular and some round, and at least one Newcastle kiln. This works closed in 1969 and was demolished in 1978. It was probably the largest works of its kind in Scotland.

Balgray Bauxite Company Limited – Fardalehill Mine – The Company exploited the bauxitic fireclays which reached from Saltcoats to Fardalehill. They did use clay themselves but sold much of it to other brick manufacturers.

1856 – There are no references to the Plann Brickworks on the 1856 map. The nearby Pan Farm is spelt with one ‘N’. It appears with two ‘N’s on the 1895 map.

1874 – John and W.C McKnight take the lease for the Plann Fire Clay Works.

Below – 23/02/1874 – Northern Whig – Alexander King, Belfast – agents for the Plann fireclay, fire and composition bricks and flooring tiles.

13/10/1875 – North British Agriculturist – On Friday James Dool, bricklayer, died from the effects of an accident received on Thursday afternoon at the Plan Brickworks, two miles from Kilmarnock. He and another named Wm. Marsh, were engaged in the erection of a chimney at that work when the scaffolding gave way, and they were precipitated to the ground, a distance of twenty-five feet. Dool had both his legs broken and was much cut about the head. He was thirty-eight years of age and has left a wife and family. Marsh was not much hurt and is recovering. 

13/03/1879 – Ayr Advertiser – Ayr Public House.- The contractor for the new Public Hall has, from a number of offers, selected that of Messrs John McKnight & Son, Plan Colliery and Fire Clay Works, Kilmarnock, to supply the enamelled bricks to be used in constructing the walls and arches of the police cells, and also the passage underneath the hall commuting between the Police Court Lane and High Street.

17/01/1882 – John Ure Forrest, lime and cement merchant, 6 Oswald Street, Glasgow. Agent for John McKnight & Sons, Enamelled brick, Plann, Kilmarnock.

Below – 06/03/1885 – Glasgow Herald –  Plann Colliery and Fireclay Works for sale.

Below – 13/04/1885 – Plann Fire Clay Works – Sale of stock.

Below – 26/05/1885 – Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald – Bankrupt examination – John McKnight and Son, Plann. (Note – SBH – He had been in partnership with William Crichton McKnight).

Below – 26/02/1886 –  Ardrossan and Saltcoats Herald – Court case regarding the lease of Plann Fireclay Works by John and W.C McKnight.


Below – c.1890? – Plann Fireclay Works Crosshouse Ayrshire.

Below – 20/03/1890 – Ayr Advertiser – Fire at the Howie Plann Fireclay Works.

25/03/1890 – The Scotsman – Retorts (23) 72″ and 27″ by 16″ for sale at Plann Fireclay Works, Kilmarnock. Price 15s each.

Below – 1895 – Plann Brick and Tile Works.

Below – 19/07/1895 – Glasgow Herald – Lands of Plann for sale including the colliery, fireclay and brickworks carried on by Messrs J & R Howie … £12,000 …

1901 – Directory of clay workers – J & R Howie, Hurlford and Plann Fire Clay Works, near Kilmarnock. Drain pipes, fire and glazed bricks, glazed sinks, water closets, baths. T. add – Howie Hurlford. Tel 14 Kilmarnock.

04/04/1903 – Dundee Courier – New joint-stock companies – J & R Howie Limited to acquire and carry on the business of miners, colliery proprietors, coalmasters, fireclay manufacturers &c at Hurlfoed and Plam, Ayrshire. Capital £80,000.

Below – 1908 – Plann Fireclay Works.

Below – 25/02/1924 – Aberdeen Press and Journal – John Stevenson charged with on 12th October at the pay office of the Plann Fire Clay Works, Crosshouse, Kilmaurs pretended to Jean McCraw, Kilmarnock, pay clerk to J & R Howie that he had been sent for the pay of John Stands, 36 Townend, Kilmaurs, a miner and thus induced her to hand him £5 11s 7d which he appropriated for himself.

Below – c.1927 – 1928 – Villagers at Howie’s sink finishers. Plann in Knockentiber. Source – Eleanor Kennedy.

07/08/1927 – Sunday Post – Kilmarnock man sent to prison – Kilmarnock, Saturday. Twenty-four work people in the Kilmarnock district were robbed of their holiday pleasures this year, the money they had subscribed for their annual holiday at the Grozet Fair having been embezzled by the treasurer of the fund. The sequel was heard in Kilmarnock Sheriff Court, where James Innes, Jun., brick finisher, 20 Boyd Street, Kilmarnock, was charged with having, between 16th August 1926, and 28th July 1927, embezzled sums of money amounting to £67 6d, which he had received while acting as treasurer for the Plann Brickworks Holiday Fund, Crosshouse. He pleaded guilty and stated that the cause of his downfall was betting on horses. The Procurator-fiscal (Mr W. J. Robertson) said that when the subscribers to this fund went to draw their holiday money it had disappeared, and no funds were available. The police, being informed, issued a warrant for the apprehension of the accused, who later gave himself up to the police. Sheriff Martin Laing sentenced the accused to three months’ imprisonment.

25/03/1929 – Published in the Scottish Pottery Society Bulletin no 37, November 2003.  The Scottish Enamelled Brick Co., Ltd letterhead. The letter is written to a customer to accompany a copy of their ‘Brick Pattern Book’. The letterhead also details the fact that the company works are situated at Ferguslie, Paisley; Plann, Crosshouse and Southhook, Crosshouse. (Many thanks to George Haggarty for this information).

Below- 1938 – Plann Fireclay Works.

1940 – 1941 – R P Cochrane representatives for J & R  Howie, Kilmarnock (Agents for the Scottish Brick Enamelled Company) House – 51 Milton Crescent, Portobello. Telephone 82459 Portobello

1940 – 1941 – Hurlford and Plann Fire Clay Works.

Below – 30/07/1941 – The Scotsman – Fire at the Plann Fireclay Works owned by J & R Howie.

Below – 1944 – 1967 – Plann Fireclay Works.

1970s – The 1985 publication ‘A survey of Scottish brickmarks’ suggests that Howie-Southhook Ltd were operating the works around this time.

July 1970 – Clay Workers magazine – Wanted. Two Tecalemit top firing trolleys. Contact Howie-Southhhook Ltd, Plann Works, Cross House, Kilmarnock. Tel Kilmarnock 25042. (Information by Ann Los, East Yorks).

23/10/1970 – Irvine Herald – Youth of smart appearance wanted for Plann Fireclay Work Office, Crosshouses. Must be a neat writer and figurer. The job holds a good promise of promotion. Apply with details of age and education to Personnel Manager, Howie Southhook Ltd, Kilmarnock.

1978 – The 1985 publication ‘A survey of Scottish brickmarks’ suggests the works were demolished by 1978.

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