Ravenscroft Brick and Tile Works, Prestonpans, East Lothian

Brick manufacture  – did not develop early in Scotland, where there were ample supplies of stone. However, tiles were worked from medieval times, especially for the decoration of religious houses. By the late 18th century, brickmaking for house building was on the rise, as was an interest in the hand manufacture of earthenware tiles and pipes for field drainage, especially in places where a suitable supply of clay existed. This was the case along the coastline from Portobello to Prestonpans. Once waste fireclay and shale (‘blaes’) from coal mining was recognised as having suitable properties for use in pottery and brick manufacture, production was closely linked to the source of these raw materials, as was the case at Prestonpans. At Prestongrange, an interest in agricultural improvement encouraged the manufacture of field drainage tiles which, in turn, led to the manufacture of heavy ceramics. In 1789, two sites produced tiles and bricks, one near the Old Kirk and another, using clay dug locally, at Ravenscroft.

Ravenscroft Brick and Tile Works were situated adjacent to the Northfield Estate on the northside of the road, by the seashore and within the Barony of Prestongrange.

c. 1770 – Works established by a builder from Edinburgh named Thomas Russell.

1789 – Two sites produced tiles and bricks, one near the Old Kirk and another, using clay dug locally, at Ravenscroft.

c. 1790 – 1800 – Caddell, Anderson & Co, Old Kirk Pottery and Brickworks also leased Ravenscroft Brickworks from the owner Alexander Banks via his nieces, misses Clapperton.

1793 – The main brick and tile works in 1793 was located adjacent to the old kirkyard at Prestonpans. It employed only six men but had thirteen kilns fired that year, each capable of holding 10,000 tiles. The smaller works, (Ravenscroft) which were by the shore nearby, employed only three men and had nine slightly smaller kilns fired that year which contained only 9000 tiles each. Both works used the local fireclay, which according to Trotter was ‘found in great plenty in the neighbourhood’.

1813 – David Thomson and Company took over the tile works

1817 – The brick and tile works were sold to Hew Francis Cadell, Cockenzie.


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