Robert Brown & Son, Ferguslie Fireclay Works, Paisley – History

2 1520

Robert Brown was born at Rainger Home farm, East Kilbride, 15th July, 1810. In 1815, his parents moved to Nether Capellie Farm, Neilston, and the boy’s first responsibility was to herd on the braes above Glen Killoch until he reached school age. He was educated at Neilston parish school, and showed an aptitude for Latin and Greek and Arithmetic—the intention being that he should proceed to the University.

This intention was departed from, and came to Paisley in 1827 and had built his home ‘Underwood Park’ on Underwood Road. Subsequently going to Glasgow, he acted for a time as reporter and sub-editor of the Chronicle newspaper, which helped to give a literary bias to his inclinations. In 1834, he was appointed Town Chamberlain to the Burgh of Paisley, and in 1845 was an accountant and share broker in Buchanan Street, Glasgow.

Having acquired the property of Ferguslie in 1850, he founded the Ferguslie Fire-clay Works. The firm originally produced fireclay linings for furnaces, garden ornaments and statuary for gardens (by 1876 the business had expanded to the manufacture of white sanitary earthenware,wall tiles and Bricks). Browns Brickworks remained a significant manufacturer and employer until the mid 70’s.

In 1854, he entered the Town Council for the Fourth Ward, and two years after, in 1856 was elected Provost of Paisley, as which he served until 1859. Retired from his term in office he turned to literary work, the result being the publication of a series of works : History of the High Church, History of the Grammar School and Academy, History of Burns Clubs, Memoirs of Paisley Poets, and his greatest work, A History of Paisley, he is also believed to be the author of the ‘Paisley Pamphlets’, a collection of ephemera rich in social history covering the period 1739 – 1893

Robert Brown died in 1895 leaving an estate to the value of £23,962 (£2,571,589 today)


23/11/1855 – Greenock Advertiser – Robert Brown Advert – Caledonian Brick and Drain Tile Works and Ferguslie Fire Clay Works.


01/06/1856 – South Australian Register Newspaper – Jennings Patent drain pipes

Below – 08/05/1857 – Glasgow Herald – Ferguslie Fire Clay Works Advert.


08/08/1857 – Paisley Herald – Highland Agricultural Society Show – ….there are rick standards, field gates and iron fences of great beauty, weighing machines for carts, and cattle enamelled clay troughs and tiles of every size. Provost Brown of the Caledonian Brick and Drain Tile Works and of the Ferguslie Fire Clay Works, is a large exhibitor in these departments……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.

Below –  1858 –  Ferguslie Fireclay Works, Paisley

Below - OS Map 1858 - Ferguslie Fireclay Works, Paisley

Below – 05/03/1858 – Glasgow Herald – Robert Brown advert.

1858 – 59 – Daniel Dalglish Agents for Ferguslie Fire bricks and glazed drain pipes, 158 Eglinton Street, Glasgow. House 50 Cavendish Street.(page  87)

Below – 30/04/1859 – Greenock Advertiser. – Robert Brown advert for Jennings Sewer Pipes.

Below – 30/12/1859 – Glasgow Herald –  Robert Brown, Ferguslie Fire Clay Works, Paisley advert re making and selling Jennings patented pipes.

Below – 1859 – 1860 George Jennings Sewer Pipes – Ferguslie Fire Clay Works advert         

Jennings Sewer Pipes - Ferguslie Fire Ckay Works advert

13/01/1860 – Glasgow Herald – Patent Sewer Pipes – Robert Brown, Ferguslie Fire Clay Works, Paisley has the exclusive right from Mr Jennings, the patentee to make and sell these, now universally admitted superior pipes in Scotland, with the liberty to sell in Ireland and foreign countries. Ornamental chimney cans, vent linings, socket pipes, fire bricks etc etc. Prices, diagrams and models and every information furnished on application.

City office – 8 St Enoch Square, Glasgow

Glasgow Depot – 158 Eglinton Street

Greenock Depot – 4 Chapel Street

Paisley Do – Sneddon Bridge

Below – 28/06/1861 – Belfast Morning News – Robert Brown advert with reference to Jennings Patent Sewer Pipes.


01/08/1861 – Edinburgh Evening Courant – Highland and Agricultural Society Show at Perth –

Pipe or Tile Machine for hand or power, eight sovereigns, George Finlayson, Gighty Burn, Arbroath; …..

Tiles or pipes for field drainage. Two sovereigns – Christie & Son, Shore Road, Stirling. 2d. Bronze medal – Alexander Meldrum, Seafield Tile Works, St Andrews.

Glazed socketed pipes for sewerage, three sovereigns John Robson 47 Cook Street, Glasgow, 2d Bronze medal, Robert Brown, Ferguslie Fire clay Works, Paisley. Commended Edmonstone Coal Co, Dalkeith.

Feeding troughs for byres, One sovereign John Robson 47 Cook Street, Glasgow, 2d Bronze medal, Robert Brown, Ferguslie Fire clay Works, Paisley

Extra implements machines etc – Highly commended – Collection of vases, paving bricks, horse manger, pig trough and milk cooler – John Robson.

Below – 1862 – 63 – Advert Robert Brown  – Jennings patent sewer pipe






Now holds the exclusive right from the Patentee to Manufacture and Sell these pipes in all Scotland, with the liberty to Sell in Ireland and in Foreign Countries.

“Mr. George Jennings’ Patent Drain Pipes, as we have before taken occasion today, are certainly the best arrangement that can be used.”_Builder

The Pipes are the most perfect yet introduced, and are universally acknowledged, the only improvement yet effected on the ordinary Socket of Half-Socket Pipe. The following are some of the advantages offered by the use of these Pipes:-

1st, These Pipes, which are plain at both ends, are laid in the rebates of the chair sufficient distance apart to admit of the workman striking up the joint of the invert

perfectly fair on the inside, thus avoiding the burr of the cement or other stopping material being left to impede the flow of sewage, and ultimately stopping up the drain.

2nd, the Superintendent of the Works can insure this being effectually done by personal examination, before allowing the saddle pieces to be put on.

3rd, Facilities for examination, such as no other system of drainage presents, or admits of, as in the event of stoppage, it is only necessary to remove the Upper Saddle in any way damaging the drain, the only expense being the labour.

4th, Should Branch Drains be required at any future time it is only necessary to remove any one of the Plain Saddles, and to substitute for it a Junction Saddle, as at D which, by turning round, is available for either side of the street.

These pipes with all the advantages they possess, are the same price per yard including the Patent Saddle and Cradle, as charged for the ordinary Socket Pipes.

Single Junctions and Bends of every kind, including the Patent Saddle and Cradle charged as 1 ½ yards; Double Junctions, as 2 yards; and Cesspools, as 3 yards.

The usual Socket Pipes also made, and sold as formerly; along with Ornaments, Chimney Cans, Vent Linings, Joist Shields, Fire Bricks, &c., &c., and all articles made of fire clay.

Machine made Building Bricks, and also Drain Pipes, and Tiles for Field Drainage of all sizes, and of the best quality.

Prices and all further particulars furnished on application.

PAISLEY DEPOT. . . . . . . . . . . . SNEDDON BRIDGE

GLASGOW Do . . . . . . . . . . . No. 158 EGLINTON STREET

EDINBURGH Do . . . . . . . . . . . SPITTAL STREET

DUBLIN Do . . . . . . . . . . . 56 NORTH WALL QUAY


05/05/1864 – Glasgow Morning Journal  – Discusses the Clyde Navigation Bill ………………..Mr Brown, brick and drain pipe manufacturer in Glasgow and Paisley, said he carried on a pretty extensive trade on the coast and the Clyde and objected to the Bill because it would double his rates. He never sent goods from Paisley to Glasgow by river. He had tried it once but found it to be impracticable. He stated in cross examination that the Bill would affect him to the extent of L20 (£20?) per annum – no more………

04/07/1865 – Belfast News – Scotch Fireclay goods – Scottish fireclay 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 sewage 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

26/04/1867 – Saunders News Letter – …There are specimens to be seen of the Paisley fire clay pipes, troughs,bricks, tiles and vases exhibited by Brown & Sons from the depot at the north wall……..

Below – 11/06/1867 – Belfast Mercantile Register and Weekly Advertiser. Advert for R.Brown & Son, Ferguslie Fire Clay Works.


Below – 02/07/1867 – Mercantile Journal – Advert for R.Brown & Son, Ferguslie Fire Clay Works


Below – 01/08/1867 – The Dublin Builder – Ferguslie Fire Clay Works, Paisley. Glazed sewer pipes (patent and socket) and all articles made of fire clay of superior quality, for sale at the depot. No 56 North Wall – Quay, Dublin. Robert Brown & Son. Also drainage pipes of all sizes for field drainage. Prices very moderate.

Below – 17/03/1868 – Belfast Mercantile Register –  Robert Brown bricks exported to Belfast and prices.

Below – 20/04/1868 – Enniskillen Chronicle and Erne Packet. Advert for R.Brown & Son, Ferguslie Fire Clay Works


Below – 1868 – 1869  – Advert Robert Brown & Son – Jennings patent sewer pipe

1868 Robert Brown Ferguslie Jenninhs

1869 – office – Abercorn Bridge

Below – 05/08/1869 – Southern Reporter – Fatal accident at Shortroods.

Below 1869 – 1870  Advert Robert Brown Ferguslie fireclay works, Paisley

1869 advert Robert Brown Ferguslie fireclay works, Paisley

Below – 1870 – Advert For Robert Brown Ferguslie Fire Clay Works and Caledonia and Shortroods Brick and Drain Pipe and Tile Works, Paisley and 1875 – 1876

1870 Brown Ferguslie Caledonia and Shortroods

05/05/1870 – Northern Whig – Robert Brown & Son, Ferguslie Fire Clay Works, Paisley


26/12/1870 – Glasgow Herald – Mysterious disappearance – Archibald Black engaged with the vessel Mona, carrying bricks and tiles for Messrs Robert Brown & Son, Ferguslie and Caledonia Brick and Drain Tile Works, mysteriously disappeared about a week ago from Paisley and has not been heard of since. No reason can be assigned for his disappearance. Black is a man about 45 years of age, greyish hair, 5 feet 8 or 9 inches, sharp features and resided 280 Holm Street, Glasgow.

Below – 1871 Advert – Robert Brown & Son –  Ferguslie, Caledonia, Shortroods

Robert Brown & Sons Ferguslie Fire Clay Works, Paisley advert 1871 - 1872

Below- 1870 – 1871 Robert Brown & Son advert. Edinburgh Depot 17 St Anthony Place, Port Hopetoun off Lothian Road. P 152

Robert Brown & Son advert. 1870

1871 – 1872 – Robert Brown & Son – Town Office Sneddon Bridge – Works Caledonia, Shortroods & Ferguslie

30/03/1874 – Glasgow Herald – Brick building – We beg to intimate that Messrs Bell and Mclauchlan, brick builders, No 2 Glen Lane, Paisley have taken a lease at a part of the brick works at Shortroods, Paisley and we have therefore ceased to manufacture red building bricks and to execute brick building work. As Messrs Bell and McLauchlan were foremen to us in our brick building department for many years we can with the utmost guarantee recommend them to parties with whom we done business and to the Public generally. We also beg to intimate that we still continue to carry on the manufacture of drain pipes and tiles for field drainage at Shortroods and likewise to manufacture glazed sewerage pipes and every class of fire clay goods at the Ferguslie Fire Clay Works, Paisley. – Robert Brown & Son, Paisley 27/03/1874

01/04/1874 – Glasgow Herald – Going Brick Work to let – A field of clay at Shortroods brick works, Paisley along with a brick making machine an steam engine and every necessary asparagus connected with brick making for such a number of years as may be agreed upon. The clay is of the best quality and the brick making machine is of the newest and most approved description and ready for commencing operations. The brick work is connected by railway with the Caledonian Railway and also with a wharf close at hand on the side of the River Cart. Apply to Robert Brown, Sneddon Bridges, Paisley. 31/03/1874.

Below – 28/07/1877 – Paisley and Renfrewshire Gazette – Messrs R Brown & Son exhibit enamelled bricks at the Highland Show.

1878– R Brown & Son, Firebrick manufacturers, 158 Eglington Street, Glasgow.

Below – 26/10/1886 – Edinburgh Evening News – International exhibition – S = Silver, B = bronze and HM = honourable mention.

Below – 1903 Invoice – Ferguslie Fire Clay Works, Paisley.

Below – 1935  – Catalogue – Robert Brown & Son, Ltd a branch of Associated Fireclay Companies, Ltd, Ferguslie Works, Paisley.



Information on George Jennings

George Jennings 1810 – 1882

Graces Guide – George Jennings


Below – This is a G Jennings Poole stamp . Found on a water / sewer pipe by Dr Jorg Ansorge in Stralsund (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), Germany, a sea port town at the Baltic Sea coast.

G Jennings' Poole

Link to similar pipe found in Poole


Robert Brown Ferguslie stoneware ornamental lions

Ferguslie stoneware lions


A pair of Scottish stoneware urns on pedestals stamped  – Ferguslie, Brown & Son Paisley. 48 in. (122 cm.) high overall

pair of Robert Brown Paisley urns and pedestals



Below – How the Ferguslie Works , Paisley look today ( Googole maps 2017)

Fulbar Road



Source Kenneth Sanderson – In 1858 the Robert Brown and Sons, Ferguslie Fireclay Works, Paisley were producing 12,000 tons a year of firebricks, chimney cans, boiler flue covers and ornamental garden vases. This was a large tonnage for those days and must have been built up over some years. Slaters directory 1867 mentions that they were producing fireclay goods of every description. Robert Brown senior died in 1900 (?) and was succeed by his son Robert who incorporated the company in April 1902. The capital was substantial:25,000 6% £1 preference shares and 25,000 £1 ordinary shares. The  profits for the previous 6 years had averaged £7,525 but had dropped ominously in the last 2 years which was said to be due to the large coal price increases. The mineral leases on the lands of Brediland and Meikleriggs were due to expire at Martinmas 1904, only short time ahead. but other sources of fireclay were said to be available locally. Sanitary pottery was said to be the most profitable business and this was based on the raw materials from the south coast of England. Perhaps  not surprisingly profits continued to fall and serious losses were incurred during the 1914 – 1918 war. The company struggled on until liquidated in 1934.


1851 – 1852 –  David Buchannan, Foreman, Ferguslie firebrick work (page 23)


Daily Alta California Volume 32, No 11118 dated 22 September 1880

Daily Alta California Volume 32, No 11118 dated 22 September 1880



1865 – 1866 –  Brown, Robert, manufacturer of patent machine made bricks, drain pipes and tiles, Caledonia and Short- roods Works; and of fire bricks, patent sewer pipes, &c., Ferguslie Fire-clay Works — town office, Sneddon Bridge — residence, Underwood Park


1878 – R Brown & Son, Firebrick manufacturers, 158 Eglington Street, Glasgow


Ferguslie Fire-Clay Works. These extensive works were established in 1839, and are carried on by Messrs. Robert Brown and Son. The productions are mainly chimney shafts in great variety and of good design, sewage pipes and sanitary goods of all kinds, garden vases and tazzae, flower boxes, suspenders, fern and flower stands, &c. of various designs ; statuary, both single figures and groups, architectural enrichments, pedestals, brackets, garden edgings, fire and other bricks and tiles, copings, finials, &c. Shortroods and Caledonia Works. These are brick and tile works connected with the Ferguslie Works of Messrs. Robert Brown and Co. Paisley Earthenware Works. Messrs. Robert Brown and Co.established these works in 1876, and at them produce white enamelled earthenware goods of a similar quality to those of Staffordshire. Their principal productions are cabinet stands and lavatories of every requisite shape both for domestic and shop fittings, plug basins, pans, and other sanitary appliances, baths of every kind (a speciality being the larger baths, five feet six inches in length, a size rarely attempted in earthenware), washing tubs, sinks, &c., plumber’s fittings, wash hand-table tops, with and without toilet ware, plain and coloured pavement and wall tiles, &c. Crown Works. At the Crown Crucible Works, belonging to Messrs. Robert Brown and Son, plumbago crucibles and kindred goods are manufactured. The marks are a crown and name, BROWN PAISLEY, and a crucible within an oval border surmounted by a crown.


1882 – Robert Brown & Son, Ferguslie Fire Clay Works, Paisley. Office Abercorn Bridge


Below – 11/03/1896 – Glasgow Herald – sale of field drain pipe, tile and common brick makers plant at the late Robert Browns Brick Works, Shortroods, Paisley

1896 – 1897 – Brown, Robert, & Son, Ferguslie Fireclay Works, Paisley, manufacturers of specially glazed fireclay pipes and traps, sinks and washing tubs in white enamel, superior brown glaze, double dipped vitrified and fine yellow glaze, with enamelled supports or pedestals for same, white and coloured enamel bricks of superior lustre and finish, doable dipped vitrified bricks, and all articles made of fireclay of the most superior quality and finish ; Glasgow depot and office, 360 Eglinton St. ; Telegraphic address, ” Shortroods,” Glasgow ; telephone No. 3498.

Brown, Robert, & Son, the Paisley Sanitary Earthen- ware Works, Paisley, manufacturers of sanitary and plumbers’ earthenware of every description, including cabinet-stands, lavatories, plug basins, baths, urinals, sinks, wash-down and wash-out closets in ordinary style and pedestal form, all of the most improved and recent designs, and of the finest quality ; also, glazed earthenware wall tiles in all sizes and colours, coloured enamelled tiles, and patent glazed earthenware tiles for ceilings ; Glasgow depot and office, 360 Eglinton street’ Telegraphic address, ” Shortroods,” Glasgow ; telephone No. 3498.


1935 – Many thanks to Gordon Alexander for the following photos from a 1935 Sanitary Earthenware Catalogue Robert Brown Ferguslie Works Paisley.

Photos to follow



Asscociated Clay Industries, makers of sanitary ware formed in 1926. By 1936 they own W.R.Pickup, John Crankshaw Co and Robert Brown & Son.

30/07/1936 – Glasgow Herald – article on Associated Clay Industries Ltd and the progress of constituent businesses…..In December 1934 we bought the business of Robert Brown & Son Ltd of Paisley and during the 18 months we have had this business under our control we have made the necessary alterations in the works and been able to improve production and restore the good name which used always to be attached to this firm for sanitaryware earthenware.


April 1959 – New Owners for Scots Works

William Baird & Co. Ltd. of Glasgow, have acquired through their subsidiary J & R Howie Ltd., Hurlford Clayworks, Kilmarnock, the Ferguslie Works at Paisley of Association Clay Industries Ltd.  J & R Howie will carry on manufacture of vitreous China and earthenware sanitary products at the Ferguslie works as well as maintaining their own Kilmarnock plant.

Associated Clay Industries Ltd took over the older Ferguslie works which were founded in 1836 as “Brown’s Brickworks” after the name of the founder Mr. Robert Brown.

Since they took over in 1934. Associated Clay Industries have done a considerable amount of improvement work at Ferguslie and modernised considerably in 1947.  Modernisation of their four other plants was also needed but because of restricted trading and lack of prospects new capital was not raised and in September of last year a receiver was appointed.


24/03/1971 – The Glasgow Herald – Paisley loses a landmark – Paisley lost a landmark yesterday when the oldest industrial chimney in the town was demolished. The demolition of the chimney at Browns Brickworks on the south side of the main road between Paisley and Elderslie, was carried out by the steeplejack firm of Redmond Bros who used explosives to bring it down. The chimney built in 1837 was originally 286 feet high but over the years the height was reduced. Latterly it had become a danger. The site is now used by industrial and commercial concerns.


This is a link to all Robert Brown related posts on my site

Similar articles