04/07/1939 – The Scotsman – Lanark County Council has been given notice by H. M. Inspector of Mines of the abandonment of the following mines … Lauchope Mills Mine Chapelhall, belonging to the Bonnybridge Silica and Fireclay Co, Ltd, Bonnybridge.
Roughcastle Fireclay Mine, Bonnybridge, Falkirk, Stirlingshire.
See also the Roughcastle Fireclay Works, Bonnybridge, Falkirk, Stirlingshire
Company names(S): Campbell & Co.; Dougall & Sons
Dyson Refractories: J. & R. Howie
Site names(S): Roughcastle Fireclay works
Address: Roughcastle Fireclay Works, Bonnybridge
Company history: – The site opened as a coal mine in 1889 under the ownership of James Campbell. In 1892 Campbell & Company began making bricks and two years later. A. Towers, (See under Grahamston Brickworks) became a principal partner in the firm. In 1927 Campbell allowed the other partners to buy him out and by 1947 the firm was a limited company. In 1965 the brickworks were sold to Dougall & Son, ostensibly as a result of the latters’ interest in the high-quality fireclay that was available from the Roughcastle Fireclay Mine which was attached to the brickworks. There is, however, a story of a disagreement between Dougalls and Campbells over water rights. Initially, neither firm was interested in the stream that crossed their lands, but once steam engines came into use, both wanted the rights to the stream.
Today the site is owned by Dyson Refractories, although bricks have not been produced there since 1964. Mining activities continued until 1980, the clay being used to supply their works at Bonnyside.
Transport facilities: – The works had their own railway siding which adjoined the main Edinburgh/Glasgow line. Lorries eventually took over from the waggons used for local transport. In the actual works, barrows were used prior to the introduction of fork-lift trucks.
Markets: – Exported to Canada (St. Lawrence and Newfoundland), Burma (500 tons a month for use in the rice fields), Scandanavia and Mauritius.
Labour conditions: – When the works were first opened a considerable proportion of women were employed, but over the years their number declined. Prior to the establishment of the National Health Service, each worker had contributed 2d to the company doctor. At this time the works also lacked a union and a pension and sickness scheme. However, prior to the work’s closure, most employees belonged either to the Amalgamated Union of Engineers or the Trades and General Workers Union. Before the Second World War the average employee was paid 11 ½ d per hour, and in a 48 hour week made approximately £2.11s.0d. The pay varied little according to skill, and most of the workforce was semi-skilled.
Some housing was provided, for example, for the foreman, but this was not a general policy.
No training or apprentice scheme existed, and the works employed a team specifically for essential maintenance.
Raw materials: – Fireclay was mined at the company’s own mine situated on the opposite side of the main Edinburgh – Glasgow railway line. Three types of clay were mined at Roughcastle: Glenfuir, Low Stone and Slanty. The latter is one of the most expensive forms of clay found in Europe. The mine is one of the oldest in the area, but the present sears were opened in approximately 1935. The clay was obtained by the “stoop and room” method, partly because the firm was obliged to limit its extraction rate. Today, however, working has ceased. (See Roughcastle Fireclay Mine).
Processes: – The works started out with one bee-hive kiln (down-draught and coal-fired) and all brickmaking was done by hand. The huge demand for railway bricks prior to the First World War resulted in the six hand moulders already employed being supplemented by a moulding machine. During the depression of the 1930s two more Belgian kilns (oil-fired) were installed, and the works became capable of producing 1500 tons of bricks per month. By 1965 the works had acquired three more kilns, three pan sills and a plastic machine.
Products and trade names: – Refractory bricks only.
Founder James Campbell.
The mine is one of the oldest in the area and although the present excavations were begun in the 1930s, older workings date back much earlier. Both coal and clay were mined on the site, which extends over an area of 120 acres. The mine was originally opened to supply clay to the Roughcastle Fireclay Works and was usually under the same ownership as the brickworks. Before its closure in the summer of 1981 the mine was owned by Dyson Refractories and supplied their Bonnyside works.
The mine was approximately 100 feet deep. It was worked on the Stoop and Room method, largely because the firm was legally bound to extract only 40% of the clay available. Coal was also worked in 9 to 10-inch seams. The mine was not pumped as water drained naturally into an old shaft. Clay and coal were mined manually. The clay was removed by haulage and the coal was winched to the surface. The roof of the mine was sandstone and therefore required very little support.
Output per day in 1979 – coal – 20 tons and clay – 95 tons.
Since the mine was not automated, most of the men employed in it when it closed were over 50 years old – younger men did not have the skills required. In 1979 the labour force consisted of
1 Pithead man, 4 Miners, 2 Underground workers, 1 Developer, 2 Labourers, 1 Engineer, 1 Electrical Engineer and 1 Deputy Shot Fixer.
Tests were taken every day for gas. The level in the mine was normally 1 – 2% but if it rose to 14 – 15% there was a high risk of explosion. The mine was self-ventilating and therefore no pumps were needed to pump the air through.
3 types of clay were mined at Roughcastle. Glenfiur, Low Stone and Slanty. The latter is one of the most expensive forms of clay found in Europe. (This is slightly different information from the first part of this post) – Source Falkirk Archives.
21/05/ 1930 – Falkirk Herald – Fire Clay Pit Fatality – While, at work in the Roughcastle Fireclay Mine, Camelon, Falkirk, a clay miner named George Neilson (31), residing at Lock 10, Camelon, was killed as the result of being caught under a fall of- material from the roof. Deceased was loading a hutch with clay when there was a fall of material, and Neilson was completely covered by debris weighing about 30 cwts. He survived only a few minutes. [Scotsman 12 April 1930].
29/01/1938 – Falkirk Herald – Wanted Fireclay miners or brushers. Good wages to suitable men. Apply Manager, Roughcastle Mine, Falkirk.
19/10/1946 – Falkirk Herald – Fireclay Miners wanted. Good wages. Apply Mine Manager, Roughcastle Mine, Camelon.
22/02/1947 – Falkirk Herald – Fireclay miners and drawers wanted. Good wages. Apply Manager, Roughcastle, Camelon, Falkirk.
24/04/1948 – Falkirk Herald – Fireclay miners and drawers wanted by Campbell & Co, Roughcastle Fire Brick Works, near Camelon. Good ton rate wages. Apply to the manager.
1896 – Roughcastle Mine – Campbell & Co, Falkirk. T W Howie Manager – employ 6 men underground, 2 over
1908 – Roughcastle Mine – Campbell & Co, Roughcastle, Falkirk. T W Howie Manager – employ 12 men underground, 1 over
1918 – Roughcastle Mine – Campbell & Co, Roughcastle, Falkirk. William Durney Manager – employ 21 men underground, 3 over
1945 – Roughcastle Mine No 2 – Campbell & Co, Roughcastle, Falkirk. Alex Scobie Manager – employ 9 men underground, 2 over