Scottish Employers’ Council for the Clay Industries.

The Scottish Employers’ Council for the Clay Industries.

The intervention by the government during the war in fixing prices and directing which customers should receive bricks, together with the claims of miners and other workers for higher wages, led many employers to realise the need to combine to argue their case. Mr Stein and Mr William Douglas of the Douglas Firebrick Company took the initiative in Scotland to persuade other clay users to join together and found the SECCI in 1917. Mr Stein became the first President until his death in 1927, when his son, Alan Stein took over till 1931. Mr Douglas then served till 1934. The number of firms varied over the years but usually was about fifty. They were divided into refractory, building brick, and clayware pipe sections. In the early days following the government’s fixing of prices, the Council also fixed prices, and Mr Stein made sure that Thistle and Glenboig sold at the same price. The competition was on quality and he was sure he had the edge on that.

In the post-1939-45 war, period price fixing became unlawful but the Council still had to negotiate wages and discuss many other matters so that the industry’s views could be put to government departments. James Wilson, as SECCI secretary, co-ordinated these matters until his retiral in May 1960, when Bill Stevens took over.

One useful initiative was the standardisation of brick sizes, at the surprisingly high number of 108. The common size is 9 x 4 ½ x 3 inches. However, each length of 9’ requires a breadth of 4 ½”, 6’ and 9’. Lengths based on 12’, 13 ½”, 15’, and 18’ require similar breadths. All these lengths and breadths require side arch and end arch tapers varying by 1/8’. Finally, the thickness can vary from 3’, 2 ½’, 2’, 1 ½’, and ½’. If you add up all these sizes and leave out a few because they are not too much in demand you will come to over a hundred sizes. It was still a big improvement on the previous practice. The names of such series of sizes varies in different parts of the country, but in Scotland, they include squares, scones, pups, whelps, soaps, bullnoses, feathers, and cupolas amongst others. Source Kenneth Sanderson

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