Smith and Wellstood Limited, Foundry Brickworks, Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire

Smith & Wellstood Brickworks, Bonnybridge – This was a huge company. The details here are predominantly confined to the companies brick manufacturing business by which they appear to have made fire bricks solely for their own use.

The company was incorporated in 1887 and specialised in making solid fuel cookers after the American style stove & range manufacturers. Their ESSE brand cooker became famous and was exported all over the world. Firebrick tiles to line the fireboxes were made in their own brickworks which was started in 1892. They had 3 kilns of about 20 tons capacity each which were expanded to 40-ton capacity each after the 1939 – 45 war. The brickworks closed in the 1970s. – source The Scottish Refractory Industry 1830 – 1980.

Grace’s Guide.

Below – 31/12/1873 – Dublin Daily Express – Smith and Wellstoods ‘Victoress’ stoves. Dublin agent. A large stock of firebrick linings and fittings for all American stoves and boilers are always on hand.

31/01/1884 – Dundee Courier – Sanitary and Health Appliances Exhibition, Dundee … One of the most interesting features of the Exhibition will be found the large and varied collection of cooking and heating stoves and kitchen ranges. The exhibits in this department show the most recent improvements both in fires and stoves. The principal exhibitors are Messrs Smith & Wellstood, Glasgow, who exhibit American cooking stoves in different styles. The ovens are all fitted up with non-conductor doors, and the fires are lined with fire bricks, which retain the heat and economises the fuel …

31/01/1885 – Falkirk Herald – State of trade – The firm of Smith and Wellstood of the Columbian Stove Works, on account of the dullness of the stove trade have been compelled to part with between 20 and 30 hands, embracing moulders, labourers and others.

1887 – Company incorporated?

05/03/1892 – Falkirk Herald – Last week ground was broken for the erection of a new brickwork for the firm of Smith & Wellstood here. Being manufacturers of all kinds of stoves, ranges, grates, and mantels, the above farm have resolved to build a factory for the production of bricks for their own purposes. The ground on which the new works are to be reared is that field adjoining the firm’s new gas works, and already bunding operations have been commenced.

18/06/1892 – Falkirk Herald – The new brickwork, erected by the firm of Smith & Wellstood, is so far completed as to be able to start the manufacture of the various clay products.

20/10/1900 – Falkirk Herald – A comprehensive article about the history of the smith and Wellstood company … The firm also makes its own gas and its own bricks does enamelling, nickel-plating and electro-bronzing …

05/01/1901 – Falkirk Herald – The years trade at the foundries. The year was one of steady prosperity at the Columbian Stove Works and Bonnybridge Foundry with trade of such variety as that done by Smith & Wellstood (Ltd.), developments and improvements are constantly being made in order to retain the position they occupy in the markets of the world. Famed for their stove products is not surprising to find that a large portion of the firm’s manufactures find their way abroad. In addition to American stoves, the firm produces ranges, registers, rain-water goods, and general castings. The firm has warehouses in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, and Dublin. Besides iron founding, the firm manufactures its own stove and register bricks, and, in addition to their own ceramics, they also supply gas to the town of Bonnybridge. Recently the firm opened premises in their work for an art school, which is being attended with results …

20/10/1917 – Falkirk Herald – Workers wages – arbiters awards. There has been received from the Ministry of Labour copies of awards by Professor Irvine, Aberdeen on the claims of female workers against the following Bonnybridge firms:- Messrs Smith and Wellstood, Gillespie (Limited), the Stirlingshire Iron and Stove Company, and Lane and Girvan. The following are the awards; (1)women employed in fitting shops, brass finishing shops, and smith shop departments, 6s per week; (2) in all other departments than the above, women over 18, 4s and women under 18 2s 6d per full ordinary week; (3) pieceworkers in departments other than the fitting, brass, and smith shops to be paid at the rate of 4s or 2s 6d over and above the weekly earnings calculated on the present basis;  (4) the bonus of 1s 6d paid to continue, where bonus less than 1s 6d is paid to be raised to that amount. In addition, Professor Irvine has awarded 4s per week to women workers in Messrs Smith and Wellstood’s brickworks, with similar applying pieceworkers and bonus paid in the above awards. The awards come into operation as from and including October 1, 1917.

Below – 18/02/1924 – Smith and Wellstood invoice.

Smith and Wellstood invoice 2

20/11/1926 – Falkirk Herald – Andrew Duncan, Jun., iron grinder, Broomhill, Bonnybridge, was fined 30s, which was paid at the bar, for stealing 56lb. of coal from the Bonnybridge Foundry Brickworks, Bonnybridge, occupied by Messrs Smith & Wellstood.

Below – 05/11/1928 – Smith and Wellstood invoice.

smith wellstood

Below – 28/09/1931 – Smith and Wellstood invoice.

Smith and Wellstood invoice

26/12/1931 – Falkirk Herald – A pleasant little ceremony took place within the brickworks of Messrs Smith and Wellstood Ltd., on Thursday at the dinner hour when Miss Elizabeth Rodgers was met by her fellow workers and was presented with a beautiful mantel clock to mark the occasion of her forthcoming marriage. Before making the presentation, Mr John Ferguson paid tribute to Miss Rodgers’ popularity amongst the employees, and, on their behalf expressed sincere wishes for her future happiness and prosperity. Miss Rodgers made suitable acknowledgement.

20/04/1935 – Falkirk Herald – The workers of Messrs Smith & Wellstood’s brickwork assembled during the lunch hour last Friday to honour one of their number, Miss Nellie Nicol on the occasion of her approaching marriage. Mr John Ferguson, a fellow worker, presided, and on behalf of the employees presented Miss Nicol with a beautiful chiming mantel clock of modern design, together with a dainty crystal marmalade dish. Briefly, he commented upon the good feeling existing in the work and expressed the subscribers’ wishes for the recipient’s future happiness and prosperity. Miss Nicol suitably acknowledged the gifts.

20/03/1937 – Falkirk Herald – Wanted four first-class patternmakers,  experienced in wood, tin and stucco. Apply, by letter, to the manager, Smith & Wellstood. Ltd., Bonnybridge.

01/03/1941 – Falkirk Herald – Wanted. Working under-foreman for brickworks manufacturing 150 tons of range bricks per month. Apply by letter, stating age and qualifications, to the Manager, Smith & Wellstood, Ltd., Bonnybridge.

05/04/1941 – Falkirk Herald – Wanted. Kilnburner, experienced man required. Apply to the brickworks foreman, Smith & Wellstood, Ltd., Bonnybridge.

Below – 24/10/1944 and 30/10/1944 – 2 x invoices from Bonnybridge Silica & Fireclay Co Ltd to Smith & Wellstood for ganister. ( Note – SBH – Many thanks to Jim Old for forwarding these).

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29/12/1945 – Falkirk Herald – The brickworkers of Smith & Wellstood, Ltd., held a dance and reunion social evening in Wellstood Welfare Hall on Thursday of last week. A happy evening was spent with dancing and games, music being supplied by Mr W. Mair and Mr D. Cooper as M.C. During an interval the company sat down to a daintily served tea. Mr J. C. Leith, who very ably discharged the duties of chairman, was accompanied at the top table by Mrs Leith, Mrs Arthur, Miss Arthur, Mr and Mrs A. Forsyth and Mr and Mrs W. Boak. During the evening several games and novelty dances were held, and included in the winners were:—Mr and Mrs T. Smith, Mrs Blair, Miss Eliz. Johnstone and Mr J. Cairns. Mr W. Boak proposed votes of thanks to Mr Leith and to all who had assisted in any way. Credit for much of the success of the evening goes to Miss Marsella and her committee, who were unsparing in their efforts. The proceeds are to be handed over to Wellstood Welfare Comforts Fund.

06/04/1946 – Falkirk Herald – The employees of Messrs Smith & Wellstood, Ltd., Brickwork, saw Peter Pan at the Royal Theatre, Glasgow.

10/08/1946 – Falkirk Herald – On Saturday the brickwork employees of Messrs Smith & Wellstood, Ltd., made the long trip to Aberdeen. A halt for breakfast was made at Dundee, and Aberdeen was reached at 12.30 p.m. The return journey was commenced at 5.15 p.m. with Meigle the stopping place for high tea. The party arrived home at 11.30 p.m. after a long but most enjoyable day.

24/08/1946 – Falkirk Herald – Brickmaker wanted, with experience in the manufacture of fireclay chair bricks. Apply Brickworks Manager, Smith & Wellstood, Ltd., Bonnybridge. (Note – SBH – chair bricks aka firebacks).

15/02/1947 – Falkirk Herald – Two marriage presentations took place within the works of Messrs Smith and Wellstood, Ltd., this week. The recipients were Miss Jane Cruse, Enamelling Department and Mr James Hart, Brickwork, the gifts being handed over by Mr T. R. Goodwin and Mr W. Boak, respectively.

07/06/1947 – Falkirk Herald – A pleasant little presentation ceremony took place in the brickwork of Messrs Smith & Wellstood, ltd., last Friday when Miss C. Muir was made the recipient of a fireside chair on the occasion of her forthcoming marriage. The gift was handed over by Mr W. Boak, and Miss Muir made a suitable reply. Another similar presentation took place the same day, in this instance in the offices of the company. The recipient was Miss R. Esplin, who received a display cabinet, the gift being handed over by Mr R. A. Henderson. Miss Esplin suitably replied.

09/08/1947 – Falkirk Herald – Jobbing moulders required; good wages and conditions; permanent employment offered to capable men. Apply Smith & Wellstood, Ltd., Bonnybridge.

23/04/1949 – Falkirk Herald – Foreman required to take charge of brickworks producing 70/75 tons of range and stove bricks per week; the appointment is subject to acceptance of a contributory superannuation scheme. Apply giving details of age, experience and salary expected to Smith and Wellstood Ltd, Ironfounders, Bonnybridge.

04/02/1950 – Falkirk Herald – Shorthand typist wanted immediately. Apply, stating age, experience, etc., to Miss Humphreys, c/o Smith & Wellstood, Ltd., Bonnybridge.

08/04/1950 – Falkirk Herald – Kiln burner wanted. Good prospects and steady employment for an experienced man. Apply brickworks manager, Smith and Wellstood Limited, Bonnybridge.

10/06/1950 – Falkirk Herald – Boy age 15-16, required to train as an Analytical Chemist in Works Laboratory. Reply, giving full particulars of education, etc., to Works Manager, Smith & Wellstood, Ltd., Bonnybridge, Stirlingshire.

07/10/1950 – Falkirk Herald – Brickmaker wanted. Steady employment for suitable man. Bricklayer also wanted. Preferably with some refractory experience. Apply Brickwork Manager, Smith & Wellstood, Ltd., Bonnybridge.

14/07/1951 – Falkirk Herald – Wood wanted to build a greenhouse A married man with a family of five, Robert Moffat (41), foreman labourer, 13 Wartland Square, Bonnybridge, will lose the job he has held with a Bonnybridge firm since 1935, and, in all probability, the house that goes with it, because of a theft he committed on Tuesday night. The materials stolen from the foundry brickworks of his employers, Smith & Wellstood, Ltd., iron founders, Bonnybridge – five wooden battens, and an enamelled backplate from the scrap heap were worth only £2 7s 4d. This was stated at Falkirk J.P. Court on Wednesday when Moffat, and a 41-years-old bus driver, Joseph Pryde Bloy, Hollings Cottage, Torwood, Larbert, each admitted the theft. Messrs W. R. Campbell (presiding) and R. Wilson were on the bench. Mr J. A. Bell, J.P. Fiscal, said that a lorry belonging to Bloy’s brother was seen standing on a vacant piece of ground near the foundry. The police were informed and two constables kept watch. Bloy was seen carrying a batten towards the lorry. When he saw the police, he dropped it and made off. He was known by sight, however, and was later apprehended. Mr George Muir, solicitor. Falkirk, for accused, said Moffat wanted the wood to build a greenhouse. Bloy was also married with two children. Both accused were fined 10s. with the alternative of five days’ imprisonment. Eight days were allowed for payment of the fines.

28/02/1953 – Falkirk Herald – Mrs Cullen and family wish to thank all relatives, friends, neighbours and fellow workers of Smith & Wellstood’s and Glenyards Brickworks for kind expressions of sympathy and floral tributes received in their recent sad bereavement

07/03/1953 – Falkirk Herald – Bricklayers – Two men are required for maintenance work, experience in fireclay work would be an advantage. Full employment guaranteed.

04/12/1954 – Falkirk Herald – At the tea break, last Friday, Miss Agnes Laird, 1 Thornton Avenue, was met by members of Bonnybridge Foundry Brickwork Department and presented with a wristlet watch and diamante brooch on the occasion of her leaving the firm after thirty-three years’ service to take up other employment. Mr Boak, manager, in handing over the gifts, wished Agnes success in her new job. Miss Laird suitably replied.

1973Smith and Wellstood Ltd were taken over by the Kent-based Dint Engineering Group.


John Campbell Leith, born 1903 in Kilsyth began working in Smith and Wellstood’s in 1917 as an apprentice pattern maker. He entered management in 1926. He became the company draughtsman/designer then production manager and eventually the works manager/director.

The raw materials were acquired from Dougall’s and Bonnybridge Silica Brickworks. Mined clay was bought. The workforce consisted of 30 girls and 12 men who punched clay into moulds. Mr Leith described the brickworks as resembling the ‘Roman Baths’. Green bricks were laid on the floor to harden them and were fired for 4 1/2 days. The result was a brownish, yellow biscuit-coloured brick.

The furnace bricks were bought from Steins. These had a high refractory value and would stand up to a terrific heat. they were of very high quality and therefore expensive.

The output depended on demand and varied between 40 – 55 tons per week.

Smith and Wellstoods Iron Founders had their own brickworks, but they produced only building bricks and got their refractory bricks from Steins. When the foundries closed, the brickmakers market was reduced considerably. Smith and Wellstoods closed about c. 1959 (?) – Source Falkirk Museum and Archives.

Harley Marshall, who started work at the Castlecary Works in 1949 states that he and a colleague remember Stein supplying Smith and Wellstood firebricks in the 1960s and 1970s. They recall this was an intermittent supply of moderate orders. They also supplied fireclay putty too.

Below – So is this ‘S & W’ actually made by Stein for Smith and Wellstood?

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