Wallhouse Fireclay Mine, Torphicen, Bathgate, West Lothian

c. 1962 – The mine was started by John G Stein and Co to produce fireclay for the Manuel Works at Whitecross.

11/09/1964 – West Lothian Courier – John G Stein and Co Ltd, Wallhouse Clay Mine, Torphichen. Mine roadsmen are required for clay mine. Bus fares are subsidised. Baths available. Apply to the manager.

14/04/1967 – West Lothian Courier – Gifts for heroes. An accident that might have ended in tragedy was climaxed with a happy ending last Wednesday when two clay mine employers in West Lothian received a presentation for their part in rescuing a colleague trapped in a fireclay in a hopper one morning last month.

The two employees are 16-year-old labourer Alexander Black, Wallhouse Farm, Torphichen and lorry driver Mr W. Parker, both employees at Wallhouse Clay Mine near Torphichen, operated by John G Stein and Co Ltd, Refractories Manufacturers, Manuel Works, Linlithgow.

On 15th March Alexander Robertson, (50), of 9 North Gate, Torphichen who is employed as a surface foreman was engaged with young Black on maintenance work on the hopper at the mine. While working, a long poker they were using to free the clay in the hopper slipped into the hopper and both went down to retrieve it.

Seconds later a lorry arrived at the mine to uplift a load of fireclay. Unaware that Robertson and Black were inside the hopper, the driver, Mr Parker, drove the lorry under the hopper and pulled the lever which released the door of the hopper to load his lorry.

The tool Robertson had sought to retrieve and his abnormal height ( he is 6 ft 3 in) probably saved his life because the poker jammed between the side of the hopper and as he fell, the feet being taken from him as fireclay cascaded through the hopper door into the lorry, he grabbed the poker and held onto it.

Alerted by shouts from the trapped men, Parker closed the door. A new danger then threatened Robertson as the closing of the hopper door caused the clay to build up within the hopper right up to his neck.

Black, being higher up than Robertson and not so heavy, was not trapped by the clay, but nevertheless, he could not escape from the chamber.

The youth undoubtedly saved Robertsons’ life by scooping clay from the trapped foreman’s nostrils and mouth with his bare hands. Mr Parker too played a part in preventing tragedy by his prompt actions in closing the door once he heard Mr Robertson and Black shout.

On Wednesday Mr Ronald Stein, managing Director of John G. Stein and Co Ltd, paid tribute to Mr Parker and young Black.

And as recognition of their rescue, he presented on behalf of the firm each with an electric clock with the inscription ” For meritorious service in rescue operations”.

It took other workers seven hours to free Robertson and at Wednesdays presentation, he thanked his rescuers by saying ” I am most grateful for all that was done”.

An Aberdeenshire man, Mr Robertson came down to West Lothian 15 years ago. In his home county, he had been engaged in the timber trade.

c. 1981 – Mine closed.

Due to the amount of clay being removed to make the Nettle brand firebricks, the Manuel mine workings were reaching a long distance. To improve ventilation and reduce the amount of time the miners took to walk to and from the face a new shaft was sunk at Compston Farm. Later another was dug at Wallhouse.

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