Westbank brick and tile works, Portobello

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West Bank Old brick and Tile Works, Portobello, Edinburgh and Esperston, Midlothian

1770  – Westbank pottery was erected for Anthony Hillcoat

1803 – Hillcoat died. The business was taken son and son in law. Roof and drain tile were the initial products.

1825 – 1826 – D. McEwing, Brick and Tile Manufacturer, West Bank, Portobello

1825 – 1826 – Alex Guthrie, Brick and Tile Manufacturer, West Bank, Portobello.  Mr Alexander Guthrie, at one time a clerk to the Court of Judiciary. He was also at one time a bookseller in Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, and being in good circumstances he made a considerable addition to Westbank House. After his death the business was carried on, but with indifferent success, by his son — William Guthrie — who ultimately gave it up, and the works stood idle for some time.

20/02/1835 – The Glasgow Herald – Brick Work at Rosebank, Portobello (Westbank?)
rosebank brick works portobello

1847 – a lease of the place was acquired by Mr George Ingram who conducted it with great vigor till his death in 1867?. Mr Ingram, who belonged to Selkirk, where he was born in 1810, is described as ”a man of generous sympathies and superior intellectual endowments.” He was a teacher by profession, being a master in the Academy, Davie Street, Edinburgh, which he left in 1837 to be clerk to the Misses Creelman, the then lessees of the Abercom Brick Works, an office which he held for about ten years, until he started for himself at Westbank. During this period, the building trade being brisk, and there being a large demand for bricks, the works were highly remunerative, and Mr Ingram amassed a considerable sum of money. On Ingram’s death the works were carried on under the management of Mr William Hunter for behoof of his son, Alexander Ingram, and eventually on his own account. But a time of depression in the building trade having ensued, and prices not yielding a remunerative return, he renounced the lease of the place in 1880. After standing some years idle Westbank was re-opened by Mrs Brodie Sherriff from Dunbar in 1884

1842 – 1843 – Ingram, George, Clerk, Abercorn brickworks

1854 – 1855 – Westbank brick and tile works, Portobello.

1855 – 1856 – Geo Ingram,  Westbank brick and tile works, Portobello.

Below – 06/10/1859 – Southern Reporter – Delays in the transport of drain pipes from Ingram’s Tile Works, Portobello to the Borders. Railway at fault.

Below – 1853 – Westbank Brick and Tile Works.

(1857 – John Milner West Bank Brickworks, Edinburgh – West Calder???)

1867 –  Geo Ingram, Brick and Tile Maker, Portobello

1870 – 1871 – W Hunter & Co, Westbank brick and tile works, Portobello. p53

26/06/1873 – Southern Reporter – Messrs William Hunter & Co, brick and tile manufacturers, Westbank, Portobello were charged with illegally employing three young persons under the age of eighteen without having previously entered their names and without having obtained surgical certificates. They pleaded guilty and were fined £6.

19/08/1880 – Edinburgh Evening News – Margaret Catlidge, aged 17 , a worker at Messrs Hunter & Co’s brickworks, Portobello and residing at  N0 4 Ramsay Lane had her left hand severely crushed by a brick stamp descending on it while engaged at the works, this forenoon about 11 o’clock. She is under treatment at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Below – 15/11/1882 – The Scotsman –  West Bank brick and tile works, Portobello to let.

24/05/1884 – Portobello Advertiser – The remaining stock in trade etc at West Bank Brick Work, Portobello will be sold by Public roup on Tuesday May 27, 1884 consisting of sanitary pipes (various sizes), chimney cans, gas retorts, agricultural drain pipes, circular fire bricks and a lot of miscellaneous goods ALSO 3 close carts, 2 long carts, navvy barrows, dry brick barrows, 4 dry brick bogies, hand barrows, lot of blacksmith and joiners tools, pair of new bellows, and pavement pressing machine (Ralstons Patent), centrifugal pump, stucco moulds etc etc.

06/04/1885 – The Scotsman – Brick machine (Ralstons patent) may be seen at Westbank Brickworks, Portobello. M.Brodie Sherriff, Dunbar.

15/09/1885 – The Scotsman – Portobello Valuation Appeal Court – A valuation Appeal Court for the burgh of Portobello was held yesterday – Provost Christian presiding. Miss M.Brodie Sheriff (Sherriff) appealed against an entry of £160 as the assessable value of West Bank Brick Work. It appeared that the works were let for a period of ten years at a rent of £160, a special rent of £120 being charged this year on account of the tenants repairs. These were rendered necessary on account of the Works having been 2 years unoccupied. The assessor said the landlord had simply allowed £40 to be deducted from the rent. The appeal was dismissed.

Below – 1886 – Advert for MB Sherriff

1886 brodie sherriff seafield dunbar westbank portobello

1890 – Peter Mitchell took over the firm – bricks, tiles, drain pipes and terracotta were all manufactured and  are developing the trade on the old lines — bricks, tiles, and drain pipes forming a prominent feature of their manufacture, while pottery ware for gardens, such as flower pots, vases, and ornamental jars in terra cotta are made in considerable quantity. The bricks, as in Abercom Works, are dried by steam under cover — the exhaust steam from the engine, which used to be blown into the air, being utilised for this purpose — and in three days they are ready for the kiln instead of taking a month or so by the old process. The works are lighted by electricity, generated by an engine on the premises. Close upon a hundred men are employed.

Below – 1894 – West Bank Brick and Tile Works.

28/02/1896 – Glasgow Herald – In another case in the Valuation Court both the Assessor and Magistrates of Portobello scored.  The Magistrates at the local Court upheld Mr Smart’s decision, that the cost of the new Hoffman kiln for burning bricks which had been erected at Westbank should be treated as a consideration other than rent, and that he was entitled to include the amount of interest – 6 per cent. on it-in his estimate of the annual value of the property.  The proprietor and tenants did not think that it should be included in the valuation of the subjects, and accordingly got a case stated for the higher court.  In upholding the Assessor’s contention and the Magistrates’ decision, both Lord Kyllachy and Lord Moncrieff were very complimentary to the local Magistrates-and, of course, to the Town Clerk who would state the case for them.  Lord Kyllachy said they had taken the right view and expressed their judgement with great precision, while Lord Moncreiff’s observation was that the Magistrates had arrived at a sound decision.

1903 – Peter Mitchell & Sons, Westbank, Portobello

Below – 1905 – Westbank brick and tile works  – top of map and the new works are bottom left.  ( Abercorn brickworks are shown middle bottom).

 

18/05/1905 – Notice of dissolution.The Firm of Peter Mitchell & Sons, Lime Burners and Lime Merchant and Brick and Tile Manufacturers, carrying on business at Esperston, Mid Lothian, and Westbank Brick and Tile Works, Portobello, of which tho deceased John Mitchell, residing at Delta House, Inveresk, and Peter Mitchell, residing at Eskbank were the sole Partners, was dissolved, of mutual consent, as on 14th October 1904, by the retirement therefrom of the Subscribers, the Testamentary Trustees of the said deceased John Mitchell. The whole of the Trustees’ interest in the leases and assets of the dissolved Firm have been transferred to Thomas Bryson Mitchell, Coldstream Mains, Coldstream, who will carry on the Business along with the said Peter
Mitchell for their own behoof under the same Firm name of Peter Mitchell & Sons. Edinburgh, 18th May 1905.

Below – 23/09/1905 – The Scotsman – Peter Mitchell & Sons are engaged in active preparations for the transference of their brick, tile and pottery business from West Bank Brick Works to a site on the Craigentinny Farm near Portobello Railway Station where eight acres will in a few months be covered by a new range of buildings and railway sidings. The site now to be deserted has been a brickworks since the middle of the eighteenth century and will it is expected be feued for the erection of dwelling houses, the northern boundary abutting on Portobello’s extended promenade. The new works will have modern equipment with seven spacious drying sheds, three of them on two storeys.  There will be a huge fourteen chambered kiln ( Vaughan’s patent) capable of firing 20,000 bricks per day. Steam or electricity will supply the driving power for the potters wheels instead of hand labour.

Below – 1917 – 1918 – Westbank New Brick Works are shown to bottom left. (This may have been surveyed prior to 1917 and probably prior to the 1913 OS Map as the Abercorn brickworks are not depicted on the 1913 OS Map!)

1923 – 1924 – Peter Mitchell & Sons – Lessees of Esperston Lime Works, Gorebridge and West Bank brick and tile works, Portobello. TA Lime –

1936 – The works closed as the clay pit was now exhausted.

23/12/1936 – The Scotsman – Brick Works to close – Portobello firms decision  – clay field exhausted. The clay brick industry in Portobello, Edinburgh will come to an end shortly, the well known firm of Peter Mitchell & Sons (Ltd) at West Bank, Baileyfield having announced their intention of closing down before next year. The cessation of work will mean the throwing out of employment of over 70 workers but they will not all leave at the same time. Some of them will be retained to dismantle the works. Exhaustion of the clay available is the cause of the works closing at a time when there is a shortage of bricks of the type made by the firm. There is still a quantity of clay in Portobello but it cannot be worked owing to the fact that either the railway runs over it or it is built over. The field which is being closed down has lasted about 35 years. Before 1906 the firm worked a clay bed where the Edinburgh Corporation Electric Power Station now stands. They took over the works form the late Mrs Brodie Sherriff in 1890. When they removed to Fishwives Causeway at the back of the Baileyfield Locomotive Works, they erected a new up to date plant.  Since 1750 bricks have been made in the neighbourhood of Portobello and will still be made in the district. They will not however be of the clay variety but will be of a composite character. It is expected that the firm responsible for them and other Edinburgh firms will be more or less able to cope with the demand though a representative of Messrs Mitchell & Sons acknowledged yesterday that there was a shortage of bricks and that bricks were being imported into Edinburgh from the West of Scotland despite the additional cost of haulage. Messrs Mitchell & Son made tiles and pottery as well as bricks and their decision to go out of existence will be a decided blow to industrial Portobello.

27/02/1937 – The Scotsman – Westbank brick and tile and pottery works Portobello. Sale  – Messrs P Mitchell & Sons Ltd, Portobello

1937-westbank-brick-works-portobello-for-sale

Below – 1938 – Westbank brick and tile works.

 

 

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