Winchburgh Brick, Tile and Fire Clay Works, Winchburgh, West Lothian

Winchburgh Brickworks, Winchburgh, West Lothian.


1867 – Winchburgh – A case study of village settlement in the Lothians shale field by John R. Meikle 1973 – Brickworks established? … Their demand for buildings and yards were met by the construction of the Winchburgh Brickworks in 1867 … It appears that the initial workforce of the brickworks of around 100 was mainly drawn from the reserve of underemployed women and juveniles, with full-time adult men beginning to dominate only towards the end of the century. So, apart from 6 or 7 houses built by the brickworks in their immediate surrounds, little additional residential fabric was added to the main axis of the village as a direct result of the brickworks … Dougall’s brickworks (known locally as the ‘Hotel’ because of the number of tramps using its kilns in winter for warmth) introduced machinery in 1901 to replace the former hand making process. Producing now 3,000 bricks daily, this admittedly reduced the number of women and young people employed but gave the village a sustained employment for 70-80 men for the next three decades, backing up the employment input of the oil works … But the first signs of change in the village’s employment structure came with the closure of the Brickworks in 1946 making 60 men redundant. The Edinburgh building firm of Miller & Sons attempted to restart production later but failed after two years of operation …

1869 – Alexander Dougal  & Son, brick & fire-clay goods merchants, 19 Port Hamilton & 100 Fountain Bridge.

23/09/1869 – Falkirk Herald – Roofing tiles, first-class also drain pipes of all sizes. Prices moderate. Alexander Dougall, Blackness and Winchburgh Tileworks, Linlithgow.

Below – 20/04/1872 – Falkirk Herald – Sheriff Court Linlithgow. Important decision – McAlley v Dougal.

22/02/1873 – Falkirk Herald – Brickmaker wanted, a good slab moulder, 1s per 1000. Apply at Winchburgh Brickwork.

15/05/1875 – Alloa Advertiser – Deaths – At Winchburgh Brickworks on the 8th inst, Janet H Hunter, the beloved wife of Mr John Stein, in the 40th year of her age. (Note SBH – This is the same John Stein that was a partner at the Alva brickworks in 1868 and the father of John Gilchrist Stein).

1878 – 1879 – Alex Dougal and Son, brick, tile and fire clay manufacturer, 100 Fountain Bridge, Edinburgh.

1882 – Alexander Dougal, Brick and Tile Maker, Blackness and Winchburgh.

10/05/1883 – Southern Reporter – Fearful Death. On Wednesday night last week, a tramp who had been passing through Winchburgh called at the brickworks and asked an employee to be allowed to lie down near one of the kilns, as had no other shelter. The employee cautioned him, saying that the place was very hot, and consequently dangerous; but on the tramp urging that wished rest himself for only a couple of hours he was allowed to lie down, the result being that he fell asleep, and after a short interval his clothes caught fire. Suddenly jumping up enveloped in flames, he made frantic efforts to divest himself of his clothing, but without avail, and in a short time succumbed, dying in fearful agony.

25/07/1885 – Aberdeen Free Press – Alexander Dougal, brick and tile manufacturer – also a director of The Hermand Oil Company.

1886 – Alexander Dougal, 74 High St, Linlithgow. Works Blackness and Winchburgh.

29/10/1887 – Falkirk Herald – Winchburgh Brickworks – Labourers wanted. Apply at the works.

1889 – 1890 – Alex Dougal & Sons, brick and tile and fire clay goods manufacturers, lime and cement merchants, 100 Fountainbridge. Sole agents for Gilmour & Co, Kilmarnock, manufacturers of white and coloured enamelled bricks etc.

30/11/1889 – Falkirk Herald – Wanted an engineer (jobbing), to take charge of machinery. Apply Winchburgh Brickworks.

15/08/1891 – Falkirk Herald – Blacksmith wanted, one with some knowledge of machinery preferred; good encouragement – Winchburgh Brickworks.

02/03/1892 – Falkirk Herald – Death of Ex-Dean of Guild Dougal. The representatives of older Linlithgow are sad to state, gradually disappearing life’s busy scene. Just a fortnight ago we chronicled the death of a well-known and typical Linlithgowegian the person of Mr Wm. Liddle. We have now to record with deep regret the demise of one who was a close friend of the other, and a well known and highly respected citizen. We refer to Mr Alexander Dougal, brick manufacturer, who died at his residence on Thursday night, at the age of 64. The deceased gentleman was native of the burgh, with which his family and relations have been long connected. He was the fifth son, the eldest of the family being our respected townsman ex-Bailie Dougal. His father, Mr William Dougal, was for many years a carter or contractor in the burgh, to which he removed from Edinburgh. For upwards of twenty years, the deceased had leased the brickworks at Winchburgh from Lord Hopetoun. He was also for some years tenant of the brickworks at Blackness but relinquished the tenancy on the expiry of the lease some five years ago. Dougal was for a good many years connected with the Town Council. He was elected a Councillor of the burgh on 3rd November 1874, and on 7th November 1878, he was unanimously appointed Dean of Guild, which office he held up to 9th May 1884, when he resigned. From the date of his first entering the Council till his resignation, he was continuously re-elected as Councillor. He was a keen bowler and curler and took a warm interest in many of the institutions connected with the town. At social gatherings, his geniality and good-natured badinage was such as to make him at all times a popular guest and drew around him a large circle of friends, by whom he was esteemed and respected. Mr Dougal had been ailing for the past few months.

31/03/1892 – Edinburgh Evening News. Labourers wanted. Good men. 5d per hour. Winchburgh Brickworks.

18/02/1893 – Linlithgowshire Gazette -Theft of a dog kennel. At Linlithgow Sheriff Courton Wednesday, before Sheriff Melville, Clement Porter and Archibald Donaldson, two old worthies, canal boatmen, Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, were charged with the theft of a dog’s kennel from the garden adjoining the house at Winchburgh Brickworks, occupied by James Paul, manager. Accused denied the charge, stating that they found the kennel floating in the canal, and getting it into the boat conveyed it to Redding. Porter had sold it to a fireman there for 2s 6d, which was spent a bottle of whisky. The Sheriff found the charge against Donaldson not proven. In the passing sentence of three days’ imprisonment on Porter, his Lordship remarked that he would get no whisky during these three days at least. Prisoner, on leaving the bar, said the authorities would surely pay his expenses back to Edinburgh, on being liberated. The prisoner was surprised to hear that he had to serve his short term of imprisonment in the Calton, and would be near enough home.

14/04/1894 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Tramp nuisance. Fatal accident. At Winchburgh Brickworks Friday night, a tramp named James McEwan alias McNab, supposed to be a native of Haddington, lost his life. He and another man had lain down by the side of the kiln, which the time was half full of bricks in the process of being burned. About eleven o’clock the quantity of bricks referred to collapsed and fell upon the men, killing McEwan and seriously injuring the other man whose name is James McFarlane. Constable Frame was sent for and had the occurrence investigated. He found upon the scene seven tramps, whom he took into custody, under the Trespass Act. The men who gave their names Jas McFarlane (42), millworker; William Inglis or Wallace (57), cottier; James Chalmers (27), fireman; Peter Paterson (37), labourer; John Jackson (45), William Dingwall (50), and James Walkinshaw (38), labourers, were conveyed to Linlithgow on Saturday and charged, before Sheriff Gilkison, with loitering and lodging about the works. The first three named pleaded guilty and were fined 7s 6d or ten days’ imprisonment. The other four pleaded that they received liberty to remain about the works from one of the workmen. Evidence was adduced on Monday to clear up this point, when James Wilson, fireman to Messrs Dougal & Sons, Winchburgh, deponed that the kilns in question were on the Edinburgh Road, and they were annoyed by a great many tramps. Q. Do you ever give them liberty to remain? A. Not as a rule. On the night of the accident, not one got liberty. He did not order them away, because he knew they paid no heed to him. Q. Can you explain how this man got killed? A. So far my judgment goes, two or three bricks must have come from the top first. This would cause him to look up, and with the general collapse, he must have been smothered. The bricks were built up in the kiln in the usual way. They began with a lair (layer) of five and these were bound up by cross bricks, spaces being left between them to admit of the fire passing through them. The collapse might have occurred with the workmen (too?). The east wind which prevailed had something to with the fall. There was a little heat in the kilns, and the tramps liked to get in there. James Paul, manager, stated the building of a new kiln had brought more tramps about than usual. He first heard of the man being killed about eleven o’clock. He went down and saw the accused extracting the dead man and his companion from the debris. Q. Have you any idea how the bricks toppled off? A. The bottom of the kiln was hot, and the wind was off the east. Sometimes they do tumble down in small numbers. There were about two thousand bricks lying where the accident occurred. About three thousand bricks in all were wasted. The bricks weighed nine pounds. Constable Frame stated that he got information of this case at about eleven o’clock. He went to the brickworks at once and found in all seven tramps about. He apprehended them on the comp, guilty, and dismissed them from the bar with an admonition.

Below – 22/09/1894 – Receipt – Alex Dougal & Sons, brick, tile & fire clay goods manufacturers, stone, lime and all other building materials supplied. Depot – Port Hamilton. Cement, putty, lime-harps, hand-barrows, navvy-barrows, hods &c always in stock. Sole agents for John Gilmour & Co, Kilmarnock, manufacturers of white and coloured enamelled bricks &c. Office – 100 Fountain Bridge, Edinburgh. (Many thanks to Andrew Knight for forwarding a copy of this receipt).

01/01/1898 – West Lothian Courier – William Hunter, labourer, Niddry Rows, was charged with having on the 2nd December last at Winchburgh Brickworks, occupied by Alexander Dougal, assaulted Catherine McGuire, Greendykes Row, Broxburn, and Elizabeth Brand, Niddry Rows, both brickworkers, by seizing hold of them and beating them with his fists to the injury of their persons. The accused pleaded guilty. The Sheriff said Mr Dougal had spoken to him about the accused and said he thought if he got a chance he would not do the same again. That being so he would dismiss him.

16/07/1898 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Poorhouse inmates picnic. The inmates of the Combination Poorhouse had their annual outing on Saturday last. In two boats, kindly lent by Messrs Dougal and Sons, brick manufacturers,  Winchburgh, the inmates were conveyed by canal to Broxburn …

27/08/1898 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Assault in Winchburgh Brickworks. Alexander Greig Donaldson, brick works manager was charged with assaulting Catherine McGuire in the Winchburgh Brickworks, the property of Alexander Dougal and Sons, by seizing hold of her by the neck and pushing her with violence against the wall of the drying stove. His defence was that, on the morning in question, the girl refused to do any work, and kept others off their work. He simply took her by the arm and dragged her for two yards or so. The Sheriff said was aware that brickworkers could be aggravating when they liked, but nevertheless, the accused had no right to take the law into his own hands. The fine would be 30s, the alternative being sixteen days imprisonment.

14/01/1899 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Winchburgh Drainage. I received a complaint front Messrs Alex Dougal and Sons, Winchburgh Brickworks, the following effect: For some years a number of the proprietor’s houses in Winchburgh have been running their drainage into one of our fields near the High Road. As we are likely to be building there very shortly, this will now have to be stopped at once to give the ground time to dry. Not to inconvenience anyone and to give time to find other means of disposing of the drainage, we are willing that it should be carried further down the High Road, and into the extreme west corner of one field if you desire it. This, however, can only be temporary, as our tenant declines to take the field from us again unless it is stopped. Messrs Dougal have closed up the drain as it enters the field, and the roadman has opened a drain to the west side of their field, where it runs with Messrs Dougal’s permission. But the sewage has run down the side of the public road at present, and in consequence of this, I served notice on the whole of the tenants and the properties connected with this drain to cease using the drain if possible. I also wrote to the proprietors asking if they were ready to provide other means of drainage. Only one of these proprietors, however, is in a position to provide a proper outlet for the drain, while the others are content to leave the matter in the hands of the Local Authority. The only method of disposing of the sewage, in this case, is either to use it for irrigation before discharging into the Myre Burn, to carry it to the Niddry Burn. As either of these methods would entail the formation of a special drainage district, the question arises whether the whole part of the village should be included in the area to be drained. This matter is for the district to decide. The meeting, after considering the foregoing report, was of opinion that there was no call for the remarks regarding the infectious diseases referred to by the inspector. As regarded the Linlithgow Combination Poorhouse, the committee saw no occasion for interposing in the meantime as it was stated that the House Committee proposed connecting the drainage of the house with the burgh drainage so soon as that had been introduced. As to the Winchburgh drainage proposals, it was remitted to Mr Ralston and Mr Armour to inquire and report as to the most suitable method of disposing of the sewage. This was all the business.

04/06/1902 – Edinburgh Evening News – Burner for Hoffman kiln. Apply Winchburgh Brickworks.

1903 – Alexander Dougal & Sons, 74 High St  Linlithgow; works, Winchburgh S.O.

26/06/1903 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Foreman to take charge of clay hole. To thoroughly competent good man good wages will be given. Winchburgh Brickworks.

13/12/1905 – The Scotsman – Agricultural tiles, all sizes to all stations. Alex Dougal & Sons, Brick and Tile Works, Winchburgh.

28/08/1908 – Linlithgowshire Advertiser – Machinery breakdown at brickwork. The employees of the brickwork have been thrown idle for a week owing to the shaft of one of the engines breaking.

23/10/1908 – West Lothian Courier – Burglary between Monday night and Tuesday morning, 19th and 20th … on the same night the office at Winchburgh Brickworks owned by Messrs Dougal & Son, Linlithgow was forcibly entered by means of the gable window, the snib having been forced. The thieves however got nothing for their pains.

28/10/1911 – Invoice – Alexr Dougal & Sons, Winchburgh Brick Tile and Fire Clay Works, Winchburgh. Edinburgh depot – 100 Fountainbridge. Fire clay goods of every description, lime, cement, putty, barrows and all other building material kept in stock.

12/09/1913 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – The Winchburgh tragedy. Children’s bodies are found in Hopetoun Quarry. The father Patrick Higgins was charged with murdering them between 25/10/1911 and 01/01/1912. Higgins was discharged from the army on medical grounds and had found work at Winchburgh Brickworks. At one point they moved to Prestongrange to live and work (The brickworks?) He had married and had 2 sons. His wife died and in 1911 he went to stay with her daughter.  In 1911 he was earning 24s a week at the brickworks.

31/01/1914 – Falkirk Herald – Serious accident. On Thursday afternoon, Robert Brown a workman employed at Winchburgh Brickworks and who belonged to Falkirk, met with a serious accident on the Union Canal near Polmont. He was in control of a horse that was drawing a scow laden with coal from Polmont to Winchburgh when the animal became restive. Brown was endeavouring to control it, when the horse suddenly dashed forward against him, and breaking the towing line, knocked him over a steep embankment at the side of the towing-path, the horse falling over the embankment onto the top of Brown, who sustained serious internal injuries. He was conveyed to the Falkirk Infirmary. He underwent an operation there yesterday and he is progressing as well as can be expected.

07/04/1916 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – A few good boys 14 or 15 years of age wanted. Winchburgh Brickworks.

21/06/1916 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – A few boys wanted over 14 years. Winchburgh Brickworks.

07/07/1916 – The Scotsman – Sec. Lt., John Braes Dougal, of the Royal Scots (killed), was the younger son of Mr William Dougal of Rockville, Linlithgow. Prior to his enlistment, Lt. Dougal was connected with the business of Messrs Alexander Dougal & Sons, brick and tile manufacturers, Winchburgh and in February last he married a Bathgate lady.

13/10/1916 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Brickwork proprietors appeal. Messrs Alexander Dougal and Sons, proprietors of the Winchburgh Brickworks, appealed for the exemption of William Munn, 20 years of age and single, described as a foreman and stated to be engaged in blasting. The appellants set forth that if this workman was taken away the work would be stopped, as they could not get anyone to fill his place, as owing to the great demand for contiguous shale mines and oil works there was no labour be got. They also stated that they were engaged in Government contracts.

The Military Representative – This is single young man of twenty, and as he is only that age he cannot be indispensable. I don’t think a young man of twenty, engaged in this work, should be held up at present. Mr Dougal – He is a pretty precocious voung man, and he manages well enough. He has been in that employment for many months. The Military Representative – I don’t think a young man should be held back for work like that. Mr Newlands – The only thing I see in his favour is that he is in charge of blasting with powder. Mr Ralston (to the applicant) – When you say the work will be stopped if this lad is taken away what do you mean? Mr Dougal – We must get the clay, and this work will be stopped if he goes. Mr Ralston – Do you seriously say that if this man is taken from you the whole brickwork will stopped? Mr Dougal – We must have the clay. The Military Representative – You are surely not dependent on a boy of twenty for the whole thing? Mr Dougal – Where will I get a man. The Military Representative – I think you could spare that man. The Chairman remarked that applicants have seven or eight other men in their employment and one of them could do the blasting. The appeal was refused, with the recommendation to the military authorities that the man be not called up for two weeks. The same appellants applied for the exemption of John Inglis. another employee at the brickworks, and, the Military Represented assenting, conditional exemption was granted.

06/06/1923 – The Scotsman – Bricks for housing schemes – Mr Thomas Henderson (Co-op, Glasgow, Tradeston) asked the Under Secretary for Health for Scotland whether he was aware that in connection with the latest instalment of the South Queensferry housing scheme the architect to the scheme was insisting on the use of Dougals Winchburgh bricks, costing substantially more than the price at which perfectly suitable bricks made locally could be purchased which action tended to encourage the brickmakers to maintain high prices, to discourage competition amongst brickmakers to maintain high prices, to discourage competition amongst brickmakers and to hamper contractors in producing lower building costs; and what steps he proposed to take in the matter.

The Under Secretary for Health for Scotland (Capt Elliot). As the result of inquiries made through the Local Authority, I am informed that the architect states that he does not insist on the use of Dougal’s Winchburgh bricks, but only that the bricks used shall conform to the specification, which required ” hard-burned” bricks. The local bricks referred to in the question are presumably those made by the British Brick Company (Ltd.) at Philipstoun. These bricks, which are made by a process new to Scotland, cannot be described as ” hard-burned”. But the Scottish Board of Health are aware that they have been used on other housing schemes, and so far with no complaints regarding them have reached the Board. In the circumstances of the present case, I do not feel warranted in interfering with the discretion of the architect, who would appear to be entitled to insist upon compliance with the terms of the specification. The Board are, however, taking steps with a view to ensuring that in future leases the terms of specifications may not be such as to exclude the use of any type of suitable brick whatever may be the process of manufacture.

31/12/1926 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – The death took place at his residence, Rockville, Linlithgow, on Thursday morning of Mr William Dougal, JP, brick manufacturer. The gentleman who was in his 72nd year had been in indifferent health for some time past. A native of Linlithgow, he was a son of the late Dean of Guild, Alexander Dougal and was associated with his father in business as a brickmaker at Winchburgh …

01/03/1935 – Linlithgowshire  Gazette – Sunken barge salvaged. During the middle of last week, a barge belonging to Alexander Dougal & Sons, brick manufacturers, Winchburgh, containing 36 tons of coal dross, sank in the Union Canal basin at Linlithgow. A leak had developed below the water line and caused the barge to become submerged. Despite the blizzard which prevailed on Sunday, a gang of workmen, under the supervision of Inspector Nimmo, set to work to bring the barge to the water surface again, but before this could be done “gates” had to be used at the canal basin bridge and at the aqueduct of the Avon at Causewayend, in order that the level of the water could be lowered from 5ft to 2ft 6in. The water was pumped from the barge by means of hand pumps, and four of these were used. The dross from the damaged barge was removed to another barge, and on Monday morning it was taken in tow for repairs. This is the second barge which has sunk in the basin since 1925. It was ascertained that the leak took place at the fore-end of the barge. Over two miles of the canal water level was reduced while the salvage operations were being carried out.

18/10/1935 – West Lothian Courier – Meth drinkers sentenced. At Linlithgow Sheriff Court yesterday, three “meth” drinkers were sentenced by Sheriff Robertson to ten days imprisonment without the option of a fine. The accused were Henry Devlin, William Brannan and Margaret Devlin, all in custody and they pleaded guilty to having on October 17, within a kiln at the brickworks, Winchburgh conducted themselves in a disorderly manner and committed a breach of the peace. Brannan admitted that they had been drinking “meth”.

30/10/1936 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Winchburgh … The storm on Monday evening created great havoc in the village and neighbourhood. All the roads showed signs of the storm, and many had to be cleared for the traffic. Those buildings a direct line of the gale suffered badly and none more than the brickworks and the new mine. The gale fanned the fires at the brickworks, and a quantity of coal was burned. At the new mine, matters were considerably worse. The scaffolding which bears the hutches gave way, and this means a closing down of the mine for a day or two.

1940 – 41 – Alexander Dougal & Sons Ltd, brick, tile and fire clay goods manufacturers, lime and cement merchants, 131 Fountainbridge.

1941 – 1942 – Alexander Dougal & Sons, brick manufacturers, Winchburgh.

10/02/1942 – Edinburgh Evening News – Blacksmith wanted. House available if required. Apply Winchburgh Brickworks.

04/02/1944 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Golden wedding. Mr and Mrs Daniel Wilson, Meadow Park, celebrated their golden wedding on Thursday last, when a family gathering was held to celebrate the occasion. Wilson, who is 78 years of age, and Mrs Wilson, who is 75, are both still active and enjoy good health. Mr Wilson, who originally came from Redding, Polmont, was for 55 years in the service of Messrs. Dougal & Son, Winchburgh Brickworks, for 45 years of which period he was a kiln-burner. In all that time he did not lose a single day’s work through illness a remarkable record. He retired some years ago …

27/10/1944 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – The death occurred at Kirkliston of Mr Thomas Tripney, for many years foreman at the Winchburgh Brickworks. Mr Tripney who was in his 85th year was very well known and respected in the district …

08/06/1945 – Linlithgowshire Advertiser – A letter from the Department Health stated that they understood the Area Director of Brick Production had taken action from which it was understood the Winchburgh Brickworks would soon be returning to production.

15/06/1945 – Linlithgowshire Gazette – Winchburgh Brickworks In the House of Commons on 6th June Mr Mathers asked the Minister of Works why it has been stipulated that bricks for County Council houses at Winchburgh, West Lothian, must be supplied from Edinburgh when there are locally manufactured bricks available. Mr Manningham-Buller – It has not been possible to find any trace of such a stipulation being made. Apart from the express provisions of a contract, bricks may be purchased from any source within 35 miles of a building site. If the hon. Member can give me more information I will, of course, have the matter further investigated.

22/04/1949 – West Lothian Courier – Like County Councillor James Buchanan, I think it would be interesting to find out why it is necessary to import bricks from the east of Edinburgh to build four houses in Winchburgh for agricultural workers. Councillor Buchanan maintains that at the present moment over 1,000,000 bricks are in stock at the Winchburgh Brickworks. He has requested West Lothian Housing Committee to ask the contractors for an explanation.

07/04/1950 – West Lothian Courier  – Winchburgh Brickworks to close. Winchburgh Brickworks, which have been in continuous operation for close on 100 years, are to close down this week. Notice to workers expired yesterday (Thursday) and except for a few employees retained on a care and maintenance basis, the rest of the workers will have to seek other jobs. The establishment was owned and operated by Wm Dougal & Sons until about two years ago when it was acquired by the Edinburgh firm of Jas. Millar & Sons, Building Contractors. The Winchburgh brick, made from the blue clay found in large deposits in Winchburgh area, enjoyed a first-class reputation in the building trade. Intensely hard and durable, it was much in demand for engineering constructional jobs and for all buildings where permanency and hard wear were essential. Production costs, however, have been high. The clay is not in itself combustible and in the baking of the bricks, a lot of coal has to be burned. Bricks made from colliery clay contain a percentage of coal which helps to keep down the fuel costs. Whether or not the Winchburgh works will ever open up again will depend upon the state of the market and the demand for high-class bricks. The number of employees affected by the dose down is 50.

06/04/1951 – West Lothian Courier – West Lothian building planning consent … A. and W. M. Urquhart, S.S.C., 16 Heriot Row, Edinburgh, on behalf of Alex. Dougal and Sons, Ltd., Winchburgh Brickworks. Winchburgh. Working of clay in a field adjoining the Brickworks near Winchburgh, subject to the following conditions stipulated by the Ministry of Transport, viz:-  (1) that excavation may be taken out to within 5 feet of the effective boundary line of the future trunk road down to the surface level of the future carriageway but that thereafter materials must not be excavated within a slope of 1½feet horizontally to 1 foot vertically commencing 5 feet from the effective boundary line at the level of the future carriage way, and (2) that no access should be permitted to the future trunk road …

25/04/1952 – West Lothian Courier – When I was a boy (writes our local reporter) and the local brickworks were operated by Messrs William Dougal and Sons one of the sights was to stand in the Station Road and watch the clayhole, where the raw material for the bricks was obtained, operating. By an ingenious system of slopes and slides, plates, etc., the bogeys were brought to the scene of operations unattended and, just as miraculously, were sent back to the haulage loaded, still unattended. Heath Robinson might have got material for one of his humorous drawings out of it. How different it all is now. The brickworks have been taken over by the well-known building firm of James Miller and Partners, Edinburgh, and the clayhole and works are rapidly being modernised. Bulldozers and mechanical shovels operate in the clayhole and the clay is conveyed to the brick making machines not in four-wheeled bogeys but in petrol-driven “dumpers.” We hear that the latest in brick-making machines will shortly be installed to take the place of the old machines which have served the place so well. It is pleasing to note that the brickworks is as busy as ever and overtime is the order of the day. The Winchburgh brick enjoys a high reputation and finds a ready market. So big is the firm now operating the works that they are able to use all the output themselves.

01/08/1952 – West Lothian Courier – Broxburn Newsreel … Even in my schooldays Winchburgh got its coal supplies via the canal, and most of the output of Winchburgh brickworks was despatched by canal boat …

30/01/1953 – West Lothian Courier – Winchburgh strike settled. The dismissal of two employees at Winchburgh Brickworks last Thursday because they refused to enter a kiln after it had been opened as in their opinion it was too hot, caused a temporary stoppage of work at the brickworks last Friday forenoon. The reinstatement of the men brought the stoppage to an end the same day. The men claim that following the dismissal of the two men, a Board of Trade inspector was called in to test the heat of the kiln with a thermometer. The heat is alleged to have burst the thermometer.

06/02/1953 – West Lothian Courier – The operators of Winchburgh Brickworks deny the accuracy of our report last week that there had been a strike at the works recently. There was, they state, no stoppage of work at all. The Board of Trade official alluded to was at the works on a different mission altogether. We regret any inconvenience which may have been caused by our report.

13/02/1953 – West Lothian Courier – West Lothian trades council … Letters were read the T & S.W.U and the Gen and Mun W.U regarding organisation in the Hotric Works, Broxburn and the Winchburgh Brickworks. Bro Finnigan reported that the Winchburgh Brickworks had been organised but Hotric was still unorganised and the secretary was instructed to write to Mr McHale re the Hotric Works.

15/07/1960 – West Lothian Courier – Water pumped. With the exception of a small quantity of water remaining in the sump, the quarry hole at Winchburgh Brickworks has been pumped dry. When one considers the now empty quarry hole, 60 feet deep in parts, one is amazed at the quantity of water it must have held. An opinion is that over fifty million gallons of water were pumped out. The state of preservation within the hole is remarkable. From an outside view, the pump house, which stood underwater for almost two years, looks as good as new. Vegetation abounds, and already there is considerable greenery about the place. Though the water has now been pumped, we would suggest that there is still a danger to trespassers at the quarry hole. Clay beneath the huge protruding slabs of rock has in parts become loosened, and there is the obvious danger, should the clay flake away, of the massive rocks losing their support and falling. Unauthorised persons should steer clear of the quarry and it is certainly not a place which children should frequent.

1961 – 1962 – A directory of British clay products and manufacturers – Alex Dougal and Sons Ltd, Winchburgh Brickworks, West Lothian. Tel Winchburgh 233. Bricks and tiles. Trade name Winchburgh.

Jan 1967 – Clay Workers magazine (V66 777) – Winchburgh Brickworks for sale – For sale – comprising machine shed 96 ft by 62 ft., premises providing over 7,000 square feet of floor area and land, of approximately 25 acres. Large valuable deposits of blue clay and yellow puddle clay.  Also a number of employees’ houses.  Full particulars from James Miller & Partners Ltd., 18, George Street, Edinburgh, 2.  Phone 30241. (Information from Ann Los, East Yorks).

22/03/1974 – West Lothian Courier – Are they boring for oil near Winchburgh, for more than half a century a leading shale oil mining centre. The setting up of a boring rig in a field west of the village has set tongues wagging. With oil so much in the news, that was inevitable. It is hardly likely to be an oil probe, however. To tap the “black gold,” if any, means boring down many thousands of feet and that is well beyond the scope of the rig which has been set up. The work in hand is probably that of making a test of clay deposits known to exist in the area in question. Not far from the test bore, and on the other side of the Union Canal, was Winchburgh Brickworks, operated for many years by the Linlithgow firm, Wm. Dougal & Sons. The Winchburgh brick was recognised as being one of the best and hardest industrial bricks produced in Britain and came from a very rich alluvial blue clay. The Miller construction firm, Edinburgh, bought the Winchburgh plant from the Dougals and operated it for the last year or so of its life before abandoning it. This type of clay contains no combustible material at all and this means that coal is used to fire the kilns, making the bricks expensive to produce. If brickmaking is resumed st Winchburgh, the villagers hope that the planning committee will see to it that the village is not left with the same legacy of scars it inherited from the previous enterprise. During that time the clay was won by an opencast or quarrying method and no attempt was ever made to fill in and restore these workings. The clayhole, covering many acres, was left as it was, an ideal adventure playground for many generations of Winchburgh children but a dangerous and unsightly one nevertheless.


The following family information is supplied by Rose Williams.

The following Dougals are all sons and daughters of my great-great-grandparents, William Dougal & Marion Ferguson of Linlithgow, all of them born either in or around Linlithgow.
Elizabeth Dougal  1816 – 1884  married Thomas Newton  1816 – 1884. Thomas as a young man was a sailmaker at Carronshore, Larbert, and then was a tenant at Drumkilbo Tileworks from about 1856. (Owner, Rt. Hon. Lord Wharnecliffe). Continued till at least  1871, but by 1881 Thomas was farming at Kingoldrum, Angus.
Janet Dougal   1819 – 1896  married Robert Meikle 1818 – 1897 of Linlithgow. They were also at Drumkilbo Tileworks during the same years as Elizabeth & Thomas Newton. By 1871 Robert was farming at Polmont.
James Dougal 1821 – 1893 –   Erected Craigend Brickworks, and with his brother, John Dougal and others carried on the business successfully for 17 years. In 1868 Callendar Coal Company was formed, which James was coal master of, employing 310 men in 1881.
John Dougal  1825 – 1899   was with James at Craigend Brickworks, and by 1861 was farming at Muiravonside.
Alexander Dougal   1828 – 1899   as a young man was at Rentonhall Brickworks, Morham, East Lothian, ( learning the trade ? ) About 1859 he was at Forgandenny Brick & Tileworks as the tenant. By 1869 he was back in Linlithgow, and Winchburgh Brick and Tile works had begun. With 2 of his sons in the business, Winchburgh Brickworks continued beyond Alexander’s death in 1892.
Drumkilbo Tileworks made the bricks for the railway tunnels at Dundee Railway Station.
Winchburgh Brickworks used the canal for transporting bricks and coal to their depot in Edinburgh. They had a yard at Linlithgow Canal Basin for the same purpose. Another relative was in charge of this and lived in the cottage on the canal which is now a tearoom.
It would be fitting for it to be recorded that 5 members of the family were all connected with early brickmaking.
 3 others were successful boot and shoemakers in Linlithgow, and my great-grandfather, Laurence Dougal was an iron founder in Bathgate, but that is another story.

Many thanks to Alex Steven for forwarding the following photographs

Below – <1914 – Winchburgh. Union Canal. Bricks on a barge coming from Winchburgh Brickworks. The bricks appear to have been thrown into the barge. Was this the normal practice or were these broken 2nds anyway?

Below – Unknown date – Winchburgh Brickworks in ruins.



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