|FireClay and FireBricks|
Synopsis In 1882 the Works are sold for £4000
to the newly formed Glenboig Union Fire-Clay
Company under James Dunnachie. The share
holders are told that Cumbernauld
"possesses a clay field practically
inexhaustible of unapproachable quality".
In 1882 the Works are sold for £4000 to the newly formed Glenboig Union Fire-Clay Company under James Dunnachie. The share holders are told that Cumbernauld "possesses a clay field practically inexhaustible of unapproachable quality".
The Glenboig Union Fireclay Co. Ltd was purchased by General Refractories Ltd of Sheffield in 1936, which in turn became
G.R- Stein Refractories Ltd in 1967. The "Old Works" in Glenboig closed in 1958 and were demolished by 1965. The "Star Works" closed sometime after 1974.
His bricks at this time bore the legend J D and the title "Star Works, Glenboig" or "Glenboig" with a star imprinted below the word. In the rescued brick above you can see the remnants of the Star below the letters NB.
In 1882 the two companies decided to amalgamate as the Glenboig Union Fireclay Company Ltd with Dunnachie as Managing Director.
Dunnachie's invention of a gas kiln for firing bricks was to earn him even greater praise and money. The gas kilns first proved themselves at the Company's works at Glenboig, Cumbernauld and Gartcosh, as they allowed greatly increased temperatures and considerable savings in fuel costs.
Much of the work was dirty, hard, and dangerous. One accident in 1909 resulted in four clay-miners being killed after an underground roof fall. They were Joseph Anderson, William Allen, William Taylor, and Patrick Cameron. Donald McLeod managed to escape with help from a Mr. Murdoch and a pit pony.
Garnqueen (Glenboig) Brickworks c1915
John G Stein
The contribution of John
Stein to the development of the Scottish fire-clay industry is a
considerable one and hardly less than that of James Dunnachie. Indeed Stein
came to see himself as the archrival to Dunnachie. Born into a brick-making
family, his father operated a brick and tile works at Clackmannan, John
served his apprenticeship at Winchburgh, West Lothian, before joining the
Glenboig Company at Cumbernauld.
In November 1887 John Stein
and 6 men starred boring a shaft at Milnquarter Farm near
High Bonnybridge. From the first wages book we see that his employee friends
worked 10 hours a day, 7 days a week for 3d to 6d an hour!
In 1888 Stein diversified
the business by establishing a works at Denny, near the Anchor Inn, to
produce building bricks. Two
years later he introduced to Bonnybridge the first machine to make
firebricks in Scotland, the Scholefield stiff plastic brick-making machine.
In 1906 Stein was to clash
with Dunnachie again when the latter complained of
Stein's company advertising bricks made from "Glenboig
Clay" which Stein claimed was technically correct, whereas Dunnachie
saw it as an attempt to cash in on the proven reputation of his Glenboig
John G Stein died in 1927, 6 years after James Dunnachie. A year after his death, the John G Stein Company started a Mine and Works at Manuel, near Linlithgow The Founder would have been delighted to know that these works were to grow into the largest fire-clay manufactory in Britain, and second in the world after a plant in USA.
Considering the intense
rivalry between these two fire-clay pioneers, the eventual outcome for their
companies is ironic. General Refractories, the Sheffield company who had
taken over the Glenboig Company in 1936, 30 years later was responsible for
the demise of John C Stein as an independent company.
Amalgamation in 1967 resulted in G R Stein Refractories Ltd, who operated Scotland's last and sole remaining interest in fire-clay at Manuel near Linlithgow.
We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Chris Benard and Brian Thomson of North Lanarkshire Council
Some useful links
Summerlee Heritage Park - Brick Collection - Just a small part of the Summerlee Collection.
The International Brick Collectors Association in California If you're a brick collector, you may be interested in the IBCA. A good variety of bricks were imported or shipped into California. In the early days, foreign bricks were brought to California as ship ballasts. These were dumped on the shore, and the boats refilled with California wheat for the return trip home. Bricks came from England, Scotland, Japan, and Canada. In the piles were precious fire bricks, which were highly desired for ovens and furnaces. Some enterprising men took these bricks and sold them as imported fire bricks. As demand for foreign fire bricks grew, they became quite a source of revenue for the vessel owners, who could sell them at $5 to $10 less than the domestic product. Because these bricks were carted away for long distances, they may be found in nearly every corner of the State.