The Stonefield Brickfield

brickworks1859Stonefield Brickfield was located at the North East end of John Street in the early 1840s and 50s. We have a wonderful description preserved in the 1859 valuation Roll Reference X1-15 Trace 2. “A field suitable in soil for making building bricks. There is a kiln for baking them near the south of the field. It has been used for brick making during these last eighteen years, since 1841. It is expected wrought out in two years time. The property of W. Forrest Esquire. Wrought by J. Craig of Birdsfield.”

At the time, this was well away from any habitation. There was no park, John Street still wasn’t named and the only thing the brick workers would have heard, aside from birds tweeting, was the rumble of steam locomotives on the nearby Railway. As the workmen headed home up John Street, the Winks Inn must have been a tempting place to stop after a hard shift baking new bricks. This was a time when Blantyre required building materials. It was a thriving, growing village and the bricks would have been used extensively. It was quite common at the time for the brick to be stamped e.g Greenhall, Stonefield etc to let the supplier know where the brick originated from. The name was important and signified quality in what was certainly a thriving profession throughout the Parish.

Later, when the Brickfield was exhausted (mined of most of it’s clay), the area remained associated with industry. The 1859 account suggests the field would only have lasted another couple of years, but Naismiths Blantyre Directory of 1879 has it still in use! William Watson was the manager in 1860 but was made bankrupt that year. By 1882, Richmond and McAlpine owned the Stonefield Brickworks.

The ongoing extraction of clay seems logical in the 1870s, as by then miners rows housing was being built all over the town. Almost always, the bricks were sourced locally with evidence that Dixon’s Rows used Stonefield Bricks. The site therefore had an industrial use for a long, long time. Even today, it is the site of a Plant Hire company.

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