Owner of Scottish Brick History website (www.scottishbrickhistory.co.uk) Mark Cranston recently sent me this photo of R McAlpine brick , made at Stonefield, Blantyre.
Stonefield Brickfield was established and located at the North East end of John Street in 1841 (then just a track without name). 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. A decade later in the 1850’s, the road into it was named New Station Road 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 former 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!
20/11/1860 – Edinburgh Gazette – Sequestration of William Wilson, Brick and Tile Maker, residing at Stonefield, in the Parish of Blantyre, and County of Lanark. William Mudie, Junior, Chartered Accountant in Glasgow, Trustee on said sequestrated estate, hereby intimates, that the Commissioner has audited his accounts, brought down to 3d instant, postponed payment of a dividend till next statutory period, and dispensed with sending circulars to Creditors. William Mudie, Jnr. Trustee. Glasgow, November 17, I860
02/05/1863 – Hamilton Advertiser – Stonefield Brick and Tile Work in the parish of Blantyre (as possessed by Mr Cameron who does not offer) is at present to let. For particulars apply to John Clark Forrest, City of Glasgow Bank, Hamilton or Beechmont, Cambuslang 31/03/1863.
1873 – 1874 – McAlpine, Robert, brick builder and brickmaker, Hamilton Hill Brickwork, Possil St., and Stonefield Brickwork, Blantyre.
22/07/1875 – Glasgow Herald – Blantyre, serious incident. A lad, named James Johnston, 11 years of age, residing with his father, a carter at Stonefield, met, on Tuesday night with an unfortunate accident at Mr McAlpine’s Brickwork. He got entangled about the engine and was drawn in and very badly hurt before it could be stopped. His right arm was fractured in several places between the elbow and the hand and he was otherwise cut and bruised. Dr Downie, who attended, ordered the lads removal to Glasgow Infirmary.
1878 – 79 – McAlpine, Robert, Stonefield Brickworks, Blantyre.
1878 – 1879 – McAlpine, Robert, builder and brickmaker, Hamilton Hill Brickworks, Possil Road; Kelvinside Brickworks, Great Western Road; and Stonefield Brickworks, Low Blantyre.
1882 – McAlpine & Richmond, Brick and Tile Manufacturer, Blantyre ( Stonefield?)
04/06/1885 – Southern Reporter – About 3 o’clock on Sunday morning fire broke out in a wooden shed used as a stable and store at Stonefield Brickwork, Blantyre belonging to Messrs Tinto & Stevenson, brick manufacturers. The shed was burned to the ground along with 2 ponies and a quantity of harness.
1886 – Stevenson & Tinto – Brick and Tile Maker, Stonefield, Blantyre. p.878.
Below – 27/08/1888 – Glasgow Herald – Stonefield Brickfield near Blantyre Station for sale.
The works are not depicted on the 1897 – The only reference is to an ‘Old Clay Pit’
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.
Robert McAlpine’s personal story is a separate one for another day, the founder of the engineering empire and well known company.
With thanks to Scottish Brick History website for much of this detail.