Brickworks

At one time, there were sixteen brickworks in Fife, making bricks for mills and factories, industrial chimneys and kilns, as well as weavers’ cottages, miners’s rows, and underground construction in all the pits. Former workers share their memories and photos.

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00 Exhibition Panels: Brickworks

00 Exhibition Panels: Brickworks

At one time, there were sixteen brickworks in Fife, making bricks for mills and factories, industrial chimneys and kilns, as well as weavers’ cottages, miners’s rows, and underground construction in all the pits. Former workers share their memories and photos.

01 Wemyss Brickworks: Gary Nurse

01 Wemyss Brickworks: Gary Nurse

GN: I worked at Wemyss Brick Company which was established in 1906. It was owned by the Wemyss family that own Wemyss Castle. Up to its demise in 2004 (I think it was) when it was knocked down, it was the only brick work in the country run by a family because it was passed on through generations... Bowman had the site before 1906 and he leased it from Wemyss but his lease ran out - so the Wemyss say - and Michael Wemyss probably thought 'we'll go and take it over.' The clay for the Wemyss brick company came from the 'pogs' just outside Kennoway.
MB: What was the mode of transport?
GN: Lorries, and when I was there, up till 1973, the kilns were coal fired and after ’73 they were gas fired. There was a new kiln built which was more up to date and then a second kiln built in ’76 because the business was expanding.  But it was closed down in 2001.

02 Blairadam Brickworks: Marion Kelly

02 Blairadam Brickworks: Marion Kelly

MB: You were saying that you worked in a brickworks one time?
MK: Aye Blairadam I think all the brickworks are closed aren't they?
MB: What sort of work did you do?
MK: when the bricks come out of the machine, do you know when they were just being made, they were soft and they come out of the machine
MB: Was that like a mould?
MK: They were moulded but they come out of the machine just as bricks but they were black and you put them on to a trolley, you had a trolley sitting at the machine so you lifted them, there was one at each side lifting them onto the trolley and then they were taken from there to the kilns where they were fired
MB: What did they feel like, they were heavy then?
MK: They were heavy and soft. They were actually soft and black.
MB: Now if you lifted them would you make fingerprints in them?
MK: I suppose you could have made fingerprints in them.
MB: If you squeezed too hard?
MK: Aye, you had to handle them you know so you wouldnae dent them. We did thist with our bare hands.