Skip navigation

Discover Prestongrange

The Brick & Pipe Works

Dial 0870 005 3161 and press 2

The centre of the site at first glance gives little impression of a factory's presence here. However, looking down you should see the circular bases of the old beehive kilns. Kilns are giant ovens used for baking bricks and clay drainage pipes. Beehive kilns gained their name because of their distinctive shape. Up to twenty of them once stood here at the heart of the complex. How many can you count?

When fired, the smoke belching from these kilns contained pollutants such as toxic flint dust. It meant potworkers were at constant risk of getting lung disease or lead poisoning.

Clay from the mines and local clay pits was easily available although better quality China clays were later imported from Derbyshire.

A succession of local landowners and leaseholding families ran Prestongrange's industries. Among them in the nineteenth century the Gordons and the Grant-Sutties. Each owner or Company invested in new ideas, buildings and equipment to try and exploit the area's full potential. For example, at the beginning of the last century the Summerlee Company replaced the kilns with new designs according to the demands for bricks or glazed pipes. It was under Summerlee that the brickworks had its greatest period of production.

© 2004 East Lothian Council