It all began however before the Jurassic Age when a fold in the Earth’s crust formed what is now the Ochil Hills. These hills are the northern boundary of the valley of the River Forth and stretch from Gleneagles in the West to
It was in the small village called Clackmannan lying at the foot of the Southern slopes of the Ochils that
In these days refractories factories were built on top of the clay seams which provided their raw materials and Bonnybridge straddled some of the richest clay in
Nature was indeed kind to
The names of Stein, Glenboig,
The plant, which opened in 1903, was funded by the family, local banks and a number of local investors and grew to be on e of the foremost plants in the
In April 1967 General Refractories acquired the shares of the
Now owned by the Cookson Group plc, from
Two words imprinted on one of the last bricks ever made at the former GR-Stein works in Whitecross.
But that simple memorial does not even begin to tell the story of a remarkable workplace renowned throughout the world and loved throughout
Only a skeleton staff now remain at
Their industry and toil made the brickworks famous. But in the end they were not enough to keep it open.
At its peak there were more than 1200 employed there almost everyone in the district had a relative who found their way to the works . . . some for a summer, others for a lifetime.
Its passing marks the end of one of the last great family employers. Generations of families worked at
Workers no longer throng in and out of the gates, but their voices and spirit still echo in the site.
It opened in 1928 and eventually rose to become a world-leader exporting to 120 countries.
He told the Herald: ''Most of the people had worked here for 20 to 30 years they spent a lot of their lives here.
''The place was full of families. It was a great family place. It s good for your business to have families. They re all looking after each other, but they re also making sure they re all doing what they should be doing.
''It was a haven for people, to be honest. There were a lot of people from universities who came for the summer.
Around 240 people were employed at
But the effort from the workers who remained throughout the closure period never faltered as they completed orders to be sent to
''The quality was so great, they were coming here to get the last orders. People from the entire world wanted bricks from here before it shut down.
In a good year around 100,000 tonnes of bricks were produced.
It produced refractory bricks, for furnaces, and monolithics concretes and cements to put the bricks together. Brick production has been shifted to
Its products were used for the making of steel, cement, glass and aluminium.
The works, which occupy a 122-acre site, were founded in 1928 by the legendary
In the late 60s, the Stein family agreed a merger with General Refractories and became GR-Stein.
The Stein family left a short time later, but the name lives on and will continue to do so. Even though the brickworks have shifted to
Hepworth Refractories took over in the 1970s, Alpine made it Premier Refractories around 1997 and current owner Vesuvius took charge around three years ago.
Works at Castlecary, Glenboig and Chapelhall closed in the early 80s and everything was centred at
''Now it s
His grandfather, father, uncles and brother,
He started in June 1961 as an apprentice electrician and remembers the many ''fantastic characters.
It was his task laterally to ensure the shutdown went as smoothly as possible. He said he was glad training took place to help workers find other employment.
''I made a lot of friends up there, he said. ''You really miss your workmates. I enjoyed the work I did. It was a good job.
He described the feeling of looking for a new job as ''soul-destroying and said it affected his whole family, however, he is looking forward to 2002.
''It was a strange feeling when I knew I wasn’t going to go back to that place, he recalled. ''I feel sorry for some of the guys who had been there since they left school. It s all they’ve ever done.
He said he had kept in touch with former workmates, some of whom had become like family.
''It s genuinely sad, he said. ''I know a lot of people who worked there. People with families and mortgages.
However, he expressed hope that new employment could be created in the area.
He paid tribute to the workforce for working through the difficult closure period.
''The workforce bent over backwards to help the company out in the last year, he said. ''If it wasn’t for the workforce they would never have got out the orders.
"Today (Friday) marks the end of an era when the lights go out for the last time at Manuel Brickworks in Whitecross.
The facility has employed thousands of villagers and many more from the Linlithgow, Bo’ ness, Bridgend and Maddiston areas for decades.
Its workforce has dwindled dangerously after changing ownership several times in recent years after a long period of stability under the GR Stein banner Now the works officially close today and electrician, Robert McMeechan has the unenviable task of shutting down the works where he has been employed since he was 16 year old
There has only been a skeleton staff working in recent weeks with hundreds departing over the past few months most of them knowing no other work than what they did at the brickworks plant."
Said local amateur historian Murdoch Kennedy this week: "I was reminded of the words of the late George Charleston in a poem about the closure of another local employer Lochmill when he wrote:
The latest local victim of, the economic knife
Was to them, not just a workplace
But, far more, a way of life
Added Murdoch: "I have no doubt however that the sadness of Steins final closure will provoke many memories of happier times “
Mr. Kennedy also recalled a tribute in verse about Manuel Brickworks penned by the late David Patterson of
who died in 1977, it was entitled.
"Jock Baillie’s Heavy Squad"
Big Jimmy said; Unload yer bricks
And mak yer wey tae Number Six
Jock Bailie’s breaking up the road
He needs yer lorry to take the load
Big Jock’s squad they worked like deils
Wi picks an shovels and pneumatic dreels
When the digging-oot is aw complete
They’ll fill it up wi good concrete
Tam Robertson and Jock McNee
Can dae a job like onie three
Wi’ oilskin coats and troosers tae
In lashin' rain they worked aw day
A’ at their side worked Jimmy Hume
A wiry lad frae Lithgy toun
An' frae Brigend wha' did they send
But stocky, hardy Paddy Muldoon
Jock Baillie telt me tae be wary
Because the road is awfie nairy
Roughriders, forklifts, lorries tae
Are passin by here aw the day
Wee Paddy wi' his rheumatic pains
He's pokin here and pokin there
Wi watter runnin everywhere
Tae set the job aw in line
Alan Steele is daein fine
He's goat the pins and lines tae fix
Aw ready for the concrete mix
He'll dump doon every concrete load
Tae mak an even, level road
For heavy traffic every day
A tradesman job yeve goat tae hae
JockBaillie's goat a heavy squad
Among his workers, no a fraud
As honest as the day is long
They'll work until the whistle's gone
Big Jock's happy as onie Lord
Tae be in chairge o’ sic a squad
Says he: "Ah've nae Tam, Dick an Harry
Ah'll settle for Tam, Jock and Paddy”