Kilchattan Bay Tile Works were built in the mid 1940’s. They were built on the initiative
of a former Marquess of Bute and in addition to making bricks and tiles also served
as the Estate Sawmill. The original tenant had the imposing designation of “Master
of the Tile-
In 1866 Mr Gill took over the tile works. Within a few years, he had introduced his
own patented design of power-
Kilchattan was quite a port at this time. Mr Gill had his own boat, a 70 ton jigger, the "Christina and Janet", and in addition there were the locally owned smacks "Duchess," a product of the Ardmaleish Yard and the "Cottage Girl "and one or two smaller vessels of 25/80 tons. These boats were engaged primarily in the tile trade, carrying dross from Ardrossan for burning in the kilns, and transporting tiles throughout the West of Scotland.
The nerve centre of the works was the engine house and milling plant. Attached to
this was another building that housed the smithy, workshop and stores. The prime
mover was a very ancient steam engine supplied with steam from a 25' x 3' egg-
In its heyday the tile works employed some 20 men and in addition provided work for the locally owned smacks and half a dozen carting contractors, who were engaged in carting dross from Kilchattan Pier and tiles back.
In the early days of this century there were no telephones, but there was a telegraphic service from Kilchattan Bay Post Office. The shipping side of the business made regular use of this facility. Telegrams were written on a tile and given to a carter to hand in at the Post Office.
After the turn of the century it became more and more difficult to find a market for the output. In addition the original clay bed had become exhausted and although a new pit was dug in 1908, the clay was 18 feet below ground level and difficult to extract. As a result the last kiln was burnt in 1915. The drying shed did find an alternative use, and for some years dried shells taken from the shore for use as poultry shell and grit.
Adapted from an article by Mr T Gilmour (grandson of the Tile Works Manager) published in December 1949
More historical information here http://www.scotlandsplaces.gov.uk/record/rcahms/158613/bute-