Manufacturer Notes: A. W. Buchan & Company


United Kingdom

1904 Kelly's Directory

    Ink Bottle Manufacturers.
        Buchan A. W. & Co. Portobello potteries, Portobello R. S. O. Midlothian London

1921 Post Hughes' Business Directory

      Portobello, Edinburgh
          BUCHAN A. W. & CO. Portobello Potteries

1934 Post Office Directory

        BUCHAN A. W. & CO. Bristol stoneware & whiteware manufacturers, Portobello, Midlothian, Scotland:
         specialists in stone bottles, footwarmers, capped pots, extract & spirit jars--Tel. "Buchan, Portobello"; Phone,
         Portobello 81569

1938 Post Office Directory

       BUCHAN A. W. & CO. Bristol stoneware & whiteware manufacturers, Portobello, Midlothian, Scotland:
         specialists in stone bottles, footwarmers, cemetery vases, capped pots, extract & spirit jars--Tel. "Buchan,
         Portobello"; Phone, Portobello 81569 _______________________________________________________________________________________

PORTOBELLO, NEAR EDINBURGH. Midlothian Potteries.—The Midlothian Stoneware Potteries at Portobello and Musselburgh, near Edinburgh, were established about 1857 by Mr. W. A. Gray, for the manufacture of general stoneware goods, but they had, I am informed by him, been in existence as earthenware works for upwards of a century before that time. They are carried on under the style of " W. A. Gray & Sons." The goods produced are all kinds of stoneware and the more ordinary descriptions of earthenware. Portobello Pottery.—These works were established in 1770, and are now carried on by A. W. Buchan & Co. For a number of years they turned out ordinary white earthenware and Rockingham ware, but since 1842 the manufacture has been entirely confined to stoneware bottles, jars, jugs, feet and carriage warmers, spirit-bottles, and the usual classes of such goods. The mark of the firm is a star.

Jewitt, Llewellyn; The Ceramic Art of Great Britain (London, J. S. Virtue & Co., 1883) _______________________________________________________________________________________


The adjoining pottery has been used for various purposes. Originally built by Anthony Hillcoat about 1786, we find it about forty years afterwards converted into a soap work, carried on by Messrs.' Geo. Morrison & Son. About the year 1830 it was acquired by two brothers—Hugh and Arthur Cornwall—who began stoneware making, a speciality being large filters and jars in salt glaze work. Some of these were highly ornamented with figures of animals, hunting scenes, male and female figures, Ac., in high relief. In the same strong ware they also made finely-modelled figures of horses, cows, &c., showing good artistic skill. These were uncoloured, being in plain brown glaze. This work was continued for some years by Mr Hugh Smith, under the firm of Milne, Cornwall, & Company, until about 1840, when the Pottery became the property of Mr John Tough, from Newbigging Pottery, who, along with his son, Mr Thomas Tough, carried it on till about 1867, when Mr A. W. Buchan, the present proprietor, acquired a lease of the premises, and for ten years—viz., from 1868 till 1877—carried it on in partnership with Mr T. F. Murray, under the firm of Murray & Buchan, and with considerable enterprise speedily developed a most flourishing industry under the name of the "Waverley Potteries." Mr Murray retired in 1877, and Mr. Buchan has since carried on the business under the designation of A. W. Buchan & Company. Larger and more commodious buildings were a few years ago erected by Mr Buchan on the adjacent vacant ground, on the site of the old Harbour of Portobello, which had been some years previously filled up, and ultimately the old premises were abandoned. Not being occupied for several years they fell almost into ruins, but the firm purchased them, and after a thorough restoration added them to their works. The whole premises now cover an area of about an acre and ahalf. The clay used is all got from Devonshire, and the ware produced is very varied and of first-class quality. Some years ago the firm produced an ornamental ware called Portobello faience, which was characterised by excellency of colour and design, and which was in high repute as an art ware. The rapid extension of their other business led to the manufacture of this art ware being discontinued, and the firm are now actively engaged in the making of spirit jars, cream, meat, and extract jars, fancy jars, stoneware bottles for ale or porter (suitable for export), ink bottles, jam and honey jars, spittoons, and almost every conceivable form of hard-fired stoneware, a specialty being the printing on under glaze the name, trade marks and designs necessary in modern commerce. The business connection of the firm extends throughout Scotland, the north of England, and London, while a good foreign business is also carried on. As an evidence of the excellence of their output, the exhibits of Messrs.' A. W. Buchan & Company at recent International Exhibitions held in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Newcastle have earned for them commendations from the press and the public, and the highest awards of the Judges. Mr. Buchan's eldest son, Mr. Samuel Buchan, was assumed as a partner in 1890. There are close upon one hundred employes, of whom about fifty are young women. It may here be mentioned that part of the premises is occupied by the Waverley Electric Works, established a few years ago, and carried on under the management of Mr Matthew Buchan.

Baird, William; Annals of Duddingston and Portobello (Edinburgh, Andrew Elliot, 1898) _______________________________________________________________________________________


Another pottery not far from the Midlothian Pottery was erected in 1770, and was occupied for many years by W. & C. Smith, who are credited with being the men who produced bone china in Portobello. We have a vague account of their proceedings, but very little actual information as to the size of the place or the patterns they produced, for again no mark was put on any of their ware. The pottery was enlarged in 1786, but in a few years the enterprise proved unremunerated, and it was disposed of to the adjoining soapworks. By the year 1830 the soapworks resold the pottery to two brothers, Hugh and Arthur Cornwall, who carried on the works for many years, making china and other wares under the firm of Cornwall & Co. They latterly devoted their energies to the manufacture of stoneware jugs, jars, etc., in which they depicted hunting and other sporting scenes in a spirited, lifelike fashion. The demi-john illustrated in Plate LVI. shows the proprietors to have been excellent potters. It is one of the finest specimens of salt-glazed stoneware I have ever seen in any country. The body of the ware is mottled-brown3 and the figures are made in a cream-coloured pipe-clay, the darker background throwing up the relief clearly, yet with a charm of softness not usually met with in such ware. A few years later the firm was altered to Mime, Cornwall & Co. Not much change, however, was made in the pottery, only figures Appear as well as animals. The individuality of conception, and the remarkable skill of this pottery is fully borne out by the saltbucket illustrated in Plate LVI The works in 1840 were sold to John Tough, who was already a master-potter at Newbigging. Tough took his son in now as partner, but the works apparently ceased manufacturing the higher grade of stoneware, and latterly only made coarse articles of common clay similar to those made in Newbigging. About 1867 the Toughs gave up the pottery, and Mr. Buchan acquircd a lease of it, ultimately purchasing the place. A few wears later he was joined by J. F. Murray from the Caledonian Pottery, Glasgow. The firm now became Murray & Buchan, and continued so till 1877 when Murray resigned. William Maclachlan, a brother of John of the Clyde Pottery, Greenock, took Murray's place in the management of the works for a few years, till he also resigned. The business now passed entirely into the hands of Messrs. A. W. Buchan & Co., who have ever since carried on these works under their own name, producing large quantities of stoneware of every description. These works on the quay side were built on the opposite side, from Rathbone’s place, of the old harbour that had been constructed by the Jamesons ir the rnidd1e of the eighteenth century which was so useful in importing the clays of Devonshire and Cornwall for the potteries and for shipping their finished products. This harbour, not much used now, has been filled up to make room for further extensions. Many of the old pic stones with rings attached that formed the original quay wall are still to be seen in the kilnyard.

Fleming, John Arnold; Scottish Pottery (Glasgow, 1923)

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