| full of water. Now the work began. One of the men, laying
hold of the wand at the open end, would raise it, when down
went the bucket into the water at the other end. The full
bucket was then raised high enough to reach his companion,
who stood ready to catch and empty it into a wooden water
course, through which it would run straight into the pan.
The single pan, like the three-fold one already described,
required to be thrice filled and thrice boiled down before
a cargo of salt worth lifting could be produced. Each boiling
occupied about four hours, and only one casting of salt could
be taken in twenty-four hours. Up to this date the salter
was paid at the rate of from 16s. to 18s. per week, with free
house, coal, and salt.
In the year 1810 the late Hugh Francis Cadell made a sweeping
reformation in the system hitherto pursued at Cockenzie. The
old pan of 14 by 7 feet he considered by far too small, and
erected a new set at 18 feet by 9. Instead of heating, as
hitherto, from the sole, he introduced the brander, or furnace,
beneath them. Hence the name of brander pans.
The " bucket-and-wand " was now also thrown aside,
and the force pump, with its latest improvements, introduced,
which proved an immense saving of labour. From this date the
weekly wage System ceased, and the men were put on piecework;
as. per box or cwt. was the price paid the men for the salt
they turned out. Off this they had to provide and keep up
a few tools, purchase all the fuel for the boiling of the
pans, and provide the bullocks' blood for the purifying of
the salt. The master upheld the pans, pumping gear, &c.
At this period the duty on salt was 16s. per cwt.; the men,
as already shown, got 2s, and the master sold it for
30s. per cwt. A few of the evils which the men had to contend
with, and which at times caused not a little heartburning
among them, were: —On the salt being drawn and boxed, if the
salt-grieve was not at hand to let them at once get it stored
in the girnal, it, being new and warm, was sure to subside,
and as sure as it came to the girnal door below the level
of the wood, he condemned it. The salter had to return it
to the pan, refill his box, and get it passed. If the salt-grieve
chanced to be in a querulous mood, he would thrust his "
measuring stick" down through the box of salt, and if,
through this treatment, it subsided a little, it was condemned.
If the men set their box down too rashly when placing it to
get measured, and it then subsided, it was condemned. If on
going into the salt house after all had been passed and stored
he found a few dark specks among the salt, he condemned according
to his discretion, and the men were compelled to carry the
salt back to the pan and reboil it. The drippings of the salt-boxes—
oil of salt, it is called—were all gathered up and disposed
of at the " secret" or chemical works.
The carriers who, in those days, purchased salt, as a rule
paid all in copper coin, which shey brought with them in strong
leather bags. Nor did they count it out by pennies, but poured
it out by measure. A wooden cup, supposed to hold two shillings
of this coin, was the gauge. Out of this same cup the men
were paid their wages. A Copper measuring cup is still to
be seen at Cockenzie.
Owing to the heavy duty payable on salt, it was, during these
many years, anything but a cheap commodity, and smuggling
was carried on extensively. The makers were allowed free salt,
and never went home without carrying in their loose clothing
a quantity of it. Their wives would then sally forth with
creels on their backs, as if to sell fish, while in reality
it was to dispose of the salt carried home by their husbands.
Occasionally the salt grieve would have cause to complain
of little salt being brought to the girnal. He would make
a raid on the salt works by night, to inquire of the sailers
what had become of their latest drawing. " Ah, "
would be the rejoinder, " that auld jade the blude-wife
(an old woman who went about seeking blood for the use of
the sailers) has again deceived us. She must have got ' fou'
yesterday, and brought away swine's blude instead of bullock's;
and, ye ken, the saut winna purify if there's ony grease in
it; and, ye ken, ye winna pass it if there be ony impurities
in it; so there's our latest drawing in the pan before ye
boiling over again "—while all the time the latest drawing
would be snug in a boat rowing fast up the Firth for disposal
in Leith or Edinburgh.
Sandy Hewit of Cockenzie is said to have been one of the most
accomplished salt smugglers that ever plied the trade at Cockenzie.
Sandy played a great part in the boat loads that were rowed
up the Forth, and did a roaring trade on his " own hook
" besides. He could baffle both gauger and salt-grieve
with the greatest ease, and many a load went out of the salt
work before they detected his secret. A bag full of salt would
be standing in a corner ready for despatch, when his eye would
catch a glimpse of the gauger on his stealthy way over to
him. Outside he would go then, and send his assistant in.
"Now, " he would say to his man, " the bag
is ready, the air-hole (an opening in the roof) is open; as
soon as his (the gauger's)