Origins & History

Heritage & Museum

Clan Court & Household

University Press


Golfing Delights


Court Records

Picture Gallery

Manor of Milton Malsor
East Lodge Prestonpans
Laird of Glencairn

Shop Online

News & Email

Site News

Prestonpans and Vicinity

Cover Contents 1 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26
28 30 32 33 34 36 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 56 58 60 62 64
66 68 70 72 74 76 78 80 81 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 100 102
104 106 108 110 112 114 116 118 120 122 124 126 128 130 132 134 136 138 140 142
144 146 148 150 152 154 156 158 160 162 164 166 168 170 172 174 176 177 178 180
182 184 186 188 190 192 194 196 198 200 201 202 204 206 208 209 210 212 214 216
218 220 222 224 226 228 229 230 232 234 236 238 240 242 244 246 248 249 250 252
254 256 257 258 259 260 261                          

production of honest soaps that make clean in many a washtub. In his younger days he knew the difficulties of procuring more suitable materials than rough fat and soda got from the ashes of seaweed, etc. But 'tis a far cry to kelp burning and rudimentary processes, and now the purest of refined animal and vegetable oils combine with snow-white alkali to make a model cleanser for cottage or castle, for dye work or tweed mill.
" Knowledge grows from more to more. " For centuries there has been seen waste, here and elsewhere. Glycerine is a by-product of hard-soap making, but only comparatively recently has its true value been ascertained and every effort made to extract and use it. The latest addition to the establishment is a glycerine recovery plant, and now every day Samson's famous riddle is solved and reversed, as " out of the strong comes forth sweetness, " and out of the sweetness comes forth strength, for what is more powerful than dynamite and the other explosives to the making of which much of this glycerine goes?

Previous to the occupancy of Mr Mellis, the brothers Messrs William and Thomas Paterson conducted the soap works, and carried on a very large trade for a long series of years. Even at that period the output was about 90, 000 lbs. of hard soap per annum.
When writing of soap, we may mention that the use of paraffin as a great help on washing day was brought under notice by a worthy Prestonpans lady, Mrs William Taylor, Dovecot, in a letter to the Scotsman, and many have reaped where she has sowed.

This has been from its beginning, and continues to be, one of the most flourishing factories in the parish. Its originator, Mr Charles Belfield, was grandfather to the brothers now conducting the business. He came from the pottery districts of Derbyshire about the beginning of the present century, at the instigation of the Earl of Stair, to conduct certain branches of pottery work in a manufactory on his estate at Cousland, near Dalkeith. From there he migrated to Prestonpans, and worked in Gordon's pottery till its close.
In 1832 Charles and his eldest son James opened these premises as potters, towards the west end of Prestonpans. They were among the first to make " white " or " sanitary ware " in Scotland, and so famous did their " white ware " from the old sea-side village become, that before long there was scarcely a firm of plumbers in Edinburgh or Leith but had their name flourishing in the order books of the Belfields.
Shortly afterwards they added to their already extensive business the manufacture of Rockingham teapots. These now, and for years past, are being dispatched over the whole habitable globe. There is a large staff of men and boys continually engaged in this very delicate handicraft.
Some time previous to 1852 the manufacture of drain pipes, etc., was added to the other branches of industry carried on here, and during that year Mr Charles Belfield invented a system of hand-pressing pipes, but unfortunately the inventor neglected to secure his discovery by patent. The secret was all too soon disclosed to other firms; steam power was applied and the original idea further developed, but it did not add to the wealth or fame of the inventor. Prior to this these pipes were all thrown or spun upon a potter's wheel. They were, as a rule, fifteen inches long, narrow at the one end and wide at the other so that they could easily fit into each other, for the faucet, or flange, had not yet come into general use. A great many of these pipes were sent at one time into Forfarshire for the purpose of conveying water supplies to towns. They were extensively used in Prestonpans not only for drainage purposes but were actually used for a time as gas pipes. Some time ago quite a number turned up when modern gas pipes were being laid in the streets of the village.
These premises, previous to being turned into a pottery, were occupied by one Laidlaw, who was a manufacturer of salt, etc., there. He was also a manufacturer of magnesia on the same premises.
Back to top