Brick collecting gives you wings

Pic Greg Macvean - 18/10/2016 - 07971 826 457'Scottish Heritage Angel Awards 2016 - Assembly Rooms, George Street
Pic Greg Macvean - 18/10/2016 - 07971 826 457'Scottish Heritage Angel Awards 2016 - Assembly Rooms, George Street

Jedburgh man Mark Cranston was presented with a Scottish Heritage Angel Award in recognition of his research into the Scottish brick industry.

As reported in The Southern last month, Mark’s huge collection of Scottish bricks and his work towards documenting the country’s rich history of brick-making had caught the eye of award organisers.

Mark Cranston of Jedburgh with his collection of Scottish Bricks.

Mark Cranston of Jedburgh with his collection of Scottish Bricks.

And at a special ceremony at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms last Tuesday, hosted by author and broadcaster Vanessa Collingridge, he won the Investigating and Recording category.

Mark said: “I’m delighted to get the award, but even happier that the former brick and tile manufacturing industry in Scotland is getting the recognition it deserves.

“I would like to say a big thanks to all those many people who helped with the project by donating bricks and memorabilia, or pointing me in the right direction of where to find them, or indeed supplying information on the old brick works.

“Every day I’m contacted by people across Scotland, and from around the world, which just demonstrates the impact of this now-forgotten industry on our country, and the industrial revolution across the globe.

“I hope to continue this project for many years to come and build our understanding of this important aspect of Scottish history, and as such I would encourage anyone with an interest in this topic, big or small, to please get in touch.”

The winners were decided by a judging panel consisting of Professor John Hume (OBE), conservation architect Andrew Wright (OBE), Georgia Vullinghs, of the Scotland’s Urban Past Youth Forum, Colin McLean, chair of the Scottish Civic Trust, and Vanessa Collingridge.

The judges said: “We were extremely impressed with Mark’s commitment and dedication to his project.

“This was clearly a real labour of love, but it has created a unique record of Scotland’s brickmarks which will be of great benefit to historians, conservators, architects and many other people working and volunteering in the historic environment.

“Mark’s enthusiasm and single-mindedness shone through. He is a worthy winner.”

During the four years since Mark began his project, he has travelled all over Scotland to gather both information and bricks, trawling libraries and archives, as well as meeting with many people who assist with locating and donating bricks to his cause.

There currently exists no official national record or index of Scottish brickmarks and, prior to Mark’s project, our knowledge extended to just 350 Scottish brick makers. Mark now has more than 2,000 examples, so has expanded understanding on the subject considerably.

Other nominees in the Investigating and Recording category included a project by the residents of Baberton Mains History Group in Edinburgh to research and record the reminiscences of original occupants of the Baberton Mains houses as well as the history of the estate itself and the land on which it is built; and the How Old Are Yew? project in Castlemilk, Glasgow, which was formed to research and share the history of the now-demolished Castlemilk House and its grounds, which form Castlemilk Park. Both initiatives received a commendation from the judges.

John Pelan, Director of the Scottish Civic Trust, added: “The Angel Awards are proof of the amazing work done by thousands of heritage volunteers across Scotland. Their achievements are of great benefit, in economic, social and cultural terms, to Scotland’s historic environment. The awards are an opportunity to highlight their efforts and acknowledge their commitment, passion and enthusiasm. We are very grateful to the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation for their support for these unique awards.”

The awards are delivered in partnership between the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, the Scottish Civic Trust, Historic Environment Scotland, Archaeology Scotland and the Scottish Government.

To view the full details and to watch the films of the inaugural Scottish Heritage Angel Awards winners please visit