industrial heritage at baileyfield, portobello

exploring edinburgh's industries

Drying kilns under excavationThe ongoing Baileyfield South project has involved the undertaking of a series of archaeological works on land previously occupied by warehouses and offices at 1-7 Baileyfield Crescent, Portobello, Edinburgh.

The project was undertaken on behalf of Barrett Homes Ltd and started in the summer of 2017. The most substantial part of the works involved the large-scale excavation and recording of structural remains associated with both the Abercorn Brick & Tile Works and the subsequent United Bottle Works. These remains included early 19th century brick kilns (below, centre), floors, flues, chimney bases, brick drying structures and numerous wall foundations. The remains represented all phases of the brick works development as illustrated on historical mapping from the late 18th century to its demolition in the early 20th century.

The works also revealed that significant late 19th to 20th century infilling and levelling had taken place on site, with dumped material exceeding 4m. These deposits were especially deep along the southern and eastern parts of the development area.

A large number of small finds were recovered from the dumped material infilling the structures. These consisted of bottles, glass slag, stamped bricks and stoneware from the surrounding factories. The majority of the material appeared to date to the early 20th century and had been deposited once the brick works had been partially demolished and the area incorporated within the United Bottle Works.

A significant number of stamped fire bricks were recorded lying in situ within the drying kilns (below, left). These bricks represent the final firing undertaken within the brickworks before the operation went out of business between 1909 and 1919, with the site then being taken over by the United Bottle Works.

Baileyfield montage

Local interest in the site was high and resulted in a well-attended open day arranged in conjunction with Barratt Homes.

In August 2018, further excavations along the south-western periphery of the site revealed structural remains associated with the later 19th century development of the site.

The excavation of the site is ongoing with further excavation planned for the latter part of 2018.