Mark Cranston is an avid collector of bricks who has amassed more than 2,000 of them. And now the 53-year-old policeman, from Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders, has been shortlisted for a major award in recognition of his dedication to Scotland’s industrial past. He’s in line for a gong at the 2016 Scottish Heritage Angel Awards in the Investigating and Recording category.
Mark, who runs the Scottish Brick History website, was inspired to start his collection by his dad who worked as a contractor.
Over the last four years, he has spent his spare time and holidays rummaging around long abandoned brickworks and derelict industrial sites to recover bricks to add to his collection.
He has travelled all over the country in his pursuit of building a national database of all the bricks ever manufactured in Scotland.
Mark now knows more about the industry and its manufacturers than just about anyone.
But he says his passion is important, as Scotland was once world renowned for the quality and diversity of its bricks.
He said: “I’m delighted and humbled that the much under-appreciated brick is at last finding a little piece of limelight. I believe that all the products manufactured at Scottish brickworks were an integral part of Scotland’s industrial, agricultural and social heritage.”
He added: “Brickmaking is a much forgotten part of Scotland’s industrial and social history and all efforts should be made to preserve what we can of what is left.
“Scottish bricks turn up all over the world. Scotland helped build the industrial revolution across the globe. But there is only one brickworks left in the country – there used to be hundreds.
I’ve been contacted by six different underwater archaeologists who have found Scottish bricks on shipwrecks off the coast of Australia, Russia and South America. I’ll try to put an age on the date of the bricks, which, in turn, will help identify the shipwrecks.”
The awards will be held at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh, next month.