George McLauchlan opened Sinclairtown Pottery in 1868 in Rosslyn Street, Kirkcaldy. He was born in 1830 in Prestonpans but moved later to Glasgow. He may have been the son of James McLauchlan of Clyde Pottery. In 1871 he employed 12 men, 12 boys and 9 women. In March 1874 the pottery was put up for sale but it did not sell.
The creditors acquired the pottery and in 1874 it was put up for sale for £400. It was sold to David Kirk and his sons for £775. In the same year ‘power’ was acquired from the adjacent linen factory, which must have greatly assisted production processes. Robert Kirk, a son of David, was the sole partner in 1884. He continued to work the pottery but in 1889 he decided to move to Philadelphia and put the pottery up for sale.
Robert’s sister, Isabella, had married a Lawrence Buist, described as a part time potter/weaver. Their son David Kirk Buist became a potter and worked for his uncle, Robert. The sale was not successful but David Buist operated the pottery for his uncle. In 1890, James Buist, a brother of David, purchased the pottery and leased it to a new company: Lawrence Buist and Sons.
The pottery appears to have operated successfully and in 1898 were given permission by the Dean of Guild Court to build a new pottery in Oswald Road, Kirkcaldy. The old pottery continued to operate until 1900, by then production had commenced at the new site. Lawrence Snr continued as senior partner until his death in 1911 and was replaced by Lawrence Jnr. His other brothers, David and John, continued as partners.
The business appears to have continued to thrive during The Great War but during the 1920’s trading conditions deteriorated, as was the case for many potteries. Lawrence Jnr’s health deteriorated in 1925 and he died in 1928. The pottery closed shortly afterwards. Although John, the remaining partner, appears to have wished to reopen the works, it was finally sold to a local scrap dealer for £650 in 1934.
Fleming states (pages 198-199 reprint) that the firm made household ware from local clays, their teapots are in great demand.
In 1990 there was an excavation of the Sinclairtown site, one small broken baking dish was discovered with an impressed mark Buist and Son, Fireproof, Kirkcaldy. This is the only known marked piece. Nineteen types of basic teapot bodies mostly in Rockingham glaze were also found, together with different lids, handles and spouts giving twenty-six different designs. Occasionally sherds were found with relief designs such as pineapple, lily or bark effect as well as ornate panelling.
In addition bowls, pie dishes, mugs and chamber pot sherds were uncovered. There is evidence from sherds that sponge-printed wares were attempted. For example a mug was discovered decorated in violet with a bird sitting on a leafy branch, with geometric patterns around the rim, all sponge printed.
There is no evidence of large scale spongeware production.
Articles in SPHR
Articles in Bulletin (Members only)
Typical Backstamps & Marks
Buist and Son, Fireproof Kirkcaldy
No photographs of marks are held by the Society.