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Cromarty Image Library

The roofless pottery - looking south
The Cromarty Archive
The roofless pottery - looking south

As many of you may know, Bärbel's decided that the time has come for the pottery to be renovated. After 15 years of working in a cold and damp building (and another 35 years before that for my parents) she decided that enough was enough. This gives the opportunity for a very unusual view of Gordons Lane from the now roofless pottery cottage.
Picture added on 03 April 2006
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Cromarty Pottery
This was my Aunt Stella's house in the 1950's, good to see it's getting further renovation, I hope the current cottage style, slated, will be retained.
Added by Clem Watson on 03 April 2006
Planning have insisted that the original red pantiles be put back on the roof as part of the renovation. This is the only cottage anywhere on the Black Isle, as far as I am aware, that had red pantiles, so Planning are keen that they be retained. We've always understood that the tiles were originally used as ballast on ships trading between here and Holland, and that some opportunistic cottage builder took them off the beach or out of the harbour. They're very difficult to get now, so Planning have said we can use modern equivalents on the back of the cottage, reserving the best of the old one for the more visible side. Hopefully the newer tiles will look alright too.

A gallery of building progress can also be seen online here
Added by Colin Dunn on 04 April 2006
Colin, Thank you for the 'ballast' side to the story, I'm sure the Conservation Architect Mr Duncan would have been intrigued by that one? Cullen Seatown area may have had roofing pan tiles from the same source. I have a project ongoing in that village at the moment, so I'll cross check for interest, and let you know.
Added by Clem Watson on 04 April 2006
The pantiles that I am aware of in the area are the ones shown here in Cromarty and at Udale, Conon Bridge, Corntown, Muir of Ord, Urray and Brora. Although Brora had its own brickworks, their bricks were not of very good quality and I don't believe they made pantiles there! Although some of the pantiles in this area may have come from Holland they are just as likely to have come from Leith as there was regular trading ships from there. Fife and the Lothians still have a significant of buildings with pantiles and some of these have been renovated with salvaged tiles. The tiles at Corntown Farm probably came from the Culloden brickworks and the bricks in the Farmhouse are the Culloden pattern. No surprise as the Estate was owned by Forbes of Culloden whose own brickworks produced a variety of products including flowerpots, drain tiles and pantiles. The cottage in the garden at Urray Old Manse had a fully tiled roof including glass pantiles for roof lights but it has been renovated in the last few years with modern tiles. Another possible source of pantiles could have been the brick and tile works at Whitehills at Banff which certainly had all the equipment for producing pantiles but I don't have any further information on its production. The Scottish Vernacular Buildings Working Group published an article of advice on re-using pantiles assuming you have enough spares to hand! In the South of Scotland several rows of slates often started the roof at eaves level but the only roof of that pattern in this area is the building at Udale Farm.
Added by Alasdair Cameron on 23 April 2006
Interestingly, David Alston visited the pottery at the weekend to look at some strange stonework discovered during renovation, and he agrees that it's much more likely that the pantiles used on the pottery cottages came from the Culloden brickworks.

Unfortunately, Planning have now stepped back from their initial acceptance of using modern tiles on the back of the pottery, and are insisting that original pantiles should be used on both sides.

Bärbel is now pulling her hair out, as it means a lot of work in trying to track down matching replacement pantiles, and could lead to a long delay in completing renovation which would wipe out her summer season, of course, as she is unable to actually do any pottery until it is completed.

Frankly, the whole thing is getting rather silly. The pantiles never did keep the weather out successfully, and re-usng them now will mean that they are purely a cosmetic encumbrance. Much better to replace them with slate.
Added by Colin on 24 April 2006
Could Bärbel make replica pantiles with that wonderful red clay of hers?
Added by Sheila on 25 April 2006
You're not the first to suggest it, Sheila. Unfortunately, she'd need different equipment, a different clay, a muuuuch bigger kiln, and about 3 months of work to do it, so it's just not practical. She'd also need a weatherproof pottery building to do it in, and there's the catch 22 - she couldn't complete the building 'til she has the tiles. Looks like she may have found a local source for original tiles, though, thanks to Alasdair Cameron.
Added by Colin on 26 April 2006
Hello, were these cottages known as Tileworks cottages? One of my uncles was born at Tileworks cottages, Culloden in 1907
Added by Peter Campbell on 01 November 2014
Sorry Peter, but this cottage is in Cromarty, not Culloden. The reference to Culloden above is to the tileworks where the tiles may have been made. Don't know if there were any cottages at the tileworks themselves.
Added by Colin Dunn on 02 November 2014
Thank you Colin, goodness after 8 years I did not expect such a rapid reply. I hope the pottery is going well. OK I see the errors of my assumption; with the research I have done I suspect the cottages were near to the Culloden brickworks and I guess there may well have been a tile works there too given their name and your reference. Thank you for responding.
Peter Campbell
Added by Peter Campbell on 02 November 2014
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