The picture above shows the base of one of the kilns of the former Saracen Pottery, identified within an evaluation trench by staff from Glsgow University Archaeological Research Division (GUARD). This evaluation, which followed on from monitoring conducted on the excavation of site investigation holes, took place on the advice of the West of Scotland Archaeology Service.
The Possil or Saracen Pottery, which was constructed around 1881 for the Saracen Pottery Company, was a major producer of stoneware commercial goods in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The pottery was latterly (from mid-WWI until mid-WWII) in the ownership of Tennents the brewers, who thereby safeguarded their supply of stoneware beer bottles, particularly for the export market. Other wares continued to be produced until the factory's closure in 1942.
The extract from the 2nd Edition Town Plan shown above indicates that the main kiln banks lay in a building running along the Mansion Street frontage, behind an internal courtyard entered via a pend through the range fronting Denmark Street. The courtyard measured approximately 22m N-S by 20m E-W and had small rectangular structures of varying sizes built against its W, S, and E walls. Mapping conventions used on the 2nd Edition map show four kiln hovels in a square arrangement protruding above the roof level of a rectangular building measuring some 35m N-S by 20m E-W. On the 3rd Edition and subsequent O.S. maps the convention of showing protruding kiln hovels seems no longer to be in use, but the building they occupied is shown to have been extended to the W by a further 15m, completely filling an outer yard area adjoining tenements and their back-courts shown on the earlier map. This extension would have allowed the construction of a further two kilns of the same size if required. It may be that this extension was also part of the Macdougall & Sons 1902 expansion of the factory. The 3rd Edition map also shows a different arrangement of small structures in the internal courtyard, and a semi-circular feature at the rear (west) wall of the northernmost part of the orignal factory building fronting Denmark Street. This may be a further small kiln. The 4th Edition map shows a similar arrangement of main buildings to that shown on the 3rd Edition, but with the addition of a roof over the internal courtyard.
On its acquisition, the pottery was set up as a subsidiary company of the brewers, and under Tennent's indirect ownership continued to produce other wares in smaller quantities. Some considerable research has been done (H. E. Kelly, Scottish Pottery Historical Review No. 17, 1995) on the records of this later phase, but the full range of material produced on the site, particularly before the Tennent period of ownership is not known. Documentary sources give good accounts of changes to the plant and the output of the factory in the inter-war period, and up to the factory's closure as a going concern in 1942.
As can be seen, the kiln structure shown in the photograph at the top of the page survives below a red blaes football pitch, the site to the west having been latterly occupied by a primary school. While some of the structures revealed by GUARD do indicate a level of disturbance resulting from the re-use of the site subsequent to the demolition of the pottery, elements such as kiln bases are of sufficiently robust construction to have survived largely intact.