Meet the man who's spent nine years amassing a collection of 3,500 bricks

Chris Parsons
News Editor

Retired police sergeant Mark Cranston has amassed a collection that really took a long time to build – after hoarding 3,500 bricks.

Mr Cranston, 56, began the hobby in 2010 when he was looking for a brick as a doorstop for his garden shed and found a white painted one from a former colliery.

The discovery inspired him to look into the history of the brick and his passion for them grew from there.

In nine years, the dedicated collector has found bricks from England, Scotland, Wales and abroad – all of which he keeps in his garden shed.

His hoard has become so big he’s had to extend his shed, but he insists that “each brick tells a story”.

Labour of love: Mr Cranston insists that 'every brick tells a story'. (SWNS)

Mr Cranston, from Jedburgh, Scottish Borders, said: "I was just looking for a brick to keep the garage door open and the first I picked up had a name on it.

"The first brick was the one from Whitehill Colliery in Ayrshire which peaked my interest.

"When I looked it up online I was surprised by the history behind bricks.

"I started to see there was a lot more bricks out there.”

Mr Cranston also has a fire brick that was salvaged from the SS Politician, which ran aground in the Outer Hebrides in 1941 and was carrying 264,000 bottles of malt whisky – inspiring the famous novel Whisky Galore.

Mr Cranston said: 'I was just looking for a brick to keep the garage door open and the first I picked up had a name on it.' (SWNS)

He has a brick that in the late 90s was retrieved from the demolition of the execution block at Glasgow's HMP Barlinnie, Scotland’s largest prison.

Mr Cranston also has a Scottish-made brick from an old gold mine in Washington state, USA, and the oldest brick he has is a drainage tile from 1833.

In 2014, Mr Cranston set up the website Scottish Brick History, a database of thousands of bricks found by him and other collectors and enthusiasts.

To find bricks, Mr Cranston seeks out old buildings that are being demolished and scours old brick work sites, rivers and shorelines.


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He also has hundreds of contacts in Scotland and abroad who notify him about finds, tip him off about building demolitions and useful locations for sourcing centuries old rubble.

"Over time I’ve met other folk out and about, online and through email,” Mr Cranston said.

"They look for bricks for me or send me photographs and drop me hints of buildings coming down.

"There’s also other people who’ve once had a brick collection and donated them to me.

Brick by brick: Proud Mark Cranston with part of his huge collection. (SWNS)

"I’ve got over 3,000 Scottish bricks and about 450 English, Welsh and foreign bricks.

"Scotland was a huge producer and it was massive for the UK.”

Mr Cranston has racked up around 75% of his collection through his own excursions and 25% from donations.

And collecting is a family affair, as Mark’s wife Karen, 47, son Jonathan, 28, and daughter Hannah, 30, have also got involved with his brick hunting.

He said: "My son and daughter have been out and picked up a brick here or there and my wife tolerates it and she’s also been out on brick hunts with me before.

"I’ve never been out on a trip and not came back with anything.

"It takes up a lot of time but it’s a passion.”

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