Supplement to Official Gazette, July 14, 1949
Document laid at Meeting of Assembly of 29th March, 1949
A Proposed Clayworking Industry
J. R. BRANNAM
16th December, 1948
Introduction .. .. .. .. ..
Part I. Materials and Conditions etc.
Part II. Commercial and Financial..
. Part III. Summary and Recommendations
Appendices A--D ..
This Report endeavours to provide definite recommendations as to the pro-
posed setting-up of a clay working industry in Barbados, these recommendations
being based upon facts and deductions enumerated in Parts I and II, which are
themselves the result of some nine months' experimental work carried out in the
island. They are summarized in Part III.
Exhaustive and detailed technicalities regarding clays, glazes, firing, etc.,
have been omitted wherever these have no direct bearing on the argument in ques-
tion, while an attempt has been made to shorten the Report as far as possible,
consistent with the proper reasoning of the various points made.
A very brief history of the circumstances leading to the experiments, and
a brief account of the experiments themselves, may be of interest, and are here
Clay-working has existed in Barbados for longer than can be accurately
traced, the art of making primitive pottery articles having been probably origin-
ally imported from Africa and handed down from one generation to another up
to the present day.
In addition there is evidence that building bricks and tiles were manufac-
tured at one period in the Greenlands area, St. Andrew; the reason for the ulti-
* mate failure of this is not known, but perhaps one cause was lack of fuel when
the tropical forest finally disappeared from the island.
An excellent summary of the existing Chalky Mount industry has been given
by C. A. Coppin in a report dated 4th May, 1942,* and it is felt unnecessary to
enlarge further upon this.
With the assistance of the Hon. Frank Hutson, Mr. Coppin and Mr. McKin-
non an attempt was made in 1944 by Barbados Welfare Limited to improve this
industry by the erection of gas-fired kilns at Turner's Hall, and the manufac-
ture there, under supervision, of flower pots and domestic pottery.
This attempt ceased in 1946 owing to lack of capital, lack of technical
experience, and financial difficulties, and application was made by Barbados
Welfare Limited through Colonial Development and Welfare for a grant, to
enable a Ceramist to be brought from the United Kingdom with a view to con-
tinuing the work thus commenced.
As a result of this application, I arrived in the Colony at the beginning of
1948, and in view of the then imminent winding-up of Barbados Welfare Limit-
ed, responsibility for the scheme was assumed by Government as from that date.
The use of the laboratory and certain other parts of the buildings and
machinery of the Cassava Factory at Lancaster was given by the Director of
Agriculture, together with the assistance of the manager and skeleton staff of
this factory whenever time was available from their other duties.
British Union Oil Company supplied gas for experimental purposes without
'Work commenced in the middle of January 1948 with the locating and
sampling of as many of the island's clay deposits as could be found, with the
assistance of geological reports, local information and personal searches.
Laboratory tests were carried out on these clays with improvised equipment,
including a small gas-fired kiln, which, after being rebuilt and modified some
four times, became a satisfactory medium both for firing trial pieces and for
testing the use of the natural gas.
As a result of the laboratory work it was decided to proceed with tests on
* a larger scale of those clays which seemed promising, and to make from them
sample quantities of articles which appeared capable of manufacture.
For this purpose further apparatus was improvised, consisting of some small
clay-preparing machinery, a power-driven potter's wheel, a tile press, a rectangu-
lar downdraught oven, fired by natural gas, and sundry other items.
This was completed by end of June 1948, and from then until 16th October
1948, on which date it was necessary to cease experiments owing to the factory
being required for its normal purpose, trial production on a very small scale of
certain articles was carried on, with a view to ascertaining suitability of mate-
rials, manufacturing methods, costs and probable output figures etc.
Two Chalky Mount potters, who had previously worked at Turner's Hall,
were employed under instruction during this period, together with one foreman,
four other men and two boys.
Experiments were handicapped throughout by lack of suitable apparatus
and the impossibility of obtaining it quickly and at a reasonable cost, in view
of the smallness of the original grant. Much time had therefore to be expended
*("An Investigation of Pottery Making at Chalky Mount," by C. A. Coppin, B.A. Sc., A.I.C.)
Samples of the types of articles which appear capable of manufacture as a
result of these experiments were shown at the Barbados Industrial Exhibition,
December, 1948, but it should be noted that :-
(a) Shapes, sizes, colours, etc., would in no way be limited to those shown.
(b) Owing to present lack of proper manufacturing facilities, and of train-
ed personnel, the workmanship of some of the samples, e.g., roof tiles,
was far from perfect.
I desire to express my most sincere appreciation of the services of Mr. Ben
Moore, who most actively assisted with the experiments throughout, and without
whose enthusiasm, ingenuity and co-operation, progress would have been very
Materials and Considerations Affecting
A Clayworking Industry
(1) Raw Materials
The materials required can be broadly classified into :-
(1) Clay for formation of the body of the product.
(2) Auxiliary materials such as sand or quartz, for controlling plasticity,
shrinkage and fusibility of the clay.
(3) Decorative materials, such as the constituents of glazes, body stains,
(4) Chemicals and other materials used in the manufacturing processes,
such as Barium Carbonate, Plaster of Paris, etc.
Of the above, Barbados possesses fair quantities of Nos. 1 and 2, the quali-
ties and selection of which are here briefly discussed :-
Deposits of secondary clays exist in many places, chiefly in the St. Andrews
By means of a Report* made in 1944 by the Geologist of the British Union
Oil Company Ltd., and from local information and personal searches, as many as
possible of these deposits have been located and tested, and the resulting informa-
tion is tabulated at Appendix "A".
The existence of further deposits in different localities is by no means im-
probable, but it is likely that clay in them would approximate closely to one or
other of the varieties already tested.
It will be seen that :-
(a) No deposits of China Clay, plastic white-burning clay, Cornish Stone,
Felspar or Fireclay have been found.
(b) All the clays found, with the exception of a minor deposit at Chalky
Mount, are of the plastic red-burning type, with a comparatively low
Point (a) above, allied with other circumstances in the island, virtually
eliminates the possibility of making white china and earthenware, white wall
tiles, sanitary ware or high-grade firebricks; Point (b) indicates opportunities
for the manufacture of building materials and red-ware articles generally.
Of the clays available, it is considered that the Greenlands-Bell Hill va-
riety is the most suitable for exploitation. This is a soft, red-burning shale, pro-
viding high plasticity after weathering and crushing, having a fusing point of
about 1100 C., and interspersed with thin seams of ferruginous sands and iron-
It has three objectionable features :-
(1) High shrinkage, with consequent tendency to warping and cracking.
(2) A quantity of small limestone nodules, giving rise to splitting and chip-
ping if left untreated in the body.
(3) A percentage of soluble salts, which cause unsightly scumming on the
surface of terra-cotta ware and building materials.
Nevertheless, with stable mechanical and chemical treatment this clay is
considered capable of making :-
Roofing tiles. Floor tiles
Field dyain-pipes. Flower pots and terra cotta ware.
An ample amount of it exists to produce commercial quantities of the above
articles for many years.
Next in order of preference come the Morgan Lewis and Windy Corner
deposits, very similar in most respects to the first-mentioned, and possibly at one
time forming part of the same vast deposit; since deposition, however, they
appear to have been subjected to different physical treatment, causing them to
progress further towards formation of shale or slate. As a result, they will no
longer revert readily to plastic clay on admixture with water without consider-
able preliminary grinding, and must therefore be considered economically un-
suitable for flower-pots, pottery, etc., but still quite adequate for building
materials such as bricks, hollow blocks, floor tiles, etc., in which a higher propor-
tion of non-plastic material is in fact an advantage.
("Inventory of the Barbados Rocks and their Possible Utilisation" by Alfred Senn, Ph. D.)
The remaining clays tested to date are considered of little importance, by
reason either of unsuitable characteristics or their occurrence in quantities too
small to be of commercial use; it is therefore not proposed to discuss them.
Large deposits of silica sands, with a grain size varying from 1/4 down-
wards, and with a fired colour from white to dark red, are to be found in num-
erous places in the St. Andrews district, some of them in close proximity to, or
intermingled with, the clay deposits already mentioned.
While not all these sands possess suitable chemical and physical properties
for ceramic use, it is possible, by careful selection, to find material suitable for :-
(a) Admixture in a clay body as an opening agent, for the manufacture of
(b) Use as a glaze material, in place of ground flint.
(c) Sundry minor uses, such as the "placing" of pottery in the kilns, etc.
The quantities of these sands likely to be required are not large, probably
in the neighbourhood of 20% of the total tonnage of clay body used, but their
occurrence in the area is nevertheless a considerable asset.
The possible use of such sands for the manufacture of sand-lime bricks, con-
crete blocks and similar products does not come within the scope of this Report.
While, strictly speaking, this substance cannot be considered a ceramic
material, it may briefly be mentioned here on account of its potential value for
the manufacture of insulating bricks and blocks.
Preliminary tests have shown that the deposits in the Cleland area are suit-
able for such manufacture, and, subject to more extensive trials, and to the con-
siderations outlined in Part II of this Report, it is felt that a limited production
of such articles might be possible at a later date.
The extent of the deposits is not yet verified, but is thought to be consider-
The remaining raw materials required, viz. glaze constituents, colouring 0
oxides, Plaster of Paris and sundry other chemicals, do not occur in Barbados,
nor, as far as is known at present, in any part of the West Indies, although fur-
ther enquiries are being actively conducted to verify this.
Since, however, the proportion of these materials used is comparatively
small, with the possible exception of Plaster of Paris in certain cases, and since
also their preparation is normally carried out by specialist firms for the industry
as a whole, the necessity for importation of such items from England or the
United States need not be considered a serious drawback.
The largest single item in the annual operating costs of a plant producing
building materials is normally the fuel bill, while in pottery manufacture this
item ,although somewhat less in proportion, is still very considerable.
The availability and cost of suitable fuel is therefore of major importance
in the consideration of manufacturing possibilities.
Barbados has at present a supply of natural gas, under the control of the
British Union Oil Company Ltd., of very pure composition and available at
For ceramic purposes, this gas offers advantages of :-
(a) Cleanliness in burning.
(b) Lack of sulphur.
(c) Ease of handling and control.
(d) Non-necessity for special storage arrangements or expensive burning
(e) Present advantageous price and availability compared with other fuels
such as coal and oil.
It has two disadvantages :-
(1) Present supply lines are limited to a small portion only of the island,
none of which is in proximity to suitable clay deposits, while the cost
of laying a special line is estimated to be high, probably in the region
of 1,000 per mile.
(2) Dr. Senn, in his Report already mentioned, considers that the supply
of this gas may be limited, and advises that potential industries de-
pending solely upon it should not be considered.
In contrast to point (2) however, it is apparently now considered justifi-
able to extend the use of this gas for many purposes in the island and further-
more, the conversion of pottery or brick kilns from gas to other forms of fuel is
by no means impracticable, although usually at the cost of some loss in efficiency.
In the particular case of Barbados, it is undoubtedly the combined incidence
of raw materials and gas at its present price which makes the prospect of a
ceramic industry attractive.
In the event of failure of the gas, or a sharp increase in the price thereof,
the costs of operation would undoubtedly increase considerably, thereby reduc-
ing the potential advantage at present held by Barbados over other areas in the
Nevertheless, on consideration of all the above points, and on the evidence
at present available, it is felt that the risk would be justifiable, and that this
natural gas forms unquestionably the most suitable fuel for a ceramic project.
It is therefore not proposed for the moment to discuss the use of other fuels
for this purpose.
Labour required to produce building materials may be broadly regarded
as entirely unskilled or semi-skilled, the latter category being small, and consist-
ing only of the pit foreman, foreman brick or tile maker, mechanic and two or
For the manufacture of pottery, in addition to the actual potters or "throw-
ers" themselves, it would be justifiable in this country to consider certain of
those who subsequently handle, decorate and glaze the ware as being also in the
A plentiful supply of labour exists to fill the unskilled and semi-skilled
classes, the type of knowledge and experience necessary in the latter being
capable of easy acquisition by intelligent personnel under supervision during
the first few months of operation.
In the skilled class, however, which applies only to pottery, the position is
not so good, for whereas sufficient skill in the subsequent handling and decora-
tion of the ware can be acquired on the spot by suitable men in a matter of
months, the art of the "throwers" themselves is not so simple, and requires
* experience and training over a considerable period, normally reckoned in years,
before good ware can be produced at a commercial rate.
Throwers of a sort are already available in the island in the form of the
Chalky Mount potters, who have passed the knack down from father to son for
many generations, and who are accustomed from childhood to the "feel" and
handling of clay on a potter's wheel.
From tests conducted at Lancaster Factory, it appears that the best of these,
amounting probably to not more than half-a-dozen all told, would be capable,
after instruction and practice for a few weeks, of making on a power-driven
wheel, articles to a reasonable standard of size, shape and weight etc.
It is improbable, however, that each individual would be able to make more
than a limited number of shapes and sizes, while it is certain that, owing to the
peculiar manner in which they are accustomed to handle clay on the wheel, and
also partly to psychological reasons, they will never approach the speed and
accuracy of the European thrower.
E.G. making 6" flower-pots to a tolerance of 1/s" and 1/2 oz. weight, the
normal output of the latter to-day, averaged over several factories, is between
720 and 850 per 81/2 hour day, i.e. 85 to 100 per hour; the most promising of
the Chalky Mount potters so far tested, after some months practice, and spurred
on by piece work rates and promises of ample reward, has been unable or unwil-
ling to produce more than 40 per hour over an approximate 7 hour day.
Added to this is the extremely difficult attitude of the Chalky Mount people
themselves, who although professing anxiety to work, are nevertheless prepared
to do so only at exorbitant rates of pay, at times and periods which suit them
alone, to absent themselves as they please, and to produce varying rates of out-
put and hours of work which would be extremely difficult to fit into the rigid
schedule and organisation of a factory.
These characteristics are probably due to several factors :-
(a) Previous total lack of security in their trade.
(b) A supposed scarcity value.
(c) Remoteness of the Chalky Mount area, resulting in lack of intercourse
and consequent mutual distrust between its inhabitants and the re-
mainder of the population.
(d) The custom, inherent in their community and type of industry, of
working how and when they please, or as dictated by hunger or other
(e) Ill-education, irresponsibility and the general outlook of such primitive
It is possible, however, that, faced with the prospect of permanent and
regular employment, adequate pay and the chance to better themselves, and
handled with endless tact, patience and firmness' in the early stages, some of the
better among these may be gradually weaned from most of the faults mentioned,
and become useful and fairly skilled workers, particularly if removed from the
bad surroundings and influences of their kind in the Chalky Mount area.
The alternatives to their employment are :-
(1) To make the pottery by machinery, using semi-skilled labour; this
would very drastically reduce the number of shapes and sizes which
could be produced, and would entail importation of a skilled mould-
maker, special machinery and large quantities of Plaster of Paris an-
(2) To ignore the local potters entirely and to import a skilled European
thrower for the purpose of teaching entirely fresh personnel of a dif-
Supposing that such an instructor could be obtained at the present
time, at a reasonable rate of pay (probably not less than 500-600
p.a.), it is estimated that at least one year from the time of his com-
mencing work would be required to train suitable men in the making
of a limited number of simple articles, while a further one to two years
would elapse before commercial rates of output could be attained.
After earnest consideration of all the foregoing points therefore, I feel that
the best procedure for pottery manufacture, (as opposed to building materials),
would be to persevere further for a time with the Chalky Mount personnel, in
the hope of their improving as mentioned above, and if after, say, twelve months
experimental working, they are finally proved unsuitable, to import one or more
European throwers as foreman-potters and instructors, the industrial situation
in Europe being perhaps by that time more conducive to such importation.
(4) Direction and Management
This is of considerable importance in an industry which it is proposed to
set up at a great distance from others of its kind, implying in the management
a degree of all-round technical ability and self-reliance superior to that normally *
required in areas where specialist advice and assistance in various branches of
the trade can be easily and frequently obtained. On the other hand, this same
absence of similar industry, and hence of competition, perhaps simplifies and
lightens the commercial and marketing aspects of such a project.
There would appear to be two possibilities for Barbados in this respect :-
(A) To import a qualified and experienced ceramist as full-time manager
of the enterprise.
From a technical point of view this is unquestionably the best
course, ensuring adequate training of personnel on the spot, smooth-
ness and economy of operation, rapid correction of faults, development
of new lines as required, and general overall experienced supervision.
In this particular case, however, it has certain disadvantages :-
(a) High cost : it is estimated that under present conditions the employ-
ment of a man suitably trained and experienced in the manufacture
of both pottery and building materials would entail a commencing
salary of not less than 1,000-1,250 p.a., plus allowances, passages.
(b) Difficulty of obtaining such a man at the present time, willing to settle
permanently in Barbados, where social and material conditions are
delightful enough, but where the prospects of advancement in the in-
dustry as a whole are negligible, and willing also to abandon present
connections in the said industry for the more uncertain prospect of an
.entirely new enterprise in a previously untried area.
(c) Lack of experience in local labour conditions, customs and psychology, *
etc. ; this is of considerable importance in view of the known difficulty
in industry generally of adapting managing or supervisory personnel
from one area to the workers of another, even within the confines of
the United Kingdom itself.
(B) The second possibility is that of employing a local man as the actual
manager of the plant, and relying for his preliminary instruction, and
subsequent technical supervision and advice, upon any central office
which may be set up to assist and advise ceramic industries in the West
This would provide a less degree of technical efficiency, at any rate
in the early stages, but would considerably reduce the management
costs, would eliminate point (b) above, and would facilitate the ap-
pointment of a man with previous business experience of the area as
: regards marketing and other conditions.
In addition, it is considered that a qualified and experienced cera-
mist would more easily be obtained to fill the advisory and instructional
post envisaged above than as the direct manager of an individual plant,
in view of the much wider prospect offered, while the cost of filling
such a post would then be borne by the West Indies as a whole, rather
than by one island only.
I am of the opinion that Method (2) above would be the most suitable and
practicable, provided the appropriate authorities would undertake the setting-up
of the necessary central office, which has not yet been considered.
If, at some future date, rapid expansion of the Barbados project necessitated
the importation of an independent technical expert, this would still be feasible,
and would in fact be facilitated by the prospects being more accurately known.
and by liaison with the United Kingdom and other areas provided through the
Commercial and Financial Factors
. (1) Marketing, Consumption and Output
It has been shown in Part I that raw materials and other conditions exist,
or can be provided, for the manufacture of the following articles:-
(a) Building bricks.
(b) Hollow blocks.
(c) Roofing tiles.
(d) Floor tiles.
(e) Flower pots, terra-cotta ware, field drain pipes.
(f) Domestic pottery (vases, bowls, jugs, ash trays, etc., etc., with consid-
erable range of shape, size and colour).
(g) Insulating bricks.
It is necessary now to consider for which of these articles a market exists,
or can be developed, on a commercial scale.
It is considered that items (a) and (b) have comparatively little application
for the moment in Barbados, because of the existence of a perfectly good build-
ing material ready to hand in the form of the coral limestone, and of attempts
now being made to cut this by machine and deliver it ready trimmed on the
building site at an economic price. To provide 1 sq. ft. of wall requires 1 cu. ft.
of stone, of which the present price is understood to be lid., untrimmed and
unlaid; the same area with cavity wall brick construction, would require 101
bricks 9" x 41/2" x 3", which at the estimated minimum price of 100/- per 1,000,
would cost 1/1d. unlaid.
Using hollow blocks, 12" x 8" x 4", the same area again would cost 7d. at
an estimated minimum price of 4d. per block, but this would provide only a
single 4" wall, normally only regarded as suitable for panelling, and requiring
reinforced pillars or other construction to carry the actual weight of the build-
The present cost of trimming stone on the site would be offset to some extent
by the longer time required to lay the equivalent area in brick, while an addition-
Sal consideration is the present absence of skilled bricklayers.
As regards export possibilities, cost of freight is very high on articles which
have large bulk and weight in proportion to their value, while, under local con-
ditions of handling and transhipment, breakage would also be high. E.g. it is
known that the price of Trinidad hollow blocks, exported to the Windward
Islands, is approximately double the price of the same blocks in Trinidad, owing
to the above factors and merchants' percentage, etc.
S It is felt, therefore, that while small quantities of facing bricks may possibly
find a market locally for decorative purposes, and while a proportion of hollow
blocks may be sold for partition walls and similar structures, the setting-up of
a brick or block-making plant alone on a commercial scale is not justifiable for
the moment, at any rate until further details of machine-cutting of the stone,
and its likely future price per cubic foot, ready trimmed, are known.
Item (c), roof tiles, might appear to have good prospects by virtue of their
immeasurable superiority as regards durability, weatherproofing and appearance
over the shingle or sheeting types of roof now employed in the West Indies
generally. A properly designed and laid tile roof can be considered proof
against all weather of less than hurricane force, while its life is not less than
that of the house itself, in some cases many hundreds of years.
For local consumption, however, tiles have two serious disadvantages :-
(a) Cost; estimated to be in the region of 7d. per sq. ft. of roof for pantiles
or Marseilles tiles and 1/- for plain tiles, compared with the present
price of 5d. for shingle, and 9d. for asbestos sheeting.
(b) The very much greater weight of timber and solidity of construction,
combined with higher pitch of roof, required to carry tiles, compared
with present types of roofing. E.g. an area of roof requiring 50 ft. run
of battens if covered with sheeting, would require 130 ft. when covered
with pantiles and 300 ft. for plain tiles.
These two factors, combined with the present high cost of timber, would
appear to prohibit the use of roof tiles in Barbados for all but the most expensive
type of house, and perhaps certain Government Buildings, while export trade
is again affected by high cost of freight and heavy breakage losses.
Item (d), floor tiles, is more promising, there being a fairly heavy and con-
sistent demand for alternatives to the present flooring materials of timber, con-
crete tiles or cement. Experiments at Lancaster have shown that a good quality
red floor tile, 6" x 6" x 7/8", should be capable of production at approximately
3d. to 4d. each, i.e. about 1/- per sq. ft. of floor, with other sizes of tile in pro-
Samples produced to date are hard, of a uniform size, shape and colour
throughout, will not break up or powder as cement does under continual wear,
are non-skid and proof against all weather conditions and pests, etc.
They would offer an attractive medium for the flooring of verandahs, bal-
conies, kitchens, bathrooms, and ground floor rooms generally.
From information acquired to date it appears that a fair local demand
could be anticipated, while on account of their higher value in proportion to
bulk, and also less susceptibility to damage in transit, compared with the other
materials already considered, there would be a possibility of export in limited
quantities to other islands in the West Indies.
Item (e), flower-pots and similar articles would command a comparatively
small sale locally, it being estimated that the probable average annual consump-
tion in Barbados alone would not exceed 25,000 x 6" pots, with a small propor-
tion of other sizes. The possibilities of export are good, however, the value of
such articles being considerable in proportion to shipping space required, and
enquiries for considerable quantities having already been received from both
Trinidad and British Guiana. Additionally, if a market could be developed in
such areas, resulting in a good reputation for the pots, it is possible that other
islands in the West Indies would also take limited quantities from time to time.
It is known that previously such enquiries, resulting in a trial order from
Trinidad, ultimately came to nothing on account of the very poor quality of the
pots; made at Chalky Mount and Turners Hall, of indifferent shape, size and
consistency, and improperly fired even to the extent, in some cases, of breaking-
up at the slightest ill-treatment in transit or subsequent use.
6" pots recently made at Lancaster however, and estimated to sell at 4d.
each, ex works, were comparable in size, shape and colour, porosity and strength
to any at present produced in the United Kingdom, where the average price at
time of writing is 4%d. each, delivered two tons or over within 200 miles. It has
been calculated that the cost of Barbados 6" pots, C.I.F. Port-of-Spain at pres-
ent schooner rates, would be in the region of 5d. each.
In short, it appears that provided vested interests in certain other colonies
do not operate to bar the consumption of flower-pots, and provided reasonable
packing and freightage arrangements can be obtained, the possibilities of flower-
pot production, (including orchid pots and similar articles), are good.
Field drain-pipes, which were also stated in Part I to be capable of manu-
facture, appear to have no application in Barbados, on account of the excellent
drainage already provided by the limestone rock, while possibilities for glazed
sewer pipes are also negligible, owing to lack of suitable raw material and of a *
large enough market.
Item (f), domestic pottery, has very good prospects indeed, provided the
difficulty of skilled labour, previously mentioned, can be overcome.
From samples so far obtained, there seems no reason whatever why pottery
of this type, i.e. coloured and glazed vases, jugs, bowls, ash-trays, etc., etc. (not
white china or table ware), should not be produced, comparable in price and
quality to similar articles at present made in United Kingdom.
A brief examination of the large stores in the West Indies generally reveals
an almost total lack of good class pottery, and while the consumption of such
articles would not be very high after initial saturation of the area, it would
nevertheless represent a considerable sum annually.
In addition, it is known that at least up to the end of 1947, considerable
demands from Australia, South Africa and South America for precisely similar
types of article could not be met in the United Kingdom, and it is believed the
position in regard to this has not yet improved to any extent.
I am firmly of the opinion that, properly handled, pottery production has
potentially by far the greatest export possibilities of the articles so far consid-
It is regretted that comparatively little information is yet available regard-
ing the last item, insulating bricks.
Experiments with these, using radiolarial earth from the Cleland area, St,
Andrew, had just commenced when it became necessary to close down, as pre-
It does appear, however, that a small output of such bricks might be prac-
ticable, and that these would find a sale among the sugar factories and other
industrial plants of the area. It is necessary to note, however, that they would
inevitably be fragile, and therefore that export possibilities would be limited.
All the above remarks concerning markets are based on the best evidence
*available at the time of writing, e.g. sundry personal contacts in Barbados, Trini-
dad, British Guiana and St. Lucia, Colonial Development and Welfare informa-
tion, and various files and reports, etc.
This evidence is necessarily somewhat in the nature of conjecture, for
merchants and Government Departments etc. will naturally not place specific
contracts before any production plant is in operation, although they may ex-
press approval in principal of the proposed product.
It is also regretted that limited funds do not permit the making of wider
personal contacts in the area generally.
It is therefore most desirable that any more detailed information available
regarding such markets should be carefully considered in relation to the recom-
mendations of this Report.
(2) Employment of Labour
It is a known fact that the original conception of this scheme was brought
about largely by the desire to provide employment in Barbados, and it would
accordingly be supposed that hand methods of manufacture, employing as many
persons as possible, should be made use of in the production of the goods.
It is necessary to point out, however, that such methods, while implying no
disadvantage in some of the processes, would impose a severe handicap in others,
e.g. clay preparation and tile manufacture.
The setting-up of an un-economical plant in this respect could only result
in a high price being demanded for the product, entailing probable disaster on
the final collapse of the present "sellers' market," or alternatively in an annual
debit balance, implying a further drain on the exasperated taxpayer in the case
of Government capital, or the closing down of the project if privately owned.
An attempt has therefore been made to reconcile these facts as far as pos-
sible, by recommending the use of hand methods wherever these would entail
no serious loss, and mechanical methods in other cases.
A reference to Appendix B, shows that the estimated probable labour force
directly employed in the early stages would be approximately 42, with an annual
wage bill of 4,450.
If considerable success was achieved, and suitable markets opened up, this
* figure might rise to 100 or more over 3-5 years, while in addition a certain
amount of indirect employment in transportation and shipping, etc. would be
Even this comparatively small total of employment, however, would be one
of the highest for single secondary industries in Barbados.
(3) Factory Considerations
When the Government Factory at Lancaster was lent for experimental
purposes, the Director of Agriculture gave due warning that it might be again
required for its normal purpose at any time, although at that date, (January
1948), it had been idle for some two years.
In spite of this warning, it was hoped to use the buildings and
part of the machinery for at any rate "pilot production" on a commercial scale,
(which was in fact proceeding with improvised equipment up to 15th October,.
1948,) and even with luck to develop this ultimately into a proper production
unit on the spot, by gradual provision of plant and the training of personnel as
In my opinion, this method would have been by far the least risky, involv-
ing a capital outlay of probably not more than 5,000, and would have permitted
the development of markets, etc. as the output increased. A large proportion
of old-established firms in the industry originated in similar circumstances.
The possibilities of permanent use of this factory however now appear to
have vanished, with the re-commencement of flour-milling there in October 1948;
and in the absence of another such suitable site and facilities it appears necessary
to set up an entirely new plant for ceramic purposes only, if the scheme is to
In the meantime, there is no reason why the "pilot" production should not
continue at Lancaster, if and when the buildings are again temporarily available.
In the setting-up of a new plant, the following considerations apply :-
For the manufacture of red-ware and of building materials it is cus-
tomary for the factory to be placed in close proximity to the clay bed, pro-
vided other factors are suitable. In Barbados, however, the available clay
is in the St. Andrew district, where the provision of a gas-pipe is estimated
to cost up to 6,000, where a special water supply would be necessary, where
skilled labour and supervision are scarce, and whence the products would
have to be conveyed over bad and hilly roads for consumption or export.
Since the amount of clay and sand required are not more than 3-4
tons daily for the output envisaged, it is considered preferable to convey
the rather greater weight of these materials to a point where other suitable
facilities exist, rather than to attempt to create these facilities on the site
of the clay.
It appears that the area in the immediate vicinity of the present Gov-
ernment factory would be as suitable as any, having gas, water and electric
power available from that factory, and a plentiful supply of labour, while
in the event of Government ownership it would be an advantage to have
such industrial plants grouped in one area under general supervision, rather
than scattered piecemeal over the island.
Apart from such considerations, any similar locality would be suitable,
provided it offered equal facilities, particularly as regards gas and cheap
(b) Brief Details
It is estimated that, to provide a reasonably economical plant and a
good rate of interest on capital, a minimum annual output of some 300,000
floor tiles, 230,000 flower-pots, miscellaneous items to the value of 1,000,
and pottery to the value of 3,000, would have to be attained. (See calcu-
lations in Appendices C and D hereto.)
A factory to produce this output would require approximately 4,000
sq. ft. of enclosed floor space for pottery production, 8,000 sq. ft., semi-
enclosed, for flower-pots and tiles, etc., with a further 6,000 sq. ft. for kilns,
storage, offices, etc.
In addition, it is desirable that space be left available for expansion at
a later date if required.
It is considered that a small de-airing brick machine, with a minimum
output (as bricks) of 1,000 per hour, and consisting of crushing rolls, mixer,
high-speed rolls, de-airing chamber and extruding pugmill, would be capable
of producing all the tiles, blocks, etc. and also the clay clots for use by the
flower-pot and pottery throwers. This machine would be working well inside
its capacity at the output suggested.
The addition of anti-scum material and sand and grog, as required,
and the reduction of any limestone nodules in the body, would require some
ingenuity and experiment in the early stages. It is not, however, justifiable *
to instal expensive slip-house machinery and methods of purification for
the pottery output envisaged, while these would not be considered in any
case for the other products.
A single machine-operated screw-type press would suffice for floor tiles
or roof tiles, while in the Barbados climate air-drying of all the articles
should normally be sufficient; a portable fan, drawing waste heat from the
ovens, might possibly be necessary occasionally in the wet season. 0
Power-driven wheels of local manufacture, could be used for flower-
pots and pottery, the latter requiring the application of an engobe in most
cases when partly dry followed by both biscuit and glost firings. The latter
could be in the open, owing to the purity of the gas, using low-solubility
lead glazes. A proportion of terra-cotta ware, glazed inside only with
gelena, could be produced with one firing only.
Two 12 ft. diameter round downdraught ovens, with a schedule of 3-4
ovens fired per fortnight, would comfortably deal with the commencing
output, further ovens being added later as required, up to the capacity of
the tile-making machinery. 48-72 hours firing would normally suffice,
allowing a 4-5 day period of cooling, drawing and setting in the case of
weekly firings of each kiln.
A large proportion of the oven furniture required could be made on
the spot after the initial stages.
Store-rooms and packing sheds under cover would be necessary for the
pottery, and also desirable if possible for the other products.
It is not considered necessary to discuss further the detailed planning,
erection and operation of a proposed plant at this stage.
It does not fall within my province to determine the most desirable method
of providing the necessary capital, viz. 20,000. The following remarks are,
however, offered for consideration.
There are at least four methods of setting-up the project:-
(a) To invite a reputable firm from the United Kingdom to set up and
operate the plant as a subsidiary.
(b) To ask the Colonial Development Corporation to sponsor the scheme.
(c) To issue a local Government loan, convertible, if desired at a later
date, to direct holdings in a Company.
(d) To invite offers from local capital.
Method (a) would immediately solve the technical and management prob-
lems, apart from those of marketing and would probably result in the greatest
degree of efficiency in the plant.
The net benefit to the island, however, would be the direct and indirect
employment of labour; in addition, the number of firms engaged in this par-
ticular type of Ceramics (both pottery and building materials) is small, with
limited available capital, and it is unlikely that one of them would engage in
such a previously untried field without further extensive investigation, or the
production of favourable balance sheets for some three years' operation of an
A further point is that no policy has yet been formulated in Barbados as to
the conditions under which such firms would be allowed to import and operate
such a plant.
Method (b) appears to have possibilities in view of the Colonial Develop-
meiit Corporation's known interest in such proposals.
Method (c) or (d) would confer the greatest overall benefits on the island,
if successful, but might subject the scheme to undesirable influences of private
or party politics or vested interests under certain conditions.
There are also sundry elaborations and combinations of the above methods,
which it is not thought necessary to discuss at the moment.
PART III W
Summary and Recommendations
(1) It is considered that there is no possibility of improving the present Chalky
Mount cottage industry in situ, by reason of the total lack of suitable
working conditions, lack of plant and fuel supply, remoteness of the area,
and, above all, the type and outlook of the people themselves.
(2) The establishment of a new type of production, viz. building materials, in
that area is also impracticable, largely for the above reasons.
(3) NWhile there is no reason whatever why this cottage industry should not
continue to produce its present type of ware, a market being provided by
tourists and the poorer classes locally, the production of a vastly improved
type of pottery, and of floor tiles, etc., can only be carried out on a factory
basis, removed from the Chalky Mount Area, and employing proper techni-
cal principles and supervision.
(4) Raw materials, fuel and labour exist for the production of building materi-
als, flower-pots and red-ware pottery, but markets appear to exist for the
two last-named and floor tiles only, assuming export of 60-80% of the
output to the Caribbean area or further, while a local market could be
found for small quantities only of roof tiles and hollow blocks..
There is no likelihood of manufacturing white china or tableware, white *
wall tiles, sanitary ware or high-grade firebricks.
(5) It is estimated that, to provide economic rates of production, and hence
favourable prices, a market must be found annually for the following
minimum output :-
(a) 300,000 floor tiles, 6" x 6" x 7s" at 3d., or their equivalent.
(b) 230,000 flower-pots, 6" at 4d., or their equivalent.
(c) Sundry bricks, roof tiles hollow blocks, etc. to the value of 1,000.
(d) Assorted domestic pottery to the value of 3,000.
(6) A factory designed to produce the above minimum quantities, using
entirely local labour, a small proportion only of imported materials, Bar-
bados natural gas for firing, and electric power from the present Govern-
ment plant at Lancaster, or from elsewhere at Id. per unit, is a practical
(7) Such a factory would require the provision of 20,000 capital, on which W
interest would be payable at 4% p.a., and would have an annual turn-
over of approximately 11,500, of which some 4,500 would be directly
spent on labour.
(8) Success is unlikely to be achieved without expert and tactful handling of
the local labour, efficient and energetic supervision, and the keen develop- *
ment of export markets for the majority of the products, the latter point
being the most important of all, as foreseen at present.
It Is Therefore Recommended That:
(a) If possible, further information regarding markets for the above output
(b) If such markets still appear favourable, consideration should be given as
soon as possible to the desirability and method of providing the capital.
(c) That a Committee or Board of Directors be appointed to administer such
capital and to determine forthwith the location of the plant, allotment
of contracts for the building thereof, the question of management as dis-
cussed in Part I (4) of this Report, and other relevant matters.
(d) That experimental work should continue at Lancaster for the time being,
if and when that factory can again be made temporarily available, and
while the residue of the present funds suffice.
J. R. BRANNAM.
16th December, 1948.
SUMMARY OF BARBADOS CLAYS, LOCATED UP TO OCTOBER, 1948
Windy Corner (N.E. of
Type and Characteristics
Highly plastic, greasy, dense, red-burning;
overburden 2-10 ft.; fairly pure seam;
outcrops in parts towards lower portion of
Brownish-grey shale; no overburden; seams
of fine sand, small boulder deposits and
small quantities of other impurities. Red-
Hard grey shale; no overburden; seams of fine
sand and ironstone nodules. Otherwise
Soft brownish-grey shale; no overburden;
seams of fine sand; red-burning.
Pinkish-white; found in small pockets and
seams among sandstones, rocks, and other
materials; specks of ironstone, limestone
and other impurities, burns white or cream;
Reddish-brown surface clay; small pockets
and seams as above; fairly pure if hand-
picked; plastic and open; red-burning.
Red surface deposit; 6-24" overburden; shal-
low depth; much limestone and other im-
Shallow red surface deposit; contaminated
with soil and limestone.
Very pure; greenish-grey; under thick bed of
limestone. Very low plasticity; cream-
burning; very high in lime.
Dark red-brown surface deposit; contamina-
ted with roots, grit, etc., very fine-grained;
fairly plastic; red-burning.
The largest visible de-
posit in the island.
Low-grade pottery and flower-pots, or as ad-
mixture with a more open clay, to give
Building bricks, floor tiles, roof tiles, hollow
blocks, etc., etc.
Occurs under pasture or cane land; easy of
access in upper part of seam; poor fired
colour; greasy and treacherous in working.
Inaccessible from present roads. Requires
grinding before use. Suitable for mechani-
cal digging with care. Largely waste land.
All waste land.
Roofing tiles, floor tiles, field drain-pipes, Accessible; occurs under rough pasture only;
flower-pots, domestic pottery. requires no preliminary grinding. Recom-
Primitive decoration or lining of terra-cotta
ware, or as an ingredient of honey glazes.
Cottage industry as at present;
tic pottery and flower-pots.
No use determined at present.
Possible use as colouring agent for tiles
Fairly accessible; pasture land. Otherwise as
Has some characteristics of a kaolin or prim-
ary clay. Gives strong yellow colour when
used under glazes or as a constituent there-
of. Of no great importance.
Occurs in close vicinity of "white" clay above,
but difference in physical properties not ac-
counted for. Quite a good clay, but
quantities too small to be of value.
Of no importance.
Of no importance.
Excessive depth of limestone overburden de-
ters exploitation. Fires to a very hard
cream body but very difficult to manage in
Burns very clear dark red; forms hard ce-
ment-like and brittle body on drying.
Cannot be fired without splitting if used un-
- --- ----r--~ 7_
__ ~ __
ESTIMATE OF PERSONNEL AND ANNUAL WAGE BILL
(a) Clay preparation and tile making.
4 Off-bearers (boys)
1 Tile presser .. .
2 Assistants (boys)
(b) Flower-pots and pottery making.
4 Pot throwers
2 Pottery throwers
3 Ballmakers (boys) ..
2 Ware-tenders and handlers
1 Pot tender
2 kiln foremen/firemen
(d) Biscuit sorting and glazing.
1 Assistant (boy)
2 Sorters and Packers
2 Boys .
1 Lorry driver ..
2 Office staff
1 Works foreman
@ 40/- per week.
@ 50/- ,, ,,
@ 30/- ,, ,,
@ 20/- ,, ,,
@ 40/- ,, ,,
@ 20/- ,, ,,
@ 50/- per
@ 60/- ,,
@ 20/- ,,
@ 40/- ,,
@ 36/- ,,
. .. @ 70/- per we(
.. @ 36/- ,, ,
.. @ 50/- per wei
.. @ 20/- ,, ,
@ 40/- per
@ 20/- ,,
@ 60/- ,,
@ 80/- ,,
208 0 0
130 0 0
156 0 0
208 0 0
104 0 0
104 0 0
ek. 364 0 0
, 561 12 0
ek. 130 0 0
52 0 0
ek. 208 0 0
104 0 0
156 0 0
416 0 0
260 0 0
4,451 4 0
NOTE: Wage rates are approximate, and are based on the supposition of a 6 day,
48 hour week, with exception of firemen, from whom 60-72 hours would be
ESTIMATED CAPITAL EXPENDITURE
(a) Land and buildings:-
2 acres land; open sheds for clay preparation and tile making:
enclosed sheds for pottery and flower-pots; offices, etc. .. 4,000
Plastic tile-making machine, rolls, mixer, cutting table, dies,
etc., with electric drive .. .. .. .. 3,000
6 Potters' wheels, electric drive .. .. .. .. 600
Grog Mill .. .. .. .. .. .. 500
Glaze Mill and sundries .. .. .. .. 250
Tile Press .. .. .. .. .. .. 500
2 Round downdraught ovens 12' diameter, with burners and
stack .. .. ..
3-5 ton lorry .. .. ..
Wiring, shafting, etc. .. .
Scaffolding, pallet boards, benches, etc .
(f) Contingencies:- ..
NOTE : Above assumes the continuance of present F.O.B. prices in United Kingdom,
and duty free entry into the Colony of all machinery and materials, etc.
* ESTIMA OF ANNUAL OPERATING COSTS 9TCOME, AND PROFIT LOSS ACCOUNT
By Sale of :-
300,000 Floor tiles, 6" x 6" @ 3d. or equivalent
230,000 Flower pots, 6" @ 4d. or equivalent ..
30,000 Pieces Assorted Pottery @ 2/- each average
Miscellaneous hollow blocks, tiles, bricks, etc.
3,750 0 0
3,833 6 0
3,000 0 0
1,000 0 0
11,583 6 0
11,583 6 0
Annual bill as per Appendix B ..
12,500,000 cubic ft. Natural Gas @ 2/- per 1,000 cu. ft.
Raw Materials :-
1,000 tons Clay and Sand @ 1/- per ton ..
Various imported materials
24,000 units electricity @ Id. per unit .. ..
Repairs and renewals ..
Insurance, @ 1% overall on 20,000 .. .
Lorry :-petrol, oil, maintenance, etc.
Balance to Profit and Loss Account
4,451 4 0
1,250 0 0
50 0 0
500 0 0
100 0 0
250 0 0
200 0 0
200 0 0
7,001 4 0
4,582 2 0
11,583 6 0
Interest on 20,000 @ 4% p.a.
On buildings @ 5% p.a.
On machinery, etc. @ 7.5% p.a.
On transport @ 20% p.a.
Direction and Management
Balance .. .. ..
800 0 0
. .. .. 200
1,214 1,214 0 0
1,500 0 0
3,514 0 0
1,068 2 0
4,582 2 0
Manufacturing profits, as per statement above
NOTE ; Assuming the likelihood of Government ownership, no provision is made for
taxation in computing Profit and Loss Account.
O -I w
4,582 2 0
'4,582 2 0
4,582 2 0
4,582 2 0