Retired police sergeant shows off eccentric brick collection

Mark Cranston, 56, has collected over 3,500 bricks since 2010. Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith / SWNS
Mark Cranston, 56, has collected over 3,500 bricks since 2010. Picture: Katielee Arrowsmith / SWNS
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The 56-year-old man started his collection of 3,500 bricks in 2010 and showcases it in his garden shed.

When looking for a doorstop for his garden shed almost ten years ago, retired police sergeant Mark Cranston found a white painted brick from a former colliery in Ayrshire, which inspired him to explore its historical significance.

Since then, Mark has amassed a huge amount of bricks from around Scotland, England, Wales and abroad, which he stores in his garden shed in Jedburgh, in the Scottish Borders.

Included in the collection is a fire brick that was salvaged from the SS Politician, the inspiration for the famous novel Whisky Galore, which was carrying 264,000 bottles of malt whisky but ran aground in the Outer Hebrides in 1941.

Mark also has a brick from an old gold mine in Washington state, USA, and one that was retrieved from the 90s demolition of the execution block at Scotland's largest prison, Glasgow's HMP Barlinnie.

He said: "There was a prison warden who'd retired from Barlinnie and had rescued a few bricks stamped 'Wilson & Son Barlinnie'."

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The oldest brick is a drainage tile from 1833.

To find bricks, Mark seeks out old buildings that are being demolished and scours old brick work sites, rivers and shorelines, however a quarter of his collection was racked up through donations.

He 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.

In 2014, Mark set up a website named Scottish Brick History, a database of thousands of bricks found by Mark and other collectors and enthusiasts.

Mark said: "Over time I've met other folk out and about, online and through email."

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As his collection grew, he extended his shed and added several shelves to showcase the bricks, however Mark aims to eventually create a museum to allow people to visit the collection.

The father of two said: "Everything else like pottery, glass and iron go on display, but not the humble brick."

Collecting bricks has become a family affair, as Mark's wife Karen and his two children have also become interested in brick collecting.

Mark added: "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."