Mrs Catherine Blair set up the Mak’Merry pottery at Hoprig Mains Farm in 1919. She was a leading figure in the women’s suffrage movement in Scotland, and a key figure in the foundation of Women’s Rural Institutes, believing in the importance of encouraging women in rural areas to undertake creative and productive work. Her husband farmed at Hoprig Mains for 42 years, until he retired in 1932. The pottery bought in bowls, mugs and vases, and hand-decorated them in a very distinctive and colourful style; the best-known painters were Catherine Blair herself and Betty Wight. The Macmerry Scottish Women’s Rural Institute (SWRI) held painting classes for local women at Macmerry school. The pottery became very popular, especially after some pieces were bought by royalty at the Royal Highland Show. When the Blairs retired and moved to North Berwick, the pottery continued in production at their new home until the death of Mrs Blair in 1946. The pottery remained very popular and much sought after by collectors.
THIS ACCOUNT OF GLADSMUIR PARISH WAS COMPILED & EDITED BY KATHY FAIRWEATHER. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, RESEARCH AND ESSAYS WERE PROVIDED BY JEAN SHIRLAW AND THE FOLLOWING:
- David Sydeserff Economy – Agriculture
- David Welsh General information
- Margaret Welsh General information
- J. Wilson Leisure – Penston Band
And the recollections of Arnott Craigs (agriculture – horses at Greendykes); Fiona Dobson (homes – Penston Gardens); Wendy Goldstraw, nee Bruce (belief); Pat Moncrieff (education – Macmerry Primary School 1952-69).
Additional assistance was given by: Dorothy Baillie, Jean Beveridge, Rev Graham Black, Alistair W. Bremner, Tom Cameron, Margaret Fortune, Tim Hall, William Hogg, Mrs Jenkinson (Snr), Arthur Lowe, A. Lindsay, Betty Livingstone, Calum Nisbet, Duncan Orr, Dr David Simpson, Edward Sommerville, Ian Thomson, John Wallace, Derek Wood and the Church of Scotland General Trustees.