Two Half Moulds for ’Derry’ Clay Pipe
By Noel Campbell
The nineteenth century clay pipe business of the McGuigan family of Broughderg, Co. Tyrone
The moulds are two halves of a complete cast iron mould for a ‘Derry’ pipe. Both halves measure 28cm long and contain a mould cavity for a clay pipe measuring 21.5cm long. The word ‘DERRY’ is embossed on the inner side of one half of the mould. There are three lugs on each half with engaging pins and holes to secure the complete mould together during manufacture. The maker’s stamp has a wooden handle and brass stamp, measuring 9cm in total. The stamp is embossed with ‘D. McGUIGAN BROUGHDERG’.
The history of the McGuigan family clay pipe business
The donor, Daniel McGuigan (b.1870s) made these particular pipes at his house in Broughderg, Omagh, Co. Tyrone. His father, Daniel senior had worked in a clay pipe factory in Scotland. On his return to Ireland he established the business for an initial short period in Coalisland and later built a kiln and workshop beside the family home in Broughderg.
How were the clay pipes made?
The manufacturing clay came from England in loaves and was bought by the McGuigans in Derry. The loaves were dried in front of a fire and when dry were broken up and the clay put into a tub of water for 24 hours. Lumps of the soaked clay were then placed on a stone flag and beaten with a round iron bar for about an hour. The clay was then shaped by hand into rough ‘forms’ for the pipe moulds. These forms were then taken to the moulder who gave them their final shape.
The pipes received their final dressing from a woman who cleaned off any adhering fragments of clay and stamped them with the brass maker’s stamp. They were placed on boards and allowed to dry thoroughly before being fired in the kiln. The kiln was fired with turf and if started at 8am the baking of the pipes would be completed by about 1am the following day.
The pipe moulds and maker’s stamp are part of the National Museum’s Folklife collection, which is stored in Turlough Park and are not currently on public display.
You can find more information on clay pipes in the following:
Ayto, Eric G., Clay Tobacco Pipes, Aylesbury: Shire Publications Ltd., 1979.