Sunday 1 January 2023

BCM Bricks & Tiles

This post covers bricks, roof & floor tiles found so far stamped with the initials BCM & a name. For many years it was thought BCM on bricks stood for British Clay Manufacturers or British Ceramic Manufacturers, but no written proof has ever emerged proving either of these associations existed. The only clue we had of BCM on bricks & tiles was this 1931 Clayworkers list shown below.


With finding an article on the web about pottery being stamped with these BCM initials, with BCM standing for British Commercial Monomarks, a company established in 1925 to provide all parts of the UK with a London postal address & delivery service of it's mail, with companies using either their full name or a trade name. So in February 2022 I set myself the task of finding the answer to these bricks also stamped with the letters BCM & a manufacturers name.

I contacted Steve Birks who had wrote the BCM pottery article on the website asking him if knew if BCM also applied to bricks, but he replied saying he had only found evidence connecting BCM to pottery.

So with reading this British Commercial Monomarks Ltd. was still in operation today, now operating as British Monomarks, I contacted the company & Company Director, Jim Gifford replied saying he had recently been looking though old ledgers & he thought he had seen a list of brick companies who had also signed up to use BCM's postal system, but was unable to find this list again, but would get back to me if he did.

So while waiting for a reply, I decided to process some 30 or more brick company adverts which appeared in several editions of the Architects Compendium sent to me by Mike Chapman who had received them from Paul & Cynthia. This folder had sat on my desktop for several weeks & unknown to me there was a 1937 advert for the Coronet Brick Co. revealing this company was using BCM's postal service. So I had the proof connecting BCM to bricks. It was then the simple task of informing all concerned in "Brick World", Magic !!!!!  

Please note all bricks & tiles featured in the post were manufactured after 1925.

Mark Cranston who I had asked at the start of my BCM search if he could search the Newspaper Archives for clues on BCM & bricks, then wrote this comprehensive article on the origins of the BCM company updating it with the Coronet advert I found which solved this conundrum. Mark then added BCM bricks found in Scotland to his post. Further searches on the web revealed companies which manufactured pewter wares had also signed up to use BCM's postal service, stamping their goods with BCM & a name. The most famous name being "Tudric", trade name of Liberty's of London.

So I start with this 1937 Coronet advert with the important information of "Registered British Commercial Monomarks", then two bricks manufactured by this company. A BCM Wains has still to be found.

The Architects Compendium 1937.

Photo by Frank Lawson.

Photo by Mike Chapman.

The Coronet Brick & Terra Cotta Co. had been established in 1895 in Measham, Leics. & in 1927 after several management changes this works was being operated by the newly formed Coronet Brick Co. Ltd. In 1930 Coronet took over two brickworks in Heather, Leics. owned by Henry J. Ford, the Heather works & the Wains works which Ford had purchased in 1922. As the 1937 advert shows Coronet were still operating each of it's works under their original names. 

With informing Jim Gifford of my Coronet advert find he then sent me this page from an undated pamphlet which he had just found recording the Junction Brick Co. of Buckley, North Wales using their Jacobean trade name & several Scottish firebrick manufacturers had signed up to use BCM's monomark postal system. Thus providing us with more evidence of the use of BCM stamped on bricks.

Photo by Dave McNicholas courtesy of Old Bricks website.

This brickworks in Buckley, North Wales was established by John Jones & Henry Lamb in 1911. In 1919 Henry Phelp Jones acquired the works, naming his company the Buckley Junction Metallic Brick Co. Ltd. Jacobean & City were two trade mark names used by the company. The Buckley Junction Brick Co. was declared bankrupt & was voluntarily wound up on the 16th of April 1956. As far as we know this was the only Welsh brick company to use the BCM postal system. 

A brickworks called Bradwell Wood Tileries, Stoke on Trent previously owned by Joseph Timmis & Sons was operated by Bentley Tileries Limited from the 1st of January 1927. In the 1960's the works consisted of around ten beehive kilns. In 1963/4 the works produced roof tiles, red floor tiles, garden tiles & air bricks. The works closed in 1966 & a London Gazette Notice records that on the 18th of February 1966 at a special Members meeting, the Company was voluntarily wound up & this notice was signed by Chairman, T. Bentley. By 1968 the site had been cleared of all buildings. Greg Julian found this mint example in a friends garden & is a smooth faced paver.

Photo by Greg Julian.

Etruscan was a trade name used by George Woolliscroft & he first appears in a 1865 trade directory as a beer seller and brick & tile manufacturer living at the Eagle and Child Inn in Chesterton, Stoke. By 1868 he was also listed as a builder and manufacturer of blue bricks, chimney tops, drain pipes, roofing ridge & pressed floor tiles in Chesterton. In 1878 he expanded his business interests by becoming a grocer and draper as well. Joined by his son in 1879 the business then became George Woolliscroft and Son. Kelly's 1880 edition records the firm was also operating Canal Tileries in Etruria. In 1904 the business is listed as George Woolliscroft & Son Limited, operating three works, Chesterton; Canal Tileries in Etruria & Melville Street, Hanley. The Melville Street premises continued in use producing tiles until quite recently and was demolished in 2009. With some info by David Kitching. 

Photo by Ian Suddaby.

Ian Suddaby found this BCM Acme roof tile in Macmerry, East Lothian, so it had traveled a fair distance with it being made by G.H. Downing & Co. (1933) Ltd. of Audley Road, Chesterton who operated a brickworks & several tileries in Stoke. An article which appeared in the Scotsman newspaper dated 15th of March 1934 records G.H. Downing & Co. had a stand at the Scottish Building Exhibition in Waverley Market, Edinburgh to display their various types of Acme (trade name) tiles. I am assuming it was after this Exhibition that Downing's received an order to supply tiles to the Edinburgh area. Blue bricks made by Downing's are stamped with their trade name of "Iron" & if made, bricks stamped BCM Iron are still to turn up.    

Photo by Ian Suddaby.

Image © Illustrated London News Group.

Found in December 2022 this advert comes from the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News dated Saturday 2nd of May 1931 & although it does not say that Acme was a tile company, I am sure I would have put two & two together with the 1931 BCM Clayworkers list that I have & got the answer to BCM on bricks & tiles much earlier.

Photo by Greg Julian, courtesy of Old Bricks website.

BCM Dimples & BCM TV were trade names used by the Trent Vale Brick & Tile Co., Trent Vale Tileries, Stoke who are listed in Kelly's 1921 to 1940 editions. A photo on Exploring the Potteries shows the works in 1964, but a Notice in the London Gazette dated 12th of March 1956 reveals at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Members of the Trent Vale Brick & Tile Co. passed a special resolution that the Company would be voluntarily wound up & Percy John Snow of 17, Albion Street, Stoke was to be appointed Liquidator. This Notice was signed by Chairman, R.W. Beswick. Now the address of 17, Albion Street were this meeting took place & the address of P.J. Snow was the address of the Potteries Brick Co. Ltd, an Association which administrated & sold bricks on behalf of several brick companies in Stoke. So it appears from this web photo several buildings were still standing eight years after the works closed & this photo may have been taken just before they were demolished. 

Image © Reach PLC. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD

Both BCM TV & BCM Dimples names are recorded in this advert which appeared in the 20th of October 1930 edition of the Staffordshire Sentinel newspaper. 

This Magnesia BCM GX brick has a good tale to tell. First it was found in December 2022 by Ian Suddaby while searching through the cinders & furnace debris at Dalzell Steelworks in Motherwell & although it's a standard imperial sized brick, it weighs 6kg. Then Mark Cranston found two newspaper articles revealing who made it & where it was made. A 10th of March 1930 Sheffield Daily Telegraph advert advertises General Refractories Ltd. of Sheffield were selling many types of refractory products of which Magnesia bricks was one of them & the company was using the British Commercial Monomark postal address of GX = Genefrax which was used by General Refractories of Genefrax House, Wicker Arches, Sheffield up to 1933/4, after which it was changed to Genefax House. Now on to where these bricks were made & the answer was found in an article in the Sheffield Daily Independent newspaper dated 6th of September 1930. The article reveals that the Worksop Brick Co. which was associated with General Refractories Ltd of Sheffield had sent a whole tram of these specially manufactured magnesia bricks from the Worksop works to Tunis, where they were going to be used in the lining of Zinc Reduction Furnaces. Please note GR actual took over the Worksop Brick Co. in 1929, but may have continued to use the original name until 1932 when we do know the Sandy Lane Works was operating under the GR name. I have also found a May 1931 newspaper article which states GR exported more of these magnesia bricks to South Africa to be used in the erection of a Copper Smelting Plant, so these magnesia bricks may well have been made at Worksop. However I do have to note that GR had a brickworks in Sheffield making many types of refractory products as well being in association with another company in Ambergate, Derbys which operated under the name of Midland Refractories Ltd. 

Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated 10 March, 1930

The General Refractories advert found by Mark Cranston which enlightens us that GR was using BCM GX as a Trade Mark & a Monomark. Again wouldn't it have been nice to have had this advert at the beginning of my quest in solving BCM on bricks. 

Photo by Steven Tait.

Found by Steven Tait in the River Tees in July 2023, this Coroma brick adds another BCM GX variation to the list of bricks made by General Refactories. It is unknown if this brick was made at Worksop, but with GR having two more works in Sheffield it is highly likely theses Coroma bricks were made in this area. The 1930 GR advert above lists the Coroma range of bricks, it also records the Trade Mark & monomark - BCM GX.

I have found two separate entries for the Hartshill Brick & Tile Co. which was just off Shelton New Road, Hartshill. The first listing in Kelly’s 1880 to 1916 editions is Hartshill B & T. Co. with J & T. Birks, proprietors, Hartshill, Stoke & the second is Hartshill Brick & Tile Co., Stoke Old Road, Stoke in Kelly’s 1932 to 1940 editions. This works is still shown on a map dated 1947. 

Photo by David Kitching.

John Caddick & Son Ltd., Spoutfield Tileries, Brick Kiln Lane, Hartshill, Stoke is listed in Kelly's Staffordshire Directories from 1888 to 1940. Originally operating as Wheatley and Caddick at the Spoutfield Tileries, the partnership was dissolved on 25th March 1886 when Samuel William Wheatley retired. The business was then carried on by John Caddick on his own account. It was incorporated as private limited company 29th July 1909. John Caddick-Adams was the managing director of John Caddick & Son until its closure in the 1980's. Horseshoe was its trade mark. Info by Frank Lawson.

Photo by David Kitching.

Daniel Platt (later & Sons) owned two works, Harpfield Tileries in Newcastle, Stoke & from 1896 Brownhills Tileries in Tunstall, Stoke producing facing & paving bricks, quarries, tiles, ridges & finials. The London Gazette reveals Platt had left the partnership of James Malpass & Daniel Platt at Madeley Heath, Stafford in 1871 with Platt then going into partnership with George Hollins at Harpfield Tileries. Hollins then left this partnership in January 1874 leaving Platt as sole owner of Harpfield & Kelly's 1875 edition is the first listing of Daniel Platt, Harpfield Tileries, Newcastle, Stoke. We next find in Kelly's 1888 to 1896 editions the entry is Harpfield Tileries, Stoke Road, Newcastle with Daniel Platt as Managing Director. The other partners in Harpfield Tileries were George Hollins, William Boulton & Thomas Edge. Boulton & Edge left the partnership in December 1892 & Boulton left the partnership in June 1894 leaving Platt as sole owner of Harpfield Tileries. With the need to expand Platt in 1896 opened Brownhills Tileries, Tunstall, Newcastle on a site which had produced bricks & tiles since 1820. We next find the listing in Kelly's 1900 edition is now Daniel Platt & Sons & it was this company which produced these BCM bricks & tiles around 1931. The 1931 Clayworkers Directory also reveals Platt was using the letters OP as a Trade Mark on his pressed tiles & these letters can be seen on one of his tiles shown above. Also Jim Stevens has found a blue brick with just OP stamped in it, so it appears Platt was also using OP on his bricks. Daniel Platt died in August 1941 & the company continued as Platts Ltd. A photo on Staffordshire Fast Track shows Platt's Brownhill Tileries in 1964. A Staffordshire Sentinel newspaper article states that in early 1988 the Bardon Group of Leicester, quarries & building products, purchased Platts Ltd for 7 million pounds & relaunched Platts Ltd in December 1988. By the re-launch half a million pounds of production improvements had been pumped into Platt's Brownhills Tileries factory which was employing 144 people. I have found a reference the Brownhills Tileries works closed in 1996. Below is a Daniel Platt & Sons advert, circa 1931 which shows the company was using the Monomark of BCM / DPS. The original source of this advert is unknown.

J, F, & E Rowley Ltd. are listed in Kelly's 1924 & 28 editions at High Carr Tileries & Bradwell Hall Tileries, both on Talke Road, Chesterton, Stoke producing red & blue, roofing & flooring tiles. John, Fred & Ernest Rowley were the sons of brickmaker William Rowley who ran nearby Metallic Tileries in Chesterton with his sons John, William & Tom. So John had interests in both businesses. The next reference to J.F. & E. Rowley is the BCM Rowley entry in the 1931 Clayworkers list. John died aged 33 in 1934. Two Notices in the London Gazette reveal Director, F.L. Rowley of Rowley Tiles Ltd, Bradwell Hall Tileries held a Creditors Meeting on the 4th of March 1952, after which the Company was placed into the hands of Percy John Snow to be Liquidated. The Bradwell Hall works was then purchased by the Howle Brothers who ran it until 1965 & it appears the High Carr works continued to be run until 1956 under the Rowley family.

 Image © Reach PLC. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD

The Metallic Tile Co. Chesterton, Stoke was established around 1892 by William Rowley & William was joined at the works by his three of his brickmaking sons, John (Works Manager), William & Tom. By 1904 William & Tom were operating the works as the Rowley Brothers. Tom died in 1929 aged 62 & the works was next managed by William & Tom's sons, John & Bill until the works closed in 1977. In 1941 G.H. Downing Co. Ltd. had taken over the running of Metallic Tileries Co., still running it under that name. 

Although plenty of bricks stamped with the company's trade name of Metal have been found, no BCM Metal roofing tiles have turned up yet as per the Staffordshire Sentinel advert dated 20th of October 1930 above or 1931 Clayworkers list at the beginning of this post. So one to look out for.

This brick & tile works at Haying, Silverdale was owned by William Brough between 1860 until the Silverdale Tileries Co. took it over in 1896. The Silverdale Tileries Co. is first listed in Kelly's 1896 edition at Silverdale, Newcastle, Stoke with George Walker as Manager. Kelly's 1900 to 1916 editions now records Ralph Cornes was Works Manager. In 1919 brother-in-laws Thomas Edward Walley & Frederick John Alsop after selling their Knutton Tileries to Shelton Iron, Steel & Coal Co. Ltd. purchased Silverdale Tileries which had stood empty during the War. Continuing to operate this works as the Silverdale Tileries Company by Walley & Alsop this works is listed in Kelly's 1924 to 1940 editions. In 1921 Walley & Alsop purchased Rosemary Hill Tileries from the Trustees of John Nash Peake, a works which had stood idle since the start of the Great War. However there was another change in 1926 when a Notice in the London Gazette records that the Silverdale Tileries Co., operating two works & owned by Thomas Edward Walley & Frederick John Alsop were dissolving their partnership on the 30th of November 1926. Under this agreement Thomas Walley took over the sole running of the Rosemary Hill Tileries works, operating it as T.E. Walley & Frederick John Alsop took over the sole running of the Silverdale Tileries works, continuing to operate it as the Silverdale Tileries Co. Alsop who lived at Parkfield House continued to run his works until his retirement in 1932.  Roof tiles; ridges; facing & paver bricks; & channel bricks were made at this time by the company. In 1933 the works was being operated by the United Tiles Manufacturing Company of Chesterton & from the trade directory entries & newspaper adverts the works was still being run under the Silverdale Tileries Co. name. Claud Hodgkinson was works manager & by 1950 the works had 11 beehive kilns. In 1956 the Baggeridge Brick Co. took over the works running it until it's closure in 1960.

Photo by Ian Suddaby.

Image © Reach PLC. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD

Located at the very bottom of this advert which appeared in the Staffordshire Sentiel dated 6th October 1928 is - British Monomark; BCM/Silverdale. Again wouldn't it have been nice for this advert to have turned up much earlier.

Photo by Ian Suddaby.

Photo by Ian Suddaby.

Photo by Ian Suddaby.

Triton was a trade name owned & used by Wheatly & Co., Springfield Tileries, Newcastle, Stoke. This works had been established by the Wheatley family in 1819. Kelly's 1872 to 1884 editions record the Springfield works was being operated as Wheatly & Cooper. A Notice in the London Gazette records William Cooper was retiring from the business & it would then be carried on by Samuel William Wheatly & Francis Singleton Sheldon, operating as Wheatly & Co. dated 2nd of January 1888. Kelly's 1896 to 1940 editions then list this new company, Wheatly & Co. at Springfield Tileries. Another London Gazette Notice records Wheatly & Co. partners, Wheatly, Sheldon & Tomlinson were dissolving their partnership by mutual consent on the 30th of September 1911 & the company would then be run by Samuel Wheatley & John Arthur Tomlinson as Wheatley & Co. dated 2nd of October 1911. This works was taken over by Daniel Platt Ltd. in 1978. More information about the company can be read at this Link & a 1930 pamphlet produced by the company showing the BCM Triton trade name can be see at this Link.  Both by Steve Birks on thepotteries,org website.

In 1921 Walley & Alsop owners of the Silverdale Tileries Co. purchased the brick and tile works formerly run by John Nash Peake in Cemetery Road, Silverdale which was known as Rosemary Hill Tileries. With the partnership of Walley & Alsop being dissolved by mutual consent on the 30th of November 1926 Thomas Edward Walley then took sole control of Rosemary Hill Tileries operating it under his own name & Alsop took over the sole running of Silverdale Tileries. Kelly's 1936 edition records the Rosemary Hill works was now operating as T.E. Walley Ltd. with Thomas's sons E.L. Walley & F.D. Walley assisting him in the running of the company. Thomas died in 1952 with his company continuing under the ownership of his sons. G.H. Downing & Co. Ltd. then bought the business in 1975, but this only lasted until 1981 when the works was sold to Steetley and then closed, with production being transferred to Streetley's Knutton works. Thanks to David Kitching some of this info.

Taking over the brickworks previously owned by Thomas Plowman, the Woolpit Brick Co. Ltd. operated between 1883 & 1937. Kelly's 1888 edition records the Woolpit Brick Co. Ltd. with Robert Scattergood as manager at Woolpit, Suffolk. There were four brickyards in Woolpit & the Woolpit Brick Co. operated the works called Kiln Farm Brick Kilns. In Kelly's 1925 edition & possibly when Woolpit Brick Co. had signed up to use the BCM postal system E.R. Atkinson was the manager of the works. From 1937 to when it closed in 1948 this works was operated by Suffolk Brickworks (Woolpit) Ltd. 

More Companies will be added as & when new BCM brick & tile names turn up. 

With Mark Cranston recording Scottish BCM bricks found so far, I have decided rather than duplicate these Scottish brick images in this post I would just add a link to his site containing these bricks for you to see.

As a Footnote I have come to the conclusion that the use of BCM on bricks & tiles may have fizzled out by 1935 because companies which had included their BCM name in their newspaper adverts were no longer doing so. 

Many Thanks to all those mentioned in this Post in helping me bring this information to the Web.

Wednesday 16 March 2022

Edward Handley, Willesden & Acton Brickworks & Woodside Brickworks, Croydon

In this post I first write about the brickworks that Lincoln brickmaker Edward Handley & his two brickmaking sons had an interest in, in Acton, Middlesex & then I write about son Edward Handley junior b.1866 moving to Croydon, Surrey to own a brickworks there. Edward Handley senior, born in 1836 in Ruddington, Notts. established & owned the Albion Brickworks in Lincoln from 1890 until his death in 1906, with his eldest son William b.1862 then taking over the Albion works until 1912, when it was sold to the Lincoln Brick Co. You can read more about the Albion Works, Lincoln on my East Midlands blog. I have also found Edward Handley senior owned shares in two other Lincoln brick companies, these being the Lincoln Brick Co. established around 1882 with works at Waddington & the Bracebridge Brick Co., established around 1876 with works in Bracebridge, Lincoln. This latter company was amalgamated into the Lincoln Brick Co. in 1889. So this post covers the Handley Family interests outside Lincoln starting in 1898.

With being in contact with the present Edward Handley b.1934, son of the second Edward b.1866 & grandson to the first Edward b.1836, Edward has supplied me with information & photos about his family's rich brickmaking past. However with his father dying when he was only 13, Edward's knowledge & recollections mainly centres on the Woodside works after he had been appointed to the Board as a Director in 1957. The family's business ultimately totalled three brickworks & was sold in November 1963 to Hall & Co. Many Thanks Edward for all your help.

Willesden & Acton Brickworks.

© Crown Copyright. Reproduced with permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1912.

This Willesden & Acton brickworks is recorded in two web articles as being established by Kellett & Sons, (Builders) in 1894 & operating until 1910, but there is a little more to add to this info because on the 11th of July 1898 when the Willesden & Acton Brick Co. was formed & registered with a capital of £50,000 in £10 shares, Edward Handley of the Albion Brickworks, Lincoln became a share holder. This share information comes from a newspaper notice which appeared in the Sheffield Independent dated Monday 18th of July 1898. Also listed as owning shares were A. Kellett, Edwards's sons, William & Edward junior & three more gentlemen who were Solicitors.

The 1901 census records Edward Handley junior as living with his second wife Mary Jane & daughter Mena aged 9 from his first marriage in Acton & a Brick Manufacturer/Employer, so it appears he was running the Acton Works for his father who is recorded in a 1902 newspaper article & at the time of his death in 1906 as the Managing Director of the Willesden & Acton Brick Co. In November 1905 the Middlesex & Surrey Express reported that Edward Handley, MD of the W. & A. Brick Company offered the council four acres of land next to his brickworks on which to build a Refuse Destructor & Edward would then purchase the power generated by the burning of the Council's refuse. If you look at the 1912 map above you will see that the Council took up Edward's offer & built their Destructor. 

This is were things get a bit hazy on what happened next. With Edward Handley senior passing away on the 26th Feb.1906 he made provisions in his Will for his two sons William & Edward junior to be able to purchase his shares in his Lincoln Albion Works & the Willesden & Acton Brick Co., but this appears not to have happened in the case of Edward junior who may have continued to run the Willesden & Acton brickworks until it's closure, but there is also the option that he left this works in 1906. I am assuming without Edward senior's financial backing the Willesden & Acton Brick Co. reverted back to the Kellett family hence the articles recording Kellett as the owners of the works when it closed in 1910. I next found in the London Gazette that the Willesden & Acton Brick Co. held a creditors meeting in November 1911, with the company being liquidated in 1913. Neither of these entries name the actual owners of this company. Up to yet, bricks stamped Willesden & Acton have still to turn up.

Willesden & Acton Works, courtesy of Edward Handley.

Woodside Brickworks, Croydon

Edward tells me that his father purchased this brickworks in 1910 or 1912 from the Executors of the late Horris Parks, however I have since found two newspaper articles which records Edward had established the Woodside Brick Co. in 1909. There is also the option that Edward may have been working for Horris Parks after leaving Acton sometime between 1906 & 1909, but Edward cannot verify this about his father with him being so young when his father died & not being told very much about his family's early brickmaking past. However it does appear Edward was in the right place at the right time when Parks tragically died to then take over the works which Edward was told was at a "knocked down price". So I first write about Horris Parks senior & his son Horris junior & how events lead to Edward junior acquiring this works which in 1909 now covered 46 acres. 

© Crown Copyright. Reproduced with permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1894.

The Surrey Advertiser dated 22nd July 1876 advertises a "Valuable Freehold Brickfield For Sale" amounting to nearly 10 acres at Woodside, Croydon & having an existing lease holder bringing in rent & royalties to the value of £150 per year, with this leaseholder being named as Horris Parks. Whether Horris Parks bought the Brickfield at this date is unknown. 

The 1851 census records Horris Parks senior b.1817 as a brickmaker & living on Whitehorse Road, Croydon, so from this information I am assuming Horris was leasing this Woodside Green works in 1851 with it being only a short distance from his home. The 1861 census records Horris Parks snr, a brickmaker, was now employing 6 men & 2 boys at his works & had moved to 3, Azaff Place, Croydon. Kelly's 1867 edition is the first trade directory entry recording Horris snr with his home address of Portland Road, South Norwood. The 1871 census records Horris snr was now employing 10 men & living at the same address. We also find at this same address was his son Horris Parks junior b.1845, single, who was also a brickmaker & employing 7 men & 2 boys. Now from a later trade directory entry I am taking it that Horris jnr was running a works situated on Mitchell Road, Croydon in 1871. Horris snr is again listed in Kelly's 1878 edition with the home address of Pembury Villa, Portland Road, South Norwood. Newspaper articles record Horris senior's works as the Parks Brickworks, Dickinson Place, Woodside & I have coloured Horris' works green on the 1894 OS map above. The 1881 census now records Horris snr as a retired brick manufacturer, so we know from at least 1881 that Horris jnr was also running the Dickinson Place works at Woodside Green. The 1881 census records Horris jnr was now employing 21 men & 10 boys. Horris jnr aged 42 married Constance Postam aged 32 on the 1st of June 1887 & they went on to have two boys & 1 girl, first living on Selhurst Road, Croydon & then moving to Tennison Road, Croydon. I have not been able to establish in which year Horris senior died. As mentioned earlier Kelly's 1891 edition records Horris Parks junior as operating a brickworks on Mitcham Road, Croydon & there is a newspaper article naming Horris jnr as still owning this works in 1908. 

Edward has a Parks brick which he found in the garden of the house where he lived with his mother after his father's death & this brick is shown next. 

Courtesy of Edward Handley. 

A 1900 description of the Dickinson Place works describes it had a 14 chamber Hoffman-type kiln with the capacity to produce 100,000 bricks per week & was erected by Messrs J. Osman & Co., a Wolff & Co. patented brick dryer & Fawcett wire-cut brickmaking machine. 

The 3rd of April 1909 was the day when events went tragically wrong for Horris Parks junior because he committed suicide by hanging himself with a new halter from a beam in one of his workshops at the Woodside works. The Coroners verdict of suicide whilst being of unsound mind was recorded. Apparently one of his foremen was caught "milking the books" & it is believed the shame of this act lead him to commit suicide. In his Will Horris left effects of £16,726 which in 1909 was a very large amount of money.  

© Crown Copyright. Reproduced with permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1910.

So with Edward Handley purchasing this Woodside Green works in 1909 we find in newspaper articles & Kelly's Surrey 1911 & 1913 editions that Edward had named his company the Woodside Brick Company. This 1910 map shows a new entrance to the works had been created via Hermitage Lane. Example of one of Edward's bricks is shown next.

Courtesy of Edward Handley.

Edward Handley married three times with his first wife Elizabeth (nee Seaton) producing a daughter in 1892 called Mena. His second marriage to Mary Jane did not produce any children. Then shortly after the death of Mary Jane, Edward was driving his car through the portcullis at the entrance of his works when it came crashing down just missing the car by inches. This near death experience left Edward badly shaken & needing medical attention. It was while he was in Hospital that he met his third wife, Sister nurse Elizabeth May Casserley, who liked to be called Mollie. Mollie nursed Edward back to full health & love blossomed with the pair marrying at South Norwood Methodist Church in 1930. In December 1934 son Edward was born, Mollie was 32 & Edward was now 68. 

After surviving the 1930's Depression the Woodside brickworks prospered under Edward's guidance & Edward recalls that to his knowledge his father was the only local manufacturer to make facing bricks from the London blue clay which was found in the deepest part of the claypit. Above this blue clay was a different type of clay which was used to make yellow London stock bricks.

In September of 1939 under the orders of the Ministry of War & within a week Edward had to cease all brick production, extinguish all fires, empty all kilns of their bricks & make ready the works to accommodate soldiers & staff belonging to a Canadian army battalion. These troops were later involved in the Normandy Landings. In September 1944 a V1 (doodlebug) fell on the brickworks narrowly missing two chimneys & ending up in the water filled claypit where it exploded on impact, luckily no one was killed or seriously injured. Apparently the Germans got their location wrong as this bomb should have been aimed at Handley Page's aircraft works in Cricklewood, North London. Lord Haw-Haw announced on the radio that the bomb had successfully destroyed this aircraft works & this bemused it's owners & workers when they turned up at the works to assess the damage. However Handley's brickworks did suffer damage from the many bombing raids & one kiln was totally destroyed with another one being found to be beyond repair & had to be demolished. A total of 1,000 incendiary & H.E. bombs landed on the brickworks resulting in roofs being blown off, office windows smashed & machinery being destroyed. 

Edward Handley died on the 2nd of February 1946 & the rebuilding of the brickworks was placed into the hands of Trustees, Jack Milsted, Edward's widow, Mollie, daughter, Mena & three other Trustees who had been elected to administrate his estate after his death. Apparently in Edward's complicated Will, young Edward (13) was not named as his successor & was only named as a beneficiary, so Edward never got to fully own his father's business, however he did become a Director in 1957. 

So during the harsh winter of 1946/47, 250 workers set about re-building the brickworks & starting production again, which had now been re-named as the Woodside Brickworks (Croydon) Limited by it's Directors. Even with reduced capacity compared to pre-war levels the works managed to produce 500,000 bricks per week. The substantial amount of money needed to rebuild & restart the brickworks came from the Government's War Damage Commission. In turn this money originated from an agreement between US President Franklin D. Roosevelt & Winston Churchill using American money from the "Marshall Plan" to re-build Europe. Apparently the UK received the lions share of this money which amounted to 4.3 billion dollars & it took the UK Government 61 years to re-pay back this loan.

Photo by Edward Handley.

As you can see from Edward's photos the Croydon skies were dominated by the brickworks chimneys with one having Handleys Bricks emblazoned upon it made from Staffordshire white bricks. Although this photo only shows six chimneys the works had seven in total.

Photo by Edward Handley.

This brick is in a collection in Cambridge & was photographed by me.  

 This brick is in a collection in Birmingham & was photographed by me.  

The works consisted of three Staffordshire kilns & two Hoffmann kilns. Wire-cut bricks were made using Bennett & Sayer machinery & together with pressed bricks the works output amounted to seven & a half million bricks being produced in 1950. The claypit at this date was 80 feet deep. 

Photo by Edward Handley.

With profits now increasing Percy Davis became Joint Managing Director with Jack Milsted. Then in 1951 the Directors of Woodside took the opportunity to purchase the Newdigate Brickworks in Surrey for £50,000. This yard with a small workforce was only producing hand-made bricks from the Wealden clay, so with the 45 acre site having a huge reserve of clay to the depth of 200 feet, steps were taken to put in machines to increase production. A second brickworks owned by the Ashford Brick, Tile & Pottery Co. Ltd was purchased in 1961 for £80,000. Covering 20 acres this works had a 12 chamber continuous kiln producing 250,000 bricks per week. Both these purchases were made to help with the dwindling clay reserves at Woodside. 

In 1957 Edward, now aged 23 was elected to the board of Directors & was made responsible for the operations of the kilns together with Jim Cridge. After leaving school in 1952 Edward went on to study all aspects of clay & it's manufacture which included pottery, bricks, fire bricks & drain pipes at the College of Ceramics in Stoke on Trent. A further six months was spent at the Keymer Brick & Tile Co. in Burgess Hill, learning every job in the yard. Edward's final six months was spent at the Sneyd Brick Co. in Stoke.

1959 was a bit of a crunch year for Edward & one he was not looking forward to with his father making the provisions in his Will that when he reached the age of 25 that he would as the Testator's son, distribute the quarter share which was due to his half sister Mena now aged 67. Mena made the decision that she wanted either cash or for someone to purchase her shares, but Edward was not in the financial position to do either, so it was stalemate for several years with the other Trustees not being able to see how the matter could resolved.

As I wrote clay reserves were starting to deplete at Woodside & between 1960 & 1963 London blue clay was brought to the works everyday by lorries which had been extracted while digging the Walthamstow to Victoria underground line. However there was much debris in this clay which included drift wood & pieces of metal & £70,000 was spent on new machinery to rid the clay of this debris. Common bricks were then made from this London blue clay & some of these bricks made their way back to the stations on the Victoria Line, but they are hidden behind the stations white ceramic tiles. Another temporary solution to keep the brickworks operational was to take the waste material (pulverised fuel ash) from Croydon B coal-fired power station (site now Ikea) which had sufficient carbon in it to help fire the bricks. 

With the winter of 1963 being a particular bad one & with brick sales being at an all time low, many avenues were explored on how Mena could receive her money from the Trust. After many schemes were considered by the Trustees, the London & Yorkshire Trust were instructed to offer the three brickworks for sale & they were bought by Hall & Co. in November 1963. With this sale Edward received his cash share from the Trust & Mena received hers. The remaining beneficiaries of the Trust are Edward’s three children who inherit the remainder of the Edward Handley Estate (Edward b,1866) after Edward’s death. All staff kept their jobs & were transferred over to Hall & Co. with the exception of Edward, he was the only one to be made redundant. 

Hall & Co. were a long standing South East family building supplies firm who continued to operate Handley's three works until 1972 when Hall & Co. now a public limited company was purchased by Ready Mixed Concrete. Then in 1976 Ready Mixed Concrete took the decision to sell it's brickworks division & in this process the Woodside brickworks was closed down for good. Today housing, open land, a new primary school, a children's playground, the equipment of which was financed by the National & Croydon Playing Fields Association & the aptly named Brickworks Meadow Country Park occupies this former brickworks site.


Link to a 16 mm Black & White film of the works made by Brian Jones in 1974.

Link to Edward's Article in the South Norwood Review Winter 2011, page 11.

Information for this article also came from Edward's book.
Of Bricks & Men. ISBN: 9780906047279