While I was researching brick companies in the West Midlands, I found on a railway blog site for Broadway Station, many pictures of piles of bricks & bricks being laid in the rebuilding of the station & signal box by the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Steam Railway Society. Seeing that you could read the names on some of these old bricks, I duly contacted the Society asking if they could photograph any of their named bricks which they had. So many thanks to Bill Britton, chairman & to Jo Roesen for taking & sending me the photos in this post.
All photos by Jo Roesen.
I first start with this GWR brick - Great Western Railway. The Trust also uses the initials of GWR standing for the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway in it's logo & the Honeybourne Line which they are restoring was originally part of the Great Western Railway.
Finding information on the web where GWR made their bricks has been very sketchy, but from several sources I have established that the company had it's own brickworks located within it's rail works at Swindon & it was located on Kiln Lane. Also found that the brickworks used the local Kimmeridge clay which is found in abundance around Swindon, producing their distinct red coloured bricks. The brickworks is also recorded on an Ordnance Survey map dated 1900 & then there is a Britain From Above photograph dated 1946 showing the rail works complex with the brickworks on Kiln Lane marked in the distance on the photo, which can be seen at this link.
Winchcombe Brick & Tile Co. Jo tells me that this fancy shaped brick came from the original Broadway Station building & formed a ropework design around a window.
This brickworks & pottery at Greet near Winchcombe was first started by William Beckett & he is recorded as brickmaker aged 45 in the 1841 Census. William was then followed by his son Richard until 1913 & then by Richard's widowed mother until 1914, when the Winchcombe Brick & Tile Co. Ltd. purchased the works. The company was still in production in 1939 & is listed in Kelly's Trade Directory, with the closure of the works being not long after that.
The run down pottery had been sold in 1926 to Michael Cardew. a young potter who had been an apprentice to Bernard Leach. Joining the company in 1936 Ray Finch was then to go on to purchase the pottery from Cardew in 1946. The pottery is still their today operating as Winchcombe Pottery. As a footnote, Cardew went on to run the famous teapot pottery at Bovey Tracey, Devon.
The Redbank Brick Company is recorded in Kelly’s 1895 edition and was on Atherstone Road, Measham along with two other brickworks - Measham Terra Cotta & Coronet. The company may have taken its name from nearby Red Bank Farm. In 1955 the company produced bricks and pipes & 1983 saw the company expand to produce tiles, chimney pots and terracotta. Now owned by Hanson the original works closed in 2009 to be replaced by a ultra modern automated brickworks on adjoining land which can produce 100 million bricks per year with just 28 staff.
Link to 1933 ariel photo, with Redbank in the foreground & the Coronet works on other side of railway line.
The origins of the Whitemoor Brickworks in Kenilworth started in 1872 when a lease was taken out by Walter Lockhart to make bricks on land owned by the Hawkes family. Walter made the first bricks to carry the town's name. The works was briefly owned by the Leamington & Lillington Brickyard Co. before it was purchased in 1891 by Henry Hawkes. Henry operated it under his own name until 1930, after which it continued until it's closure in 1957 under
ownership which is unknown.
The Milton Hall Brick Co. on Star Lane, Great Wakering near Southend was formed in 1932 & was in production until 1984 when the works was taken over by the London Brick Co. LBC continued to produce bricks at this works until 2005.
Mobberley & Perry produced their fireclay bricks at The Hayes, Lye, Stourbridge, their red bricks at it's works on Stourbridge Road, Wollescote & blue bricks at Woodside, Holly Hall, Dudley, same as the one above.
M & P are first listed in Kelly's Trade Directories in 1881 at Stourbridge & Holly Hall. Although Samuel Mobberley is recorded as producing firebricks on his own, 1st at Coulbourn Brook, Stourbridge in Kelly's 1860 edition, then at Holmer Hill, in Kelly's 1888 edition. He had also been in partnership with James Bayley from 1859 to 1879 at the Thorn’s & Caledonia fire clay & brick works in Stourbridge.
Kelly's 1900 edition is the last listing for the blue brick works at Holly Hall & M & P was acquired by J.T. Price in 1956 & the Hayes fireclay works closed in the 1960's.
Link to 1931 aerial photograph of M & P's fireclay works at Lye.
Photo taken by Jo Roesen at GWR Broadway Station, Worcs.
John Hamblet is first listed as a brickmaker, aged 18 in the 1851 census living with his brother Joseph Hamblet aged 31 in Rounds Green, Oldbury. So I am assuming John was working at Joseph's brickworks at this date. In the 1861 census John is listed as a Railway Contractor & Publican in Ledbury, after which John was brickmaking again in Southall, Middx. John declares himself bankrupt from this Southall venture, as recorded in two London Gazette Notices 14th December 1866 & 18th October 1867. By the time of the second hearing John was living in West Bromwich & was soon to be running the Paddock Brickworks in Oldbury, coloured yellow on the 1886 OS map below. In these Notices John is also recorded as brickmaking in Ampthill, Bedford, but I do not have the dates when this was.
© Crown Copyright. Reproduced with permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1886.
Photographed in Sutton Coldfield by Terry Callaghan.
Kelly’s 1876 edition records the partnership of Crowther & Hamblet at the Paddock Brickworks, Oldbury & Charles William Crowther was John’s son-in-law. Charles had married John’s daughter, Annie in 1873. Terry Callaghan tells me that the bridge this C & H coping can be seen on, on the Sutton Park Line, Sutton Coldfield was built in 1879. This Crowther Hamblet partnership may have only lasted between 1873 & 1876 as we find Charles Crowther is listed as a baker in the 1881 census. John Hamblet then at a date unknown was next in partnership with Samuel Tittley at the Paddock Brickworks, but this partnership was dissolved on the 31st of August 1880 as recorded in the London Gazette. We then find in May 1883 John Hamblet an out of work brickmaker formerly at the Paddock Brickworks was declaring himself bankrupt. I next found that his former business partner Samuel Tittley in December 1883 who had also run the Phoenix Brickworks in Oldbury (coloured green on the 1886 OS map above) on his own was declaring himself bankrupt as well. This December Notice also records the conclusion of John Hamblet's liquidation.
However that was not the end of John Hamblet's brickmaking career as the 1891 census records John Hamblet aged 58, as a Brick Manufacturer/Employer in Oldbury. So I am assuming this was at the Paddock Brickworks again. The Paddock Brickworks is no longer shown on the 1900 OS map, so must have closed in the 1890’s.
A dedicated post about Joseph Hamblet & his family can be now read at this link.
These next two bricks were made by the Star Brick Co. who had several works in the Newport, Cwmbran & Swansea areas of South Wales, with it's head office & works at Ponthir, near Cwmbran. Kelly's Trade Directory for 1881 lists the Star Brick & Tile Co. on Llantarnam Road, Cwmbran & the 1937 edition lists Llantarnam Road, Cwmbran, Caerleon & Risca both near Newport. The company amalgamated with the National Brick Co. in Heather, Leicestershire at a date unknown forming the National Star Brick Co. This new company was then purchased by Butterley Brick / Hanson in 1971, with bricks still being made stamped National Star Ltd, Newport in 1978.
The Wilderness Brickworks at Gresford near Wrexham was established by Edward Stanley Lea in 1885 and soon afterwards he was joined in partnership by Russell and James Rea and Charles William Massey, all from Liverpool. In 1888 together with Stuart Clarke they formed Clark & Rea Ltd. and became well known for producing quality pinky red and buff bricks. In 1903 Stuart Clark became the sole proprietor of the company which was then operating 8 round kilns for red bricks and 7 square kilns for blues. It appears that the works was never profitable and the Clark family lost money for a number of years. It had closed by 1924 and was dismantled in 1926. Info by David Kitching.
I believe this No.3 brick to be also made by Clark of Wrexham as the colour, texture & the shape of the frog is the same as the Clark brick above.
This one is a bit of mystery, I expect without the other half of this brick, I will not be able to trace it's maker.
If you would like read more about the rebuilding of Broadway Station & visiting the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Steam Railway, which at the moment runs from Laverton to Cheltenham Race Course, please find the links below.
Once again a big Thank You to Jo Roesen & Bill Britton for helping bring these brick photos to the web.