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.
Joseph Hamblet is first recorded as brickmaker in the 1841 census, living with his wife & two children at Darby End, Netherton. By 1851 Joseph had acquired & was operating the Piercy Brickworks in partnership with a Mr. Parkes, which was on land which had formed part of John Piercy's "Oak House" estate at Ireland Green in West Bromwich. By 1860, Joseph was to be sole proprietor & manager of this successful works & in the 1870's & 80's he was producing red & blue bricks, floor & roof tiles. With the expansion of his thriving business now covering many acres, Joseph & his family were to go to live at "Oak House". By the 1890's Joseph was concentrating on producing high quality blue bricks & output was between 400 & 500 thousand bricks per year. Joseph died in May 1894 & was succeeded by his grandson Joseph Davis Hamblet, better known as Joseph Hamblet junior.
In 1898 the company became a limited company & was known as the Hamblet Blue Brick Co. Ltd. operating till 1915 when the works closed due to a shortage of men & fuel as a result of the Great War.
The site of the Ireland Green Works was sold in 1919, but I have found that the Hamblet Blue Brick Co, West Bromwich continues to be listed in Kelly's Trade Directories until the last one that I have available in 1940 & in the 1928 to 1940 editions the entry is H.B.B. Co. 6, Grange Road, West Bromwich. So this begs the question of who was still running the company & at what location ?
In a letter by Michael Hammett on a genealogy site to Ray Hamblett, Michael writes that in the 1961 edition of the Directory of Clay Products, there is an entry for the Hamblet Blue Brick Co. (associated with Barnett & Beddows) at the Atlas Brickworks, Aldridge & then from the Trade Marks section, that both companies are using the Atlas trade mark on their blue bricks. Barnett & Beddows also had their own works on Stubbers Green Road & this was across the road to the Atlas Works, along with several other brick companies in the same area of Aldridge, extracting the high quality Etruria Marl to produce their bricks.
Then from a 1985 article by M. Hammond in the British Brick Association magazine, Mr Hammond writes that he has found on Barnett & Beddows current letterhead, the address of Barnett & Beddows Ltd, Atlas Brickworks, Aldridge, Walsall incorporating Hamblet Blue Brick Co. & the Manners Brick Co. (Eastwood, Nottingham).
So my only conclusion is that Barnett & Beddows had purchased the Hamblet company name, but at what date ? It could have been in 1919 when the Ireland Green works site was sold & they had moved the Hamblet production to the Atlas Works or it may have been around 1985 as recorded on the letterhead & the Hamblet Blue Brick Company had been run by somebody else at the Atlas Works until then ? Finding the answers to these questions will be unresolved, unless new evidence comes to light.
Barnett & Beddows closed in 1988 with the site of their brickworks then being taken over by Wienerberger who built their ultra modern eco Sandown Works, which today is still producing high quality engineering bricks from the Etruria Marl.
The Atlas Brickworks is now occupied by Ibstock on Stubbers Green Road & is just across the road from Wienerberger. I have also found that Ibstock now uses the Atlas trade mark on their bricks.
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.