Sunday, 3 September 2017

Cakemore Brickworks, Rowley Regis

© Crown Copyright. Reproduced by permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1881.

The Cakemore brickworks is shown on the 1881 OS map above as being situated just off Cakemore Road near to Rowley Regis Railway Station & is first recorded as being owned by the Cakemore Causeway Green & Lower Holt Brickworks & Colliery Co. Ltd. in 1879. What a mouthful !! The company name was then changed to the Cakemore Brickworks & Collieries Ltd in March 1882. The 1869 map only shows Cakemore Colliery at this date. The 1881 map also shows that the brickworks had an incline tramway going to nearby Causeway Green to access the Birmingham Canal.  The Cakemore stamped paver shown below may have been made by this first or second company.

Photographed at the Black Country Living Museum.

I then found that Cakemore Brickworks & Colliery Co. Ltd. due to Court Orders was wound up on the16th August 1882 & was finally dissolved on the 19th March 1894. 
The brickworks is next recorded as being owned by the New Cakemore Blue Brickworks Ltd. in 1883. This 1883 company then changed it's name to the Cakemore Blue Brick Co. Ltd. in December 1885. The 1888 OS map shows that the works now had a second tramway connecting it to the GWR's Stourbridge Extension line. As I do not have a copy of this 1888 map, I have used the 1902 map below to show this new tramway. It also appears from this 1902 map that the works was still using the tramway to the canal at this date.
We next find that the Cakemore Blue Brick Co. Ltd. went into voluntary liquidation in March 1889.  

© Crown Copyright. Reproduced by permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1902.

Photo by Colin Wooldridge courtesy of the John Cooksey Collection.

This Cakemore Blue Brick Co. example with B,A,y.R. stamped in it had me guessing what the letters stood for quite a while. I did think on the lines that the R stood for railway & I was not that far wrong. It was only when Patricio Larrambebere contacted me from Argentina with the information that B.A.y.R. represents Buenos Aires and Rosario Railway, a railway company in Argentina of British origin that the answer was revealed. So how many of these bricks were made is unknown & did these bricks get delivered to Argentina or was the one owned by John Cooksey in Stourbridge only a sample. We may never know the answers to these questions as John has sadly passed away.

This example was photographed at a historic house in Kent & these diamond shaped pavers had been used all round the stable block & outbuildings. I found this one along with a few more stacked in a small courtyard next to the main house.

On the 28th October 1887 the South Staffordshire Blue Brick Co. was registered at Companies House with intention to take over the Cakemore Blue Brick Co. With CBB Co. going into liquidation in March 1889, SSBB took over their properties in January 1890. 

Found at Cawarden Rec. Yard.

I expect bricks found stamped with the monogram of C, reversed B  & then B were first made by the Cakemore Blue Brick Co., with SSBB Co. then continuing to produce bricks with the same monogram. Pavers stamped with just the CBB monogram are the ones which are most regularly found. 

Front & reverse of a Cakemore Blue Brick Co. - CBB Trade Mark. 

This Cakemore Blue Brick Co. / CBB Trade Mark example came from Chris Thornburn's collection & I have since passed it on to the Black Country Living Museum for their collection. The reverse of this paver is also stamped with the CBB monogram & may have been specially produced after 1887 (but before they went into Liquidation in 1889) to promote the company's name & to show that the company had registered the CBB monogram Trade Mark. The reason why I give the date of after 1887 is that CBB's advert (below) which appeared in Kelly's 1887 London edition only request buyers to purchase their "Cakemore Brand" of South Staffordshire blue bricks & not their Trade Marked CBB bricks.

This advert appeared in Kelly's 1887 London edition & was reproduced from this BBS article page 14. 

I have also found some pavers at Cawarden stamped Cakemore CBB Trade Mark (example below) which may have been made by the Cakemore Blue Brick Co. after 1887 or by SSBB after 1892 as per Kelly's 1892 Kelly's advert, (also shown below). This advert exclaims that SSBB are the producers of their celebrated "Cakemore" brand of Staffordshire blue bricks & that they had registered the CBB Trade Mark to their company. This Trade Mark was then going to be stamped in every one of the company's bricks. So either of these two company's could have made this brick below after they had both succeeded in the registering the "CBB monogram" Trade Mark to their respective companies.

Photographed at Cawarden Rec. Yard.

Below is a full paged SSBB Co. advert which appeared in the 1892 London edition of Kelly's Trade Directory. 

Graces Guide records that SSBB was reconstructed in 1896/7 & their share capital largely written down. I then found that one of their share certificates was for sale on e-Bay.

Reproduced with the permission of Mike Veissid.

© Crown Copyright. Reproduced by permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1913.

The 1913 map above shows that this works had expanded in size again & from a web article one family recollects that they could remember the colliery & brickworks both being in production up to 1925. I then found that SSBB Co. had been struck off the Companies Register in 1928, so the Cakemore brickworks may have closed around 1925/6. The last trade directory entry for SSBB appears in Kelly's 1921 edition. 

As you can see from the 1938 map below only the clay pits remained & part remains of the tramway to the canal. Also to note is that two roads had been built north of the works. Today part of the brickworks site is under the M5, with the rest being planted with trees & grass areas.

© Crown Copyright. Reproduced by permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1938.

These are the trade directory entries found for the Cakemore brickworks :-
Kelly's 1884 & 88 editions - New Cakemore Brickworks Lim. Samuel Foulkes, General Manager, Cakemore, Birmingham.

I have to note that the 1888 entry appears not to have been updated by Kelly's with the Company's new name of the Cakemore Blue Brick Co. One can only assume that Kelly's went to print with the 1884 listing.

Kelly's 1892 edition - South Staffordshire Blue Brick Co. Lim. (blue, brindled & red), Alfred L. North, Manager, Cakemore Blue, Brickworks, Birmingham.

Kelly's 1896 & 1900 - Same first bit, but now with the address of Cakemore, Blackheath, Dudley.

Kelly's 1904 to 1921 editions - all read the same as the 1900 edition, but now with Alfred L. North as Managing Director.

In conclusion from the word "go" this brickworks appears to have been badly managed with the times that the companies owning this brickworks went into liquidation or had to be reconstructed, it was not until Alfred L. North became Managing Director in 1904 that things settled down. This may have been when the Cakemore brickworks produced their best wares, as I have come across their CBB monogramed bricks in several parts of the country.

Many Thanks to :-
Colin Wooldridge
Cawarden Rec. Yard
Chris Thornburn
Graces Guide
Mike Viessid
NLS/Ordnance Survey


  1. Thank you for this in depth history of Cakemore Bricks. I have long been interested in them, as I love blue bricks, probably from childhood memories of visiting Great Aunts and Uncles, where blue pavers and curved wall toppers were a common sight. My interest increased, 15 years ago, when I started researching my Harper family, whom I found farmed Lower and Upper Holt Farms, Lower Holt being right next door to the brickworks. I hope to find one of these bricks of my own one day.

  2. Thanks for your info Linda. If you are interested in owning one of these bricks, there is a good chance you will find one at Cawarden Reclamation Yard in Rugeley.
    I have seen one or two CBB monogramed bricks during may last two visits to Cawarden. They are in the blue paver section.
    I am hoping to go this week to Cawarden & if I find one, I will leave it at Reception for you & then leave you another message.
    Just thought about a brick reclamation yard nearer to you at Oldhill. You may be lucky in finding one there.

    1. Hello Linda George,
      I have found you a Cakemore brick at Cawarden today, Thursday 28th March.
      Can you please contact me via my e-mail address which is on the Links & Contact tab page at the top of this post, so I can send you more details on collecting it etc from Cawarden. Just click the tab & it opens a new page.
      If you are unable to go Cawarden please let me know.
      Thanks, Martyn


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