Thursday 31 August 2023
Thursday 5 May 2022
In this post I cover brickmakers who operated in Measham.
The Measham Terra Cotta Co. is first listed in Kelly's 1895 edition at Measham (coloured green on the 1901 OS map above). Road access into this works was via Horses Lane & Peggs Close from the town centre (to the north), but there was also a lane running to the works from Atherstone Road (also coloured green). The next trade directory listing is Kelly's 1900 edition, but it is also the last. The London Gazette dated 12th of April 1904 reveals that on the 7th of April 1904 The Measham Terra Cotta Co. Ltd had been put into Voluntary Liquidation. It appears the liquidation of the company went through with next finding an article in the Burton Chronicle dated 22nd of March 1906 which reveals Auctioneers German & German had been instructed to put the Freehold Property & Works known as the Measham Terra Cotta Works up for sale. It also appears the works may not have been sold at this auction in 1906, however Mike Chapman has found that in 1919 the newly formed Redbank Manufacturing Co. who had bought the Red Bank Brick Co. were the owners of this property & works, so there is the option that the previous Red Bank Brick Company had purchased the Measham's Works in 1906 with the intentions to extract clay from this site, but that appears not to have happen with the 1920 map showing only the chimney was left standing & trees had been planted in the clay-pit, also four houses had been built next to the entrance of the works, which still stand there today.
© Crown Copyright. Reproduced with permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1901.
The Coronet Brick & Terra Cotta Works coloured yellow on the 1901 map above had been established by 1895 with Kelly's 1895 Derbyshire edition recording this works was operating under the name & by Blakesley, Cash & Stinson at Measham, Atherstone. These gentlemen being George Blockley Blakesley, Thomas Cash & Herbert Lee Stinson. George B. Blakesley b.1854 of Blackfordby House, Blackfordby had married Thomas Cash's sister Eliza Jane in April 1876 & Thomas Cash b.1843 had married George Blakesley's sister Elizabeth in 1875, so a good family tie up. Thomas Cash also had his own brick & sanitary pipe works in Woodville. If my research is correct Herbert Lee Stinson b.1864 was the son of Joseph Lee Stinson, brickmaker & farmer of Brierley Hill, Staffs.
This Blakesley, Cash & Stinson listing continues in Kelly's 1900 Leicestershire edition through to Kelly's 1922 edition. It's in Kelly's 1925 edition that it now records this works was operating under the name of the Coronet Brick & Terra Cotta Co. However I then found the 1901 edition of the Clayworkers Directory does record the Coronet Brick & Terra Cotta Co. at Measham with H.L. Stinson as Agent, so it appears this works was trading under two names from it's inception, it's owners & Coronet. I then found a 1927 London Gazette notice which now records the owners of the Coronet Brick & Terra Cotta Co. were Blakesley, Stinson & Ernest Edward Ratcliff & I am assuming Thomas Cash had died with him being in his late 70's. This London Gazette notice dated 29th of July 1927 records the partnership of Blakesley, Stinson & Radcliff operating as the Coronet Brick & Terra Cotta Co. had been dissolved by mutual consent on the 1st of May 1927. A bit of digging has revealed in 1898 widower George Blakesley aged 44 married Annie Edith Radcliff aged 20, daughter of John Ratcliff (farmer) of nearby Measham Lodge & Annie's brother was Ernest Ratcliff. George & Annie went to live with John Ratcliff at Measham Lodge after their marriage. The 1901 census records Ernest Edward Ratcliff aged 21 as a Clerk in a brickyard living with his father & the 1911 census records him as a Brickyard Manager & still at home. So it appears Ernest Ratcliffe worked his way up Coronet until he became a partner in the company sometime in the early 1920's replacing the deceased Thomas Cash. So again another George Blakesley family tie up.
We next find in Kelly's 1928 edition that the Coronet Brick Co. Ltd. was now operating this yellow works & I suspect some or all of the previous owners of this works had formed this new Limited Company. This is backed up in an article in the Dundee Courier dated Saturday 30th of April 1927 which reports that trading in the shares of the new Coronet Brick Co. Ltd would start the following Tuesday & this coincided with the previous Coronet Brick & Terra Cotta Co. being dissolved on the 1st of May.
A newspaper article dated September 1928 reveals Coronet held all the shares in the Hemel Hempstead Patent Brick Co. at Cupid Green, Hemel Hempstead & were declaring a dividend of 2% in the financial year ending 30th of June 1928. With checking Kelly's 1929, 33 & 37 editions it appears Coronet continued to run HHPB Co. under that name even though they owned all the shares. It is unknown how long Coronet continued to own this company for.
Around 1930 Coronet then purchased two brickworks in Heather from Henry J. Ford who had been operating as the Heather Brick, Terra Cotta & Wains Co. Ford had purchased Andrew Wain's works around 1922. The first reference to Coronet owning these two Heather works is a newspaper advert dated December 1931 when the company was advertising for a clerk to work at Heather. Coronet is listed in Kelly's 1932 edition with works in Measham & Heather. Below is a 1937 advert for Coronet recording their three works & this advert also shows the company had registered their trade names with BCM, British Commercial Monomarks. This was a company formed in 1925 to provide manufacturers with a London address & mail forwarding services. After this advert are two bricks made with this BCM stamp mark, Coronet & Heather. A brick stamped BCM Wains has still to turn up. More can be read about BCM at this link by Mark Cranston.
At the time of his death in February 1952, Mr. N. Donaldson Mackenzie is recorded as being the Managing Director of the Coronet Brick Co.
The Leicester Evening Mail dated 16th of March 1953 reports the Coronet Brick Co. had acquired W.T. Wright & Co's brickworks at Sileby, then another article a year later reports the Sileby works had been restructured & a new modern kiln had been built at Measham.
In November 1954 a newspaper article reports that Coronet's chairman Mr. P. Ashmead- Bartlett announced in his annual report that the Heather works was to be sold, no reason for it's sale is given. This was the Station Road works known as the Wains Works. The article goes on to say production at it's Measham works & at it's Sileby works, still operating as W.T. Wright & Co. (Sileby) was expanding. I am assuming the Pisca Lane works at Heather owned by Coronet did not re-open after WW2 with it being closed & under the care of the Ministry of War for the duration of the war to store armaments there. The Wains Works was also closed & under the care of the Ministry of War during WW2.
My next newspaper find in August 1960 records Mr C.W. Payne was Chairman of the Coronet Brick Co. I then found a newspaper advert dated October 1960 recording Coronet at Measham were now only producing salt glazed pipes with the company changing it's name to Coronet Sanitary Pipes Ltd. & were requiring a JCB Loadall driver. I am therefore assuming Coronet had disposed or closed it's Heather brickworks in 1954. However Coronet were still running their Sileby brickworks in the early 1960's with a newspaper advert dated October 1963 advertising Wright's Ltd. (Sileby) were requiring two brick drawers & one loader at their Albion Works.
Info from an article by Mike Chapman, Mike records the Coronet Sanitary Pipes Ltd. works at Measham was bought by it's neighbour the Redbank Manufacturing Co. in the late 1970's. Redbank then with the removal of the disused Nuneaton railway line which had run between the two works, joined the two sites together & then proceeded to build four oil-fired low-thermal mass kilns on the Coronet site. I write about Redbank next.
Red Bank Brick Co.
The Burton Chronicle dated 19th of November 1891 reports on the dinner at which the Red Bank Brick Co. was launched, it's owners being named as Joseph Massey, Managing Director, William Henry Ellis, J.P. & Arthur Brewin Partridge, directors, both of Ellis Partridge & Co. Also present at the dinner were Wilmot Massey, Joseph's father & W. H. Ellis' son Owen Ellis. It appears the company of Ellis Partridge & Co. played a major part in the running of the Red Bank Brick Co. in it's early years with Ellis Partridge & Co. recorded in adverts as operating this Measham works in it's own name, which is very confusing. It wasn't until Mark Cranston found me this Burton Chronicle article that I was able to understand why there were trade directory entries for the Red Bank Brick Co. & Ellis Partridge & Co. using the "Redbank" trade name at the same time, that it all fell into place. I write about Ellis Partridge & show these Ellis Partridge adverts after this Red Bank entry. Redbank went on to change hands in 1919 & it may have been then or even earlier that Ellis Partridge sold their stake in the Redbank Brick Co.
The first trade directory entry for the Red Bank Brick Co. appears in Kelly's 1895 edition & this is followed by the 1899 entry. Also in Kelly's 1899 edition in the brick makers section is the entry for W. Massey, Oakthorpe. So it appears in 1899 Wilmot Massey took over the running of Redbank from his son, Joseph Massey (1877-1947). Access to this works (coloured red on the 1901 OS map above) was gained off Atherstone Road next to Red Bank House were Wilmot Massey lived & was principally a farmer.
I then found from Mike Chapman's article in the British Brick Society Journal that William Massey sold the Redbank Brick Co. to Mr. William Henry Lisney in 1919, who had interests in a local sanitary pipe company called Moore & Sons of Swains Park, Church Gresley. Also involved in this newly formed Redbank Manufacturing Co. were Lisney's two sons & J. Carey Moore. In tracing the Massey family I have found William Massey was christen John William Massey, born 1875, a Builders Merchant in Nuneaton in the 1911 census. His father, Wilmot Massey died in 1916, hence John William Massey selling Redbank in 1919. As wrote it appears Ellis Partridge & Co had sold it's shares in Redbank by 1919 with Mike not being able to find any evidence connecting Ellis Partridge to Redbank during his research. In 1931 the Redbank Manufacturing Co. was incorporated as a Limited company with the first board meeting taking place at the Midland Hotel, St Pancras on the 17th of July 1931. William Henry Lisney is recorded as Chairman & sons Messrs William Albert Lisney, John Lisney & J. Carey Moore were the company's Directors with William Albert Lisney as Managing Director.
A 1933 aerial photo of the Redbank works can be seen at this Link.
Several generations of the Lisney family continued to run Redbank after William Henry & these were son, William Albert Lisney, then his son Travers Lisney who took over in January 1959. Redbank in the late 1970's acquired it's neighbour the Coronet Sanitary Pipe Co., Redbank had gradually been purchasing shares in Coronet since 1952. With the removal of the Nuneaton railway line which had run between Redbank & Coronet, the two sites were joined together & in a program of expansion & modernisation Redbank then built four oil-fired low-thermal mass kilns on the Coronet site.
In the early 1980's J.C. Bianco, a Lisney family member previously working in Europe joined the company & subsequently became Chairman & Managing Director taking over from Raymond Lisney who I am assuming was the son of Travers Lisney. In 1987 Redbank purchased Stanley Brothers, a specialist blue brick & terra cotta manufacturer in Nuneaton & by the end of the following year Redbank had moved all of Stanley's terra cotta production to Measham, closed it's four works & then sold the sites for housing & factories. In 1984 Jeremy Capo Bianco succeeded his father as head of Redbank & together with his brother, Antony Bianco, Ken Russell, Peter Cobb & Tim Barnett, made up the Board of Directors.
In 2002 Hanson purchased Redbank's Soft Mud Brickworks with Redbank then concentrating on producing it's specialist products. However in January 2006 Hanson completed the purchase of the rest of Redbank. Hanson then proceeded to build their new ultra modern brickworks on the Measham site which took advantage of the vast amounts of clay still left on the site & could potentially produce 100 million bricks per year with just 28 people. Today Forterra operates this Measham works.
More can read about Redbank by Mike Chapman in the BBS Journal at this link.
Ellis, Partridge & Co.
This Ellis, Partridge & Company operating a brickworks at Measham had caused me many head scratching moments in trying to understand how they fitted in when there were only three brickworks in Measham of notable size & all were accounted for, but it was with Mark Cranston finding me a 1891 newspaper article that it all fell into place regarding Ellis Partridge owning a brickworks in Measham. Then with more newspaper finds & research Ellis Partridge were also involved with several other brick companies from at least 1881 & this has enabled me to put together a timeline for Ellis Partridge & Co. with them being listed as Brick Manufacturers in trade directories between 1881 & 1941. Ellis Partridge & Co. were primarily Slate Suppliers & Building Materials Merchants & Suppliers in Leicester & up to me writing this entry I had only found Ellis Partridge & Co. had operated there own brickworks in Woodville, Derbyshire between 1890 & 1925 & you can read what I have wrote about this works at this link.
So I hope you are sitting comfortably & I start with who owned what & how Ellis Partridge Co. & John Ellis & Sons were set up. The main player was William Henry Ellis, JP of Anstey Grange, Leicester & together with son Wilfred Henry Ellis they ran John Ellis & Sons, a coal, lime & cement business established by William's father, John. Then William Henry Ellis was the senior partner in Ellis Partridge & Co., Slate Merchants, & Brick & Tile Manufacturers together with sons, Wilfred Henry Ellis, Owen Alfred Ellis & Arthur Brewin Partridge. A third son Francis Newman Ellis was a Colliery Manager & later MD of the Sherwood Colliery Co. Ltd. living at Debdale Hall, Mansfield who appears not have been involved in the running of either of the Ellis companies, but was an executor & beneficiary in William's Will. However there is a brick connection with Sherwood Colliery having it's own brickworks.
The 1914 edition of Whitaker's Red Book records Ellis Partridge & Co. was established by William H. Ellis & Arthur B. Partridge in 1876 & from my findings this company were initially slate merchants. The 1881 census records Arthur Brewin Partridge as a Slate & Building Merchant employing 36 men & William Ellis is listed as a Coal & Lime Merchant (John Ellis & Sons). The first trade directory found recording Ellis Partridge & Co. as brick manufacturers appears in Kelly's 1881 edition with the office address of 10, Market Street, Leicester, but I have been unable to establish where they were brickmaking or with whom at this date.
A notice in the Leicester Chronicle dated 19th November 1887 for the newly formed Knighton Junction Brick Co. Ltd in Leicester tells us that the Directors in this company were William Ellis, Chairman, Arthur Brewin Partridge & Orson Wright, Leicester Builder, joint Managing Directors & Edward Sharman, who was also the MD of the Wellingborough Brick & Tile Co. I next found that in April 1886 William's son Owen Alfred Ellis had married Edward Sharman's daughter Margaret in Wellingborough, so I am assuming with this marriage that's how Edward Sharman got involved with the Knighton brick company. I come back to this company later.
With adverts & trade directories clearly recording Ellis Partridge's Woodville brickworks I was unable to establish the location of it's Leicester works as per this brick, so there is the option that this brick was made for Ellis Partridge at the Knighton Junction Brick Co's works, especially with the shape of this frog being known to be have been used in the 1880's / 90's. Bricks stamped Knighton Junction have also turned up.
This EP brick could have been made at the Measham works which I write about next, but the colour of the clay does not quite match the colour of the Redbank bricks in the Redbank entry above. I also note that I cannot discount EP making this Leicester brick at their Woodville works as the texture of the clay is very similar. Now back to the Measham brickworks which set me on my "Trail of Discovery" of the Ellis Partridge Company.
The next brickworks Ellis Partridge had shareholdings & interests in was the Redbank Brick Co. at Measham & the Burton Chronicle dated 19th of November 1891 reports on the dinner that launched the Red Bank Brick Co. naming it's Managing Director as Joseph Massey with William Henry Ellis, J.P. & Arthur Brewin Partridge as Directors. Also present at this dinner were W. H. Ellis' son Owen Alfred Ellis & Wilmot Massey, Joseph's father. As you can see from the adverts below you would think like I did that Ellis Partridge & Co. were the actual owners of Red Bank Brick Co. with them advertising they owned the "Redbank" trade name & owned the Measham works as well as their Woodville works, but that was not the case, they were just associated with Redbank & selling their bricks & terra cotta & promoting their quality wares. Both companies are listed in Kelly's Leicestershire directories at the same time, but Ellis Partridge do not give a works address. There is the option Ellis & Partridge increased the amount of shares they held in Redbank & became it's owners at the time of these adverts, but when Red Bank was sold to the Lisney family in 1919 the person selling the works was William Massey & as previously wrote in the Redbank entry, this was John William Massey, son of Wilmot Massey who had died in 1916.
Going back to 1893 & William Henry Ellis died on the 25th of November & several newspaper articles & the London Gazette report on how the structure of Ellis Partridge & Co. was to proceed. The London Gazette records that the partnership which existed between William Henry Ellis (deceased), Wilfred Henry Ellis, Owen Alfred Ellis & Arthur Brewin Partridge was dissolved by mutual consent & from the 1st of January 1894 Ellis Partridge would then be run by Owen Alfred Ellis & Arthur Brewin Partridge. So with Wilfred Henry Ellis leaving this partnership I am assuming he was now running John Ellis & Sons on his own with a newspaper article reporting William had put in his Will that his sons as Trustees would divide his businesses as they may think expedient. Further research has revealed Wilfred was running John Ellis & Sons with his cousin Geoffrey Ellis, son of Alfred Ellis, (Alfred was the eldest son of John Ellis & brother to William Henry).
In 1904 Ellis Partridge & Co. became a Private Limited Company. In late July 1909 Owen Alfred Ellis aged 48 took his own life. He was found by the proprietor of the boarding house where he was staying at in Crowborough, East Sussex. Apparently Owen had gone to Sussex for the benefit of his health. In his Will Owen left full control in the running of his business to his brother Wilfred Henry Ellis & brother-in-law William Campbell Sharman. It is unknown if these two gentlemen actually joined Arthur Brewin Partridge in the running of Ellis Partridge & Co. with a later find only recording Arthur Partridge & his son Frank at this company. The 1901 census records Arthur Partridge's sons, Franklin (Frank) Sunner Partridge b.1880 & Arthur Stanley Partridge b.1883 were both slate merchant clerks & the 1911 census now records them both as slate merchants, working along side their father. Whitakers 1914 Red Book records Ellis Partridge & Co. Ltd. Slate Merchants & Shippers, Slating & Tiling Contractors, Brick & Terra Cotta Manufacturers, Grey Friars, Leicester; Directors, Arthur Brewin Partridge, Chairman & Frank Partridge, Managing Director. I come back to Ellis Partridge & Co. Ltd. & the Partridge family later.
I now return to the Knighton Junction Brick Co. to complete this company's story & with the 1893 death of William Ellis this naturally affected this company as well with William being a major shareholder & Chairman. It appears Orson Wright then became Chairman & I have a newspaper article referring to Arthur Partridge as still representing the company in January 1910. However the men at Knighton's two works were given a weeks notice that the brickworks were to close in October 1909 due to poor sales. My thoughts are that Partridge stayed on to sell the existing stock. Then in January 1911 Orson Wright placed the Knighton Junction Brick Co. into Voluntary Liquidation & was Liquidated a year later.
I now move onto a another company Arthur Brewin Partridge was involved with, this being the Leicester Brick Co. In doing so I go back to 1901 & an article in the Leicester Evening Mail dated January 1910 reports that in 1901 with several local brick companies losing money by trying to undercut one another & in the interest of all concerned a decision was made to unite & form The Leicester Brick Co. to distribute it's members bricks. It's members were the Knighton Brick Co., Gypsy Lane Brick Co. & Barrows Brothers. Chairman of the Leicester Brick Co. was Orson Wright (Chairman of the Knighton Brick Co.) & it's Directors were Arthur Patridge, representing the Knighton Brick Co., Mr. J. Barrow & Mr. W. Barrow for Messrs. Barrow Brothers & Mr. W.H. Winterton for the Gypsy Lane Brick Co. With this article mentioning seven brickworks were involved it only named the ones that I have listed. This 1910 article goes on to say although the association worked well for a start, one by one through poor sales several brickworks closed until only the Gypsy Lane Brick Co. situated on Fairfax Road, Leicester was left. Both the Gypsy Lane Brick Co. & the Leicester Brick Co. continue to be listed in Kelly's up to the last available directory in 1941. Whether anymore brick companies joined the association trading as the Leicester Brick Co after 1910 is unknown. I then found the Leicester Brick Co. was placed into Voluntary Liquidation in November 1945 & was wound up on the 2nd of July 1946. The Gypsy Lane brickworks is still shown on the 1950 map & newspaper adverts record this Fairfax Road works was now being operated by the Leicester Brick & Tile Co., the last one found being dated December 1965.
I now return to Ellis Partridge & Co. for the final bit & as wrote Arthur Partridge was the company's Chairman in 1914, with his son Frank listed as Managing Director. On the 7th of July 1920 Arthur Brewin Partridge passed away leaving the running of Ellis Partridge & Co. to his two sons, Franklin Sunner Partridge & Arthur Stanley Partridge. Directories up to Kelly's 1916 edition still record Ellis Partridge & Co. as brick manufacturers. However in March 1930 the two brothers formed a new company called Ellis Partridge & Co. (Leicester) Ltd. taking over all the assets, stock in trade & the goodwill thereof, but excluding the stocks & shares of the previous company. Both men then became life governing directors of this new company which is listed in Kelly's 1932 & 36 editions as brick manufacturers as well as slate merchants & contractors & builders merchants. In August 1939 Franklin Sunner Partridge died leaving his share of the business to his brother Arthur Stanley Partridge. In April 1941 Ellis Partridge Kilbert & Co. was formed, taking over the business of the previous company & this new company is listed as Brick Manufacturers in Kelly's 1941 edition. Arthur Stanley Partridge & J. Kilbert are listed as life governing directors & H.T. Johnson is named as a director. It appears J. Kilbert had worked for Ellis Partridge & Co. from at least April 1913 when he was representing the company in a court case against the bankrupt T. Gray & Sons of Sheffield, with this company owing Ellis Partridge money. I then found J. Kibert had died before 1946 & it appears from a newspaper advert that by 1948 the company run by Arthur Stanley Partridge were trading as Ellis Partridge & Co. (Leicester) Ltd. again. Arthur Stanley Partridge died in December 1951 leaving a wife & two daughters. However the company continues to operate & was placed into Liquidation by it's members in January 1991.
So this now begs the question for how many years did Ellis Partridge continue to manufacture bricks & where ? The last listing for Ellis Partridge as brick manufacturers is Kelly's 1941 edition & there are no other references to the company making bricks after this date. Then where did they have their bricks made after their Woodville works closed & they had ended their relationship with Redbank. The only option I can put forward is the company Arthur Brewin Partridge was involved with, that being the Leicester Brick Co., which was administrating the sale of bricks for several brick companies. So the example below could have been made at the Knighton Junction brickworks when Partridge was a director there & the works was associated with the Leicester Brick Co., or at the Gypsy Lane Works owned by the Gypsy Lane Brick Co. which was the last brick company the Leicester Brick Co. distributed bricks for, which does take us to the early 1940's & the 1941 trade directory. It would have been nice if I had found info on Arthur's two sons being associated with the Leicester Brick Co. after his death, but none was found.
I started on this Ellis Partridge trail with many unanswered questions & even with finding much info in newspaper articles & adverts along the way, I have had to end this article with several questions that I have not been able to answer. As always if I get the answers, I will update the post.
Saturday 12 March 2022
Foreword by Martyn Fretwell - Since Jeff Sheard wrote his book, Clay Stealers to St Pancras Station: A History of Nottingham's Brickmakers, we have been in regular contact regarding other Nottingham Brickmakers & with Jeff now writing a more in-depth account of Edward Gripper's early life which was not in his book, I have created this post to showcase his new work.
Edward Gripper's Early Years in Nottingham 1852-1858 by Jeff Sheard.
Edward Gripper’s early years in Nottingham were shrouded in mystery, however information from the British Newspaper Archive now has made it possible to form a much clearer picture of his business activities after 1850. The first article from the Newspaper Archive introduces Mr William Whitehead whose primary occupation was an auctioneer, however with his “finger in many pies” he was also a freeholder and manufacturer of bricks "with three admirably run yards situated on Beacon Hill" located in the St Ann's district close to the town of Nottingham.
This article provides valuable information regarding the plant and equipment used to manufacture bricks before steam power was introduced in 1852 by Edward Gripper. Nottingham Brickmakers had already made inroads towards the "Holy Grail" of all-year-round brick production. This was absolutely necessary to meet the ever-increasing demands of the growing industrial town.
Nottingham Journal May 18th 1855.
TO FARMERS, BRICKMAKERS, BUILDERS AND OTHERS
To be Sold by Auction, on Tuesday, the May 22nd, 1895, at Eleven for Twelve O'clock Precisely, by MR W. WHITEHEAD, upon the premises, Mapperley Park, (Alexandra Park) Nottingham, the entire PLANT and STOCK-IN-TRADE of the BRICKYARD formally belonging to Mr W. Smith, the ground being required immediately for the setting out as villa sites. The plant consists of a excellent CLAY MILL, worked by horse-power; large CLAY HOVEL, covered with half-inch boarding; BRICKMAKING SHED 98 feet by 19 feet; Ditto, 92 feet by 19 feet, Ditto, 80 feet by 19feet, all covered with pantiles, nearly new. Extensive Flues with furnaces, dampers, and chimney; two large Kilns, with droughts, &c. The STOCK of nearly 200,000 common bricks, 20,000 Cants, 40,000 culverts; quantity of half-rounds, quarter-rounds, floor bricks, saddle copings, circulars &c.---The whole of the plant being new within the last three years, and the Stock good, the opportunity is a favourable one for parties building.
2, Albert Street, Nottingham
The traditional period for brickmaking on a smaller scale was from Our Ladies Day to St Michaelmas Day, March 25th to September 29th. St. Michaelmas Day was also a traditional holiday to celebrate the gathering of the harvest. Inclement weather conditions were the bane of traditional brickmakers. Horse-drawn clay mills had been introduced to the area as early as 1820, followed later with heated drying floors, covered brickmaking sheds and enclosed kilns with flues. Nottingham's seasonal brickmakers often worked in the malting trade during the winter months; malting barley for brewing purposes is a similar occupation all about kilns and critical temperatures.
Land released after the 1845 Enclosure Act was purchased by many speculators for building land, industrial and housing. A popular investment was to buy land on the clay fields, situated on the hilly terrain of the north-eastern outskirts of the town, then install a brick maker or brickmaking company who would pay rent until the clay had been exhausted. It was commonplace in Nottingham for earlier brickyards to remove only the top clay. This would remain the case until the powerful machinery needed to process the deeper more challenging compact clays were introduced. After the top clay reserves had been exhausted, brickmaking ceased and the freeholder would then be left with a ready prepared and levelled building plot, perfect for selling on at a healthy profit.
One area of obvious brickmaking is located on Woodborough Road (Mapperley Hills) adjacent to Hungerhill Gardens, the area was eventually incorporated into the southern section of the Alexandra Park Estate. The Nottingham City Council built a multi-storey block of flats on the location in the 1960s. The land was formally part of the Mapperley Common, a ribbon of land situated on the eastern side of Woodborough Road that stretched from Hungerhill Gardens to Porchester Road. The area had been associated with brickmaking, both official and unofficial, for hundreds of years. The Hungerhill Gardens (now allotments) are Britain's oldest and largest detached town gardens and because of its rich history, the 75 acre site has been declared a Grade II listed site. In the 1840s, the area was established as "Pleasure Gardens" to provide space for the middle classes to get away from the dirt and grime of the expanding industrial town.
An area of land formally Mapperley Common, (the date unclear), was purchased by a member of the Smith family, a prosperous family of Nottingham Bankers after one of Nottingham's Enclosure Acts, possibly before the extensive 1845 Act. One of my research adventures to this area provided the evidence of brickmaking on the site which was overwhelming. The clay hills situated to the rear of Alexandra Park (Hungerhills) were scattered with hundreds of reject bricks fused together in large blocks known as burrs. The evidence of over fired brick burrs pointed to a catastrophic kiln meltdown. It can take weeks or months to hack and chisel out the contents of a kiln when the temperature has been misjudged and overheated.
Edward Gripper (junior) was born in 1815 into a small Quaker Community in Layer Breton, Essex. His father was a landowner and farmer, a very active member of the local Society of Friends. The Gripper family lived at Layer Breton Hall and worked 256 acres of farmland. Edward Gripper received an excellent commercial education and was the manager of his father's estate and farm for many years, employing a considerable staff; 19 men and six boys are shown in the 1851 census. He worked with his father until 1850-51, he then made the decision to leave his native Essex give up farming and look for pastures new. He moved to Nottingham and invested in a pioneering Steam Powered Brickmaking Process. The family farm was later sold, and his remaining family moved to smaller accommodation, the White House, in Layer Breton.
With the repeal of the Corn Laws 1846, the future of farming looked rather bleak. In 1850 two newspaper articles appeared in the Essex Herald, proclaiming that Edward Gripper was now an "Appraiser and Estate Agent". The second article is aimed directly at poachers and anyone sporting on the land without authority. "Anyone doing so would be deemed TRESPASSERS and dealt with as the law directs".
So was Edward suffering some kind of midlife crisis or had he mapped out his future in a purposeful and calculated way ? Edward Gripper's name next appears on December 10th 1852, In the Nottingham Review under the headline - Scarcity of Houses in Nottingham. The article refers to the high prices charged for rent and the very high demand for these houses. There were eighty-four applications alone for one house situated in the select Derby Road area of Nottingham. "The demand for houses of every class is on a similar scale." The article then continues under the sub-heading, The Brick Manufacture.
It will be some consolation to builders and others, whose operations are retarded throughout the country by the supply of bricks being deficient, to learn that companies have been formed in the most eligible localities that could be selected, for the purpose of manufacturing them in steam factories by a new patent process. One of these establishments has for more than twelve months past been in operation on a small scale at Huntingdon, where six men and four boys are making sixty thousand bricks a week, no alterations in weather in the slightest degree interfering with their operations. Under the same patent, and on an improved scale, immense works are just being put down at Arlesey, also on the Great Northern Line, a little more than twenty miles south of the metropolis, where about a million-and-a-quarter will be made weekly for the London Market. Other works are in progress at Cambridge, where 120,000 a week will be made, at Rugby (120,000), Leicester (600,000), Liverpool (500,000), Manchester (600,000), Birmingham (600,000), Derby (120,000), Nottingham (360,000), Doncaster, for the great Yorkshire towns (800,000). The Nottingham firm trading under the name of Edward Gripper and Company has commenced active operations. We understand they will have a large supply of bricks ready for sale early in the ensuing spring. The company's works will occupy forty-six acres at Mapperley. As the clay of which the patent brick is made must necessarily be ground very fine and is then forced by immense mechanical pressure through the moulds, a brick is therefore produced that when burnt will ring like china and is "as sound as an acorn." Another great advantage the patent brick possesses over the common brick is that being perforated, one-third of the clay is thereby taken out of it, enabling one horse to cart six hundred of them along an ordinary road, instead of only four hundred, to the place where they may be required for use. When put into work, the perforations form so perfect a key for the mortar that a single brick wall is said to be as strong as an ordinary nine-inch wall. When placed under hydraulic pressure, the-patent brick will bear three times the weight of a solid wall before it breaks or is crushed. To the eye, the face of a patent-brick is as beautiful as are the faces of the pressed bricks, or more so, the brass dies through which they pass, about a dozen at a time at the rate of 2,000 per hour, imparting to them a glossy smoothness the pressed brick seldom gains. Mr Beart, of Godmanchester, is the patentee. As this adaption will give a great stimulus to building operations, much additional labour will thereby be created for the working classes, and none will be more benefited by it than brickmakers themselves. Instead of their employment, as previously being uncertain, and their occupation cheerless and demoralizing, there is now a certain prospect for them having work to attend all year round, ten hours a day, every working day alike (all clay getters excepted) within the works or factories, which may be rendered as comfortable for the operatives employed as any workshop in the United Kingdom. A still greater privilege to be conferred by this process upon the workmen and boys employed will be that the arrangements made entirely preclude the necessity of Sunday work, leaving them opportunities they have not hitherto enjoyed for mental and spiritual cultivation.
Edward Gripper first appeared in the local trade directories in 1853. It seems an incredible achievement that Gripper could leave the family business of farming at the age of 38 and within just a few years to be in charge of one the most productive brick companies in Nottingham. His ground-breaking introduction of steam power and automation increased production and lowered the cost of bricks while improving the product. Nottingham was now a boomtown and Gripper was definitely in the right place at the right time. Over 158 factories had been built between 1851 and 1857 for the lace and hosiery industries alone. The grandest buildings are still to be seen in the Lace Market. One observer commented that ‘’Nottingham had become the Manchester of the Midlands’’.
Wylie's Old and New Nottingham 1853 states "that an estimated 21 million bricks were brought into Nottingham and its suburbs the previous year’'.
At first the exact location of Gripper’s first brickyard in Nottingham was unclear & it was from another quote from Wylie's account which pointed to it's location. "A company under the name Messrs' Gripper and Co. have purchased an extensive piece of land on the Mapperley-Hill, where gigantic preparations for brick and tile manufacturing are being made". Unfortunately, Mapperley Hill is 1.5 miles long, so this information is somewhat vague. The clue that eventually clinched the exact location was that Gripper’s brickyard occupied an area of 46 acres. The actual area occupied by what become known in later years as the Mapperley Middle Yard, situated in the area referred to as the "Brickmaking Estate," situated to the northwest of Woodborough Road. The Mapperley Middle Yard was flanked on both sides by two other brickyards, Cartledge’s Yard off Private Road and Huthwaite's, a farmer and brick manufacturer, trading under the name of Mapperley Brick Company, Scout Lane (Woodthorpe Drive).
The date indicated for Gripper’s arrival in Nottingham is significant, 1852, one year after the Great Exhibition in London. Robert Beart is known to have displayed his Patent Brick Manufacturing Process, Page 41, of the Exhibition Catalogue. Constructing and establishing Mapperley Middle Yard as a going concern by December 1852 seems a gargantuan task even for a man with Gripper's talents. Maybe he was introduced to Beart's patented steam-driven process before the 1851 Great Exhibition ? It is still unclear how Gripper made contact with his future business partners John Green Hine and Thomas Chambers Hine. In the Nottingham section of Hunts Mining Statistics 1858, J G. Hine is quoted as the freeholder, Gripper, the brick manufacturer.
I stumbled upon a snippet of information possibly connecting Gripper and T C. Hine during some earlier research. Alfred Stapleton's History of Mapperley refers to a row of 16 brickmakers’ cottages, situated on Woodborough Rd, directly opposite Mapperley Middle Yard. According to Stapleton, the terraced row was reputed to have been designed by T C. Hine.
Fern Cottages, Woodborough Road, Nottingham.
The distinctive blue brick string course would have involved an extreme amount of work for the bricklayers, bricks having to be cut to size above and below the arching. A sure sign an architect was involved with the project!
The following information was found much later, in the publication Perry's Bankrupt Gazette February 18th 1854.
Partnerships Dissolved : Edward Gripper and Edward Gripper, Junior of Layer Breton, Farmers. September 29th 1855.
The next snippet of information is a real eye-opener! Published in the same newspaper, Perry's Bankrupt Gazette, October 6th 1855.
Partnerships Dissolved: Hine John Green, Edward Gripper, Jun. and Thomas Chambers Hine, of Mapperley, in Basford, and elsewhere, Brick and Tile Makers as regards T C. Hine September 10th I855.
Alexandra Park, Nottingham has a fascinating history and association with T.C. Hine and his brother John Green Hine, both of whom were responsible for the area's development during the 1850s. The following information is compiled from the website of the Mapperley and Sherwood History Group and gives a real insight into the brother's business activities during the period.
The Hine Family were a prosperous old family from Beaminster in Dorset. Jonathon Hine (senior) came to Nottingham in 1795, he started out as a framework knitter and rose to become a senior partner in Chambers, Wilson & Morley, later to become the famous I. & R. Morley Company. In 1803 he married Mary Chambers, daughter of Thomas Chambers. Ten years later in 1813 their eldest son Thomas Chambers Hine was born. Instead of joining the family firm he was articled to a London architect returning to Nottingham in 1834 to establish his own practice, initially in partnership with William Patterson a local builder. By the 1850s he was regarded as Nottingham's best and busiest architect. By 1850 Nottingham's lace trade was at its zenith with many nouveau-riche manufacturers seeking homes outside the town to display their new wealth and status.
Thomas Chambers Hine had his eye on a particular piece of land released as part of the 1845 Enclosure Act located on the lower section of the former Mapperley Common, plot no.163. The Hine brothers drew up an ambitious provisional plan for plot 163 shown on Frederick Jackson's 1861 map, but they immediately started to run into difficulties. Less than six months after purchasing plot 163, in January 1854 Thomas accepted the post of surveyor to develop the Duke of Newcastle's Park Estate, this occupied his attention for the next 30 years. His office was responsible for 200 of the 650 houses constructed. Thomas almost immediately sold his interest in plot 163 to his brother John who took out two large loans to buy out his brother. By October 1855 John was in serious financial difficulties and unable to meet the loan repayments, it looked as if the intended development would not proceed.
T C. Hine had already established a reputation for developing rather unprepossessing sites. Still the proposed estate (plot 163) was possibly not so attractive to clients until Woodborough Road had been created & with the area being levelled in 1886. It was that steep that horse-drawn carriages could only reach the entrance to the estate with difficulty. On the other hand the Park Estate in Nottingham was more attractive to clients because in addition to it being more accessible, it was extra-parochial and not subject to the Poor Law Rate or other local taxes.
However in 1857 John Hine managed to start the first four large houses situated on the southern edge of plot 163 at the entrance to the estate – Enderleigh, Fernleigh, Springfield and Sunnyholm. These four houses were designed by T.C. Hine and were strategically positioned with views down Trough Close and over Hungerhill Gardens. Enderleigh was intended as John Hine's family home, but he never lived in it and in 1862 he moved away to London. However he held onto the undeveloped land (west of Albert Road and north to Ransom Road) until 1881, when it was sold.
Map of the southern section of Alexandra Park, the blue outline corresponds precisely to the former Mapperley Common, before the enclosure act of 1845. The dotted line is the north boundary of Enderleigh, a sunken plot well below the level of the other houses, the former brickyard of William Smith.
The following newspaper article announces the dissolving of the partnership of John Green Hine and Edward Gripper and appears in the London Gazette on 2nd March 1858. The dates correspond with the development of the first four houses in Alexandra Park. It looks for all to see that J G. Hine sold the freehold of the Mapperley Middle Yard to Edward Gripper to help finance the new development.
NOTICE is hereby given, that the Co-partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned, Edward Gripper the younger, of the town of Nottingham, Gentleman, and John Green Hine, of the same town, Gentleman, as Brick and Tile Makers, at Mapperley, in the parish of Basford, in the county of Nottingham, and elsewhere, under the style or firm of Edward Gripper and Co., was dissolved as from the 1st day of January last.—As witness our hands this 27th Day of February 1858.
© Crown Copyright. Reproduced with permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1915.
Footnote by Martyn Fretwell - Coloured green on the 1915 OS map above, this was Edward Gripper's first yard which he established in 1852 & was later known as the Middle Yard when owned by Nottingham Patent Brick Co. In 1866 Edward Gripper went into partnership with William Burgass & the Nottingham Patent Brick Company was formed on the 3rd of June 1867. The yellow yard was Gripper's second yard, later NPBCo.'s Top Yard & the purple works was NPBCo.'s Bottom Yard. With the Top & Bottom Yards already closed the Middle Yard (green) closed in 1969 as part of the restructuring of the Nottingham Brick Co. and production was transferred to the Dorket Head works in Arnold. So the story of Edward Gripper after 1858 continues in Jeff's book if you have a copy or my Mapperley Post.