Saturday, 18 January 2014

Sherwood, Welbeck, Thoresby, Bilsthorpe & Ollerton Brickworks


Sherwood Colliery was in Mansfield Woodhouse, with its pit shaft being sunk in 1902. 1st production of bricks - date unknown. Nationalised in 1947, this brickworks closed on 19th April 1958 with the pit closing in 1992. A large housing estate now occupies the site.

Update 18.3.16.
This information is from an uncredited article at Angel Row Library, Nottingham which may have been produced by the National Coal Board.
Adjacent to the colliery this brickworks was owned by Sherwood Colliery Co. Ltd. & brickmaking started in the early 1900's. In 1912 the works consisted of two Manchester 18 chamber type kilns producing 10 million bricks per year using clay shale from the colliery & the stiff plastic method. Two more kilns were added in 1922/3. Production in the 1930's reached 7.75 million bricks per year. During WW2 (1939 to 1945) one kiln was closed. The colliery & brickworks were then Nationalised in 1947 & production reached 6.75 million bricks in that year. Then the article then confirms the date when the brickworks closed in 1958.

See link for excellent ariel photo of brickworks & pit taken in 1932.

This next link is a photo of men loading the kiln at the brickworks.

Updated 26.3.17.
Just photographed this "blue" Sherwood Colliery brick in Mansfield. I use the term "blue" very lightly as you can see from the second photo that it is red underneath the surface. The brickworks must have experimented in burning bricks at a higher temperature in an attempt to produce blue bricks. As we know true blue bricks are made from Etruria clay which is mostly found in the West Midlands. The Butterley Brick Co. in Kirkby also attempted to produce blue bricks from the local clay & they ended up with the same results. As this is the very first Sherwood Colliery "blue" brick that I have come across, I expect this venture was not successful.


 Photo from the Frank Lawson collection.

Meden Vale near Warsop was the location for this pit & brickworks. Sunk in 1912, the colliery was owned by the New Hucknall Colliery Company based in Hucknall under Huthwaite (now part of Sutton in Ashfield & just known as Huthwaite). I have mining references to the Welbeck brickworks being in operation in 1933 & 1940. The brickworks was Nationalised in 1947 along with the pit, but I do not have the date when it closed. The pit closed in May 2010. The site is now in the process of being transformed into a country park & industrial units are to be built in the future.

Update 18.3.16.
This information is from an uncredited article at Angel Row Library, Nottingham which may have been produced by the National Coal Board.
Welbeck Brickworks was originally owned by the New Hucknall & Blackwell Collieries Ltd. & was located at the side of the colliery. Coal & clay shale was used from the colliery with the pit also supplying electricity, steam & water to the brickworks. 
1926/7 saw the start of brick production at Welbeck using a Hoffmann 20 chamber type kiln which produced 4,600 bricks per hour. A second 18 chamber Hoffmann kiln was added in 1934 & production rose to 12 million bricks per year with 85% of the works bricks being made using the colliery's clay shale & the stiff plastic method. The colliery & brickworks became part of NCB in 1947 through Nationalisation. The brickworks was then transferred to the Midland Brick Co. in 1967/8 with production reaching 10.4 million bricks in 1968. Further reorganisation of NCB's brickmaking activities in 1970/1 resulted in the brickworks at Welbeck being transferred to the new wholly owned NCB subsidiary, NCB (Ancillaries) Ltd. The brickworks then passed out of the control of the NCB in 1973 with it's assets being sold to Butterley Building Materials Ltd. The brickworks closed in 1975.
Just to note, it appears from the information in this article that the Midland Brick Co. may have been part owned by NCB with the brickworks then coming back under the full control of NCB in 1970/1, but I cannot confirm this fact.

Update 21.9.17.
Mike Chapman has sent me an image of a Midland Brick Co. pamphlet (below) which is dated August 1968 & the following info.
This pamphlet is dated 1968 & coincides with the NCB forming the Midland Brick Co. as a wholly owned subsidiary, getting twelve brickworks ready for a future sell off. As far as I’m aware the only works from this group which still is going is Desford, now owned by Forterra.
As a recap The Midland Brick Co. was sold to Butterley Brick in 1973 with the Welbeck brickworks then closing in 1975. So it looks like it was not viable to keep this brickworks open. 
I have to note from the information about the Welbeck brickworks in the Library article as being transferred to NCB Ancillaries Ltd in 1970/1 may now be incorrect as it was through Butterley's acquisition of the Midland Brick Co. in 1973 that resulted in this works being owned by Butterley. Also Mike confirms that the Midland Brick Company was wholly owned by the National Coal Board. 

Also to note is that Annesley is in this list of brickworks owned by the Midland Brick Co. I have a date of 2000 for the colliery closing under NCB, but no date when the brickworks closed. So the brickworks at Annesley may have experienced the same fate as Welbeck around 1975 under Butterley ? There is the option that the Annesley brickworks did not get sold to Butterley, as I have not found any info relating to this happening other than the works being listed in this pamphlet.

I have added this link which explains how Butterley/Hanson became Forterra.


Photo by MF courtesy of the Frank Lawson collection.

Thoresby Colliery at Edwinstowe near Mansfield was sunk in 1925 & was owned by the Bolsover Colliery Company. Nationalised in 1947, it is still in production today & is owned by UK Coal Ltd. This is the last working pit in Nottinghamshire. 

Update - Thoresby Colliery closed in July 2015 - NOW ALL OF NOTTINGHAMSHIRE PITS ARE GONE & LOST FOREVER !

I have not been able to find any information about a brickworks at the pit, so with Frank finding this brick in nearby Ollerton it could have been made in Thoresby village or on the Thoresby Hall Estate. 


Photo by David Penney.

Bilsthorpe Colliery was sunk between 1925 & 1928 by the Stanton Ironworks Co. The brickyard which was adjacent to the colliery had been established a few years before the sinking of the shaft to produce the vast amount of bricks needed to construct the shaft & many buildings. To accommodate the men who sank the shaft, 60 bungalows for family's & 9 communal bungalows for single men were erected, more than likely using bricks made at the works.

 © Crown Copyright. Reproduced with permission of NLS/Ordnance Survey 1955.

1955 OS map of Bilsthorpe Colliery & it's brickworks which I have coloured green.

Photo reproduced with the permission of Robert Bradley & Fionn Taylor at

It looks like this photo of the kiln was taken after the brickworks had closed possibly around 1980 & was in the process of being demolished. It originally cost £5,300 to build this 20 chamber kiln & £1,456 was spent on erecting the building to house the two brickmaking machines which had been supplied by Bradley & Crane of Wakfield at a cost of £4,250. These brick making machines used the stiff plastic method process & the works produced 120,000 bricks per week. The chimney was demolished in 1983 & a photo of the chimney falling can be seen at the link.

Photo reproduced with the permission of Robert Bradley & Fionn Taylor at

Bricks made at this brickworks cost 17s 0d (old money) per thousand to produce & were used to line the roadways at the colliery as shown above. Many bricks were used as they were cheaper to produce than pouring concrete to form the roadways. 

The colliery closed on 27th March 1997 after 70 years of coal production.

More can be read about Bilsthorpe Colliery, Bilsthorpe village & it's workers at this link, from which I have gathered the information for this post. Many thanks to Fionn & Bob for the use of their photos & info.


Photo by Simon Patterson.

This Ollerton double pressed brick is a bit of a mystery in who made it. The only company that I know about operating in Ollerton is the Butterley Brick Co. & from bricks found the Butterley name has always been stamped in them. Butterley first opened their brickworks at Ollerton in 1919 & was fully operational by 1925 using a Hoffman type kiln. So my only conclusion is that this was an early example made by Butterley. 

This 1936 photo shows Ollerton Brickworks in the foreground with the housing of New Ollerton in the centre of the photo. The site of the former brickworks & it's surrounding area has now been restored as a green space with the planting of trees & is called Ollerton Pit Wood. Ollerton Colliery to the left of the village is now the home to a Tesco store, head offices of Centre Parcs & an eco industrial estate.

Butterley then relocated to a new site at Kirton in 1956. This Kirton works is still in production today operating under Hanson Brick. As no bricks have been found stamped Butterley Kirton, I am taking it that they continued to stamp their bricks Ollerton or they had moved over to produce wire cut bricks as Hanson's do today. In March 2015 this works along with Hanson/Heidelberg's other brickworks was purchased by Lone Star Funds which re-branded as Forterra in October 2015. As of 2017 the Kirton plant is still in production.


An example of a Butterley Ollerton made brick. Variations of the company stamp mark made at Ollerton can be seen in my Butterley Post. 

Update 30.11.16.
I have just been sent these two photos of Butterley's Kirton works by Marg who told me that the photos were taken by Nancy Hepworth, but she had no details about them & Nancy has sadly passed away. So possibly taken in the 1970/80's, the people in the photos may be ramblers or it may have been an organised tour of the works which I am favouring. 
I then sent the photos off to Tony who I knew had worked at the works & this was his reply :- I worked at the works from the late 1970's to 1982 driving the lorries which took the clay from the quarry down to the kibbler machine which broke the clay up. The top picture is of the quarry looking towards Laxton and the bottom picture is the works & looking towards Boughton, Walesby and beyond, towards the Thoresby estate. 


  1. Hi Gingerbenn, I would be tempted towards the latter explanation of it being a guided tour of the brickworks and quarry.

    I was based in the lab at Kirton from 1981 until I took early retirement in 2008.

    The pictures show the works when it had Hoffman kilns rather than the modern tunnel kiln.

    1. Thanks Ron for contacting me with your information. It has filled in a few more gaps in getting to the bottom of these photos. As we always say, if only this lady had wrote on the back of these photo what the occasion was, we would not be in this conundrum. Thanks again Gingerbenn.


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