TWO KILNS AND FOUR CHIMNEYS AT THE STEWARTBY BRICKWORKS

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1392357
Date first listed:
09-Jan-2008
Statutory Address:
TWO KILNS AND FOUR CHIMNEYS AT THE STEWARTBY BRICKWORKS

Map

Ordnance survey map of TWO KILNS AND FOUR CHIMNEYS AT THE STEWARTBY BRICKWORKS
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Location

Statutory Address:
TWO KILNS AND FOUR CHIMNEYS AT THE STEWARTBY BRICKWORKS

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District:
Bedford (Unitary Authority)
Parish:
Stewartby
National Grid Reference:
TL 01749 42692

Reasons for Designation

The Hoffman Kilns and chimneys at Stewartby brickworks are recommended for listing for the following principal reasons:

* The Hoffman Kilns are impressive structures which, in spite of necessary and expected repairs, are in a fair condition and as impressive as kilns already on the List.

* The Hoffman Kilns are square ended and comprise two parallel rows of chambers and are said to be of the type specifically designed for the Fletton industry.

* Stewartby is the last remaining of the Bedfordshire brickworks and designation of the two kilns and chimneys recognises the importance of these works in the history of England.

* The brickworks has international significance, having been for a time the largest brickworks in the world. * Designation recognises the iconic status of the brickwork's chimneys in the landscape. There have been brickworks chimneys at Stewartby since 1898.

* Designation recognises the lasting impact the brick making industry has had in forging the character of local communities due to the high number of workers who were encouraged to come from abroad specifically to work in the industry.



Details



179/0/10014 Two kilns and four chimneys at the Ste 09-JAN-08 wartby Brickworks

GV II

BUILDING: Two Hoffman Kilns (the southern most named CK1 and that to its north named CK3) with four chimneys, one surmounting each kiln, one amongst buildings adjoining the north end of CK1, and one detached to the south,

DATE: mid C20

MATERIALS: Constructed of red/yellow brick, laid to English bond.

PLAN: The chimneys are circular in plan, while the kilns are rectangular.

EXERIOR: The kilns are located at the north of the main works site, some 150m apart and on the east side of the railway line. In form they are flat topped with stoking holes into the firing chambers beneath and surmounted by a single, central chimney. The side elevations are formed of round headed archways to each firing chamber, the archways having voussoirs of four brick courses. Between each chamber arch are sloping brick buttresses which rise to a parapet wall that runs all around the top of the kiln. The square, end elevations are blind and battered out.

Kiln CK1 is adjoined at the north end by associated buildings built of steel clad with corrugated sheeting. At the north corner of these stands one of the four surviving chimneys. These buildings are now unused and were presumably erected for sorting and stacking. The steel and corrugated sheet structures are of less interest.

Repair and patching of the kilns and chimneys, some in different coloured brick, is clear.

The four chimneys taper and are banded with iron hoops for added stability. Modern steel platforms with access steps are attached along with modern equipment for monitoring smoke quality.

KILN INTERIOR: The arched chambers are brick lined with side vents through which the heat is drawn along the kiln. Beneath the floor are interconnecting flues through which air is drawn by the chimney.

HISTORY Brick making in this area was started in Westoning by B.J.Harfield Forder from Buriton in Hampshire. As this operation was successful Forder decided to expand into the Oxford clay belt. He opened new brickworks at Elstow and, in 1898, at Wootton Pillinge, later to be known as Stewartby.

Fletton brick making in the Peterborough area was quite well advanced by this time and Forder looked to this area when he needed partners to expand his business. All three of his sites were highly mechanised and he required more capital. Arthur and George Keeble joined Forder along with Halley Stewart, then a prospective Liberal parliamentary candidate. Stewart had capital to invest as he had recently sold his family's business in Kent.

The Keeble brothers did not want to remain in the brick making business, only wanting short-term investments, and soon sold their small brickworks to Halley Stewart to become part of the Forders' works. In 1900 Forders became a limited company and Stewart became the chairman. By 1910 Forders was producing 48 million bricks a year.

After the First World War the various brick makers within the Oxford clay belt had been reduced to four main groups, with many of the smaller brick companies losing out to competition. These four were Forders, the London Brick Company, the Itter companies and the United and Northan Brick companies. Gradually over the years the companies joined together to try to stabilise the costs and pricing within the industry. By 1923 all of the companies except Itter's had merged. They became the London Brick Company and Forders Ltd. with Percy Malcom Stewart (Halley's son) as Chairman. In 1927 the new company purchased a controlling interest in Itter's company and in 1936 the merged companies simply traded as the London Brick Company Ltd. These early C20 mergers and changes led to some expansion at Stewartby and it was during this period in the middle of the C20 that the surviving Hoffman kilns, CK1 and CK3, were built. An aerial photograph taken in 1929 shows that at that time the brickworks lay almost entirely to the west of the railway line that divides the site, with CK1 and CK3 yet to be built. Today the works lies almost entirely to the east of the line, that to the west having been demolished. In 1926 Stewartby produced 118 million bricks and work had started on the model 'garden village' to house employees.

Based on the strong moral and religious beliefs of the Stewart family the village of Wootton Pillinge was transformed into Stewartby Model village. As well as providing decent housing, the employees benefited from better pay and working conditions and the company benefited from having a greater degree of control over its workforce. The village became known as Stewartby in 1937 and was later given Parish status.

By 1936 Stewartby brickworks had become the largest brickworks in the world, and was employing 2,000 people and producing 500 million bricks per annum; the largest part of the vast Bedfordshire industry which together employed over 5,000 people at its peak. The development of the brickworks has been a major factor in forging the character of the local communities. After the Second World War, when labour was in short supply, many workers were encouraged to immigrate from other countries to work in the industry; initially from Commonwealth countries and Poland, and then Italy and parts of Asia,

Stewartby was still said to be the largest brickworks in the world in 1979. There were then two other working brickworks in Bedfordshire at Ridgmont and Kempston Hardwick. These have since ceased production, little of them now surviving, leaving Stewartby as the sole working Bedfordshire brickworks.

As noted above, the works to the west of the railway, the earliest part of the site, has been almost entirely cleared of buildings of any historic interest. On the east side of the line, two Hoffman Kilns have been demolished along with three of the seven chimneys that survived until recently.

The Hoffman Kiln was patented by a German engineer Friedrich Hoffman for brickmaking in 1858 and Humphrey Chamberlain took out an English patent in 1868. Over time the design ws improved and adapted. In the C20, the layout of the chambers was changed to form two rows, back to back in a regualar rectangle. A special design for the Fletton brick industry incorporated additonal flues for drying and warming. It is these C20 versions which survive at Stewartby.

SOURCES Cox A. Brickmaking: A History and Gazeteer. 1979

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION DECISION

The Hoffman Kilns and chimneys at Stewartby brickworks are listed for the following principal reasons:

* The Hoffman Kilns are impressive structures which, in spite of necessary and expected repairs, are in a fair condition and are as impressive as kilns already on the List.

* The Hoffman Kilns are square ended and comprise two parallel rows of chambers and are said to be of the type specifically designed for the Fletton industry.

* Stewartby is the last remaining of the Bedfordshire brickworks and designation of the two kilns and chimneys recognises the importance of these works in the history of England.

* The brickworks has international significance, having been for a time the largest brickworks in the world. * Designation recognises the iconic status of the brickwork's chimneys in the landscape. There have been brickworks chimneys at Stewartby since 1898.

* Designation recognises the lasting impact the brick making industry has had in forging the character of local communities due to the high number of workers who were encouraged to come from abroad specifically to work in the industry.



Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
503054
Legacy System:
LBS

Legal

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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