Brimington brickmaking in the spotlight

It’s not an industry that is anything like unique to Brimington, but brickmaking, particularly in the mid to late 19th century and early 20th century, was an important local industry. The very bricks out of which many houses of the time were constructed were actually produced locally and from the clay and coal also mined locally.

This enlarged 25-inch to one mile Ordnance Survey map of 1918 clearly shows the brickworks at the Calow end of Manor Road. Our new download shines some light on the various owners and companies that operated it, along with some other brickworks in Brimington. Today, a pond, to the rear of 391 Manor Road, is a remnant of the extraction and production works on this site.

To highlight brickmaking in the parish, we’ve been able to make available an article, as a download (see bottom of this blog), which was originally published in the Journal of the North East Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology Society, (NEDIAS), Volume 1, September 2006. It’s by Philip Cousins and the late David Wilmot. Though it particularly focusses on brickmaking activities at a works once situated at the southern end of Manor Road (at the junction with Westmoor Road), there’s also an overview of other brick-making activities in the parish.

Amongst brick yards mentioned are those near what was the Brickmaker’s Arms on Manor Road (a bit of a give-away), at Wheeldon Mill and at Eastwood (‘Thistle’) Park, amongst others.

A photograph of John Plowright Houfton from Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire at the Opening of the Twentieth Century: Contemporary Biographies, edited by W.T. Pike, published in 1901. Houfton had interests in the Manor Road brickyard for a short period.

David Wilmot, who sadly died in 2008 was a founder and chairman of NEDIAS, an organisation which is still flourishing today. He was particularly interested in railways – the Lancashire, Derbyshire and East Coast Railway (LDEC) line in particular. The Bolsover Colliery company had interest in the LDEC as it opened up the coalfield further, with its projected line from the Lancashire west coast to the east coast. As is well-known, it never reached either coasts – it’s terminus was in Chesterfield at the now demolished Market Place station, next to the Portland Hotel. David, perhaps naturally, was also interested in the Bolsover Colliery Company and one of its chief protagonists John Plowright Houfton. Whilst researching the company’s letter books at the Derbyshire Record Office, David, identified some correspondence which was actually Houfton’s own. And that correspondence was about purchase of the works at the bottom of Brimington Common, in 1895.

As the article reveals, it’s not quite clear whether Houfton was actually sole owner, or indeed an owner of the so-called ‘Brimington Brick Company’. It is certain, though, that his father Elijah Houfton was involved in ownership. But by 1899 the brickworks was under the control of Thomas Cropper (trading as Moor and Cropper), who appear to have operated there for sometime. The works were shown as disused on the Ordnance Survey map of 1938. Today, a pond, to the rear of 391 Manor Road, is a remnant of the extraction and production works on this site.

David Wilmot knew of Philip Cousins’ interest in the industrial archaeology of the area and so the two agreed to cooperate on the article “The Brimington Brick Company” – north east Derbyshire’s brick making in microcosm. Though it dates from 2006 it still gives a useful overview of the brickmaking industry in Brimington of the Brimington Common works in particular. Much, of course, remains to be discovered about this and other industries in Brimington. But we hope that this, our most recent download, will shine some light on a largely forgotten industry.

Find out more about JP Houfton by downloading his biography here.

Download the article “The Brimington Brick Company” – north east Derbyshire’s brick making in microcosm below or on our downloads page.

This blog was amended on 4 May 2021 to correct an address on Manor Road.

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