Made of bricks

While we’re on the subject of the Hickman family, Steve contacted me with an interesting photo of his  great grandfather, William Taylor, with this fascinating bit of local history. In all the focus on the mines and allied trades locally, it’s very easy to forget that north Walsall was world renowned for it’s high quality brick and tile products.

In this area, whilst we still have a couple of very large, modern, automated brickworks, they are as if nothing compared to the hundreds of artisan brickmakers and layers plying their trade a century ago. If you look at old buildings anywhere in Walsall, one can often see the delicately ornate work of the local brickmaker, in floral inserts, sculpted cornices, ledge-pieces and borders.

Aldridge brick and tile has been mentioned before on the blog, in the post ‘Green grew the rushes’, featuring a picture of Stubbers Green from the late seventies.

This is a fantastic piece of local history which I’m delighted to share. Does anyone know of the existence of this piece beyond the description given? Does it still survive? If so, where?

If you have anything to contribute to the story, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Brownhillsbob at googlemail dot com.

From Steve Hickman's family album - master bricklayer William Taylor demonstrates his handiwork.

Dear Bob,

I was not sure this story would appeal to anyone until I saw an old back copy of the ‘Black Country Bugle’. It seems there are people out there who have an interest in the history of the old Aldridge Brick and Tile Company.

My Great Grandfather William Taylor of Prospect House, Stonnall was by trade a master bricklayer. He worked for Aldridge Brick and Tile from the 1920’s until 1945 eventually becoming , I believe, the works foreman.

In the attached photograph he is putting the finishing touches to a brick mural. This mural was created as an exhibition piece for the 1933 British Industries Fair at Castle Bromwich. The BIF was the forerunner of the NEC. The last fair to be held there was in 1947. The Fair was held for two weeks each year at the end of February. With over two and a half thousand companies exhibiting. The photograph was probably taken for inclusion in the Fair catalogue or for company records. The mural won a crafts design award. The fair was visited by The Prince of Wales later to be King Edward VIII. It is quite possible he saw this exhibit. The Mural was then presented to Captain F.B.Clark the Managing Director of Aldridge Brick and Tile. He had it installed at his home Bensley House, Aldridge. In a wall either in the garage or an outbuilding. Where it may still exist. I think it is a great illustration of the skills of the men in the area past and present. It would be amazing in anyone else had any information they could add to this story.

Best Regards

Steve

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3 Responses to Made of bricks

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  3. Tracey Roberts says:

    The mural is still at Bensley House on our garage wall. The garage and workshop are in the process of being converted into a dwelling but we have insisted that the mural remain intact. It is a lovely feature and it was nice to read a little bit about it’s history.

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