Last week, we looked at early evidence of local brick making on an industrial scale, after a remarkable passage describing a local brickworks was spotted in an 1850 book by the wonderful Simon Briercliffe.
I have to say, this prompted much more debate than I expected, and I’m surprised how much interest there is in pre deep mining industrial history amongst the readership.
As ever, I’ve had some lovely contributions in response – but writer of regular rail articles for the blog and expert industrial historian Ian Pell has again surpassed himself with an analysis of early local brick making and its connection with the great local rail construction projects.
Thanks to Ian for another thought provoking and fascinating contribution – if you have anything to add, please do – either comment here of mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.
I thought you might like the following to use as a follow-up to your recent The Kiln Fields article. I believe that the brickworks the gentleman is referring to is possibly the blue brickworks of Brawn and Arrowsmith which later became Jobern’s Ltd, which at the time (c.1851) was quoted as ‘off the Walsall Wood Road’.
The Daw End bracn of the Wryley and Essington was in part completed in 1800 and used extensively for the transportation of bricks from the area. The area was known for its Utopia bricks which were and still are exceedingly hard and well-wearing.
The various brickworks – Atlas, Empire, Aldridge Colliery and Tile Co, E.H.Barnett, J. Beddows, Vigo, Joberns, Walsall Wood Colliery were all at some time severed either by the Midland Railway via the Walsall Wood Branch or by the L&NWR via the Leighswood Branch. I do not think that the works at Walsall Wood Colliery ever exported via the colliery line to Norton Junction?
The brickworks were used extensively by the Railway Companies due to the superb engineering qualities of the bricks. Virtually the whole of the South Staffs Railway was constructed of blue brick which was a considerable benefit to the railway in having local sources.
Prior to the railway there were other sites such as Sandhills, Shire Oak which extracted marl – I am assured that the material is marl rather than clay. [Correct – Bob]
The Leighswood Branch was opened to traffic in November 1878 and although single track had a very extensive freight service, with up to three Trip locomotives working the branch at various dates. It was also restricted as to the types of locomotive able to use the branch, with only one recorded sighting of a Super ‘D’ in the 1940s. The work was usually shared by Johnson’s 0-6-0’s. The climb up from the Stubber’s Green end to Leighswood Sidings was extensive and hard.
Often the shunt loco Came to rest under the Lichfield Road bridge. This was convenient for the local pubs! This area was also prone to flooding and in the early 1960s I clearly remember at least five feet of water accumilating under the bridge. The line ‘officially’ closed on the 31st December 1960 but like many of the lines in the area remained in-situ for several years. At one stage the trackbed was being considered as part of an orbital road to relieve North Walsall!
Anyway, enough of my ramblings, on to the pictures. Hope you enjoy.