Any voices from the beehive?

I’m fairly sure British Reinforced Concrete were the creators of the ‘Beehive’ system prefabs, common in Staffordshire like these at Hints Lane, Hopwas, many of which have now been re-skinned. Imagery from Google Streetview.

I’m on the cadge, please for information to help another historian who’s on the scent of something interesting, and could do with reader assistance if possible.

Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler is interested in the history of The British Reinforced Concrete Company in Queensville, Stafford which appears to have wound down in the late 1980s.

Peter is after information as to the details of it’s closure, and anything related to their business operations, customers or workforce, particularly social history.

I have a feeling they may have suffered from bad publicity related to the failure of the system building boom in the postwar period, but can’t confirm this. Can anyone help, please?

If you can assist, please do comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

There’s this wonderful Aerofilms photo on Staffordshire Past Track with some details which may jog memories…

Image from Staffordshire Past Track and held by the Aerofilms Archive.

The notes on Staffordshire Past Track read:

Date:1936 – 1937 (c.)

Description:The British Reinforced Concrete Engineering Company manufactured reinforced concrete structures and made steel mesh for reinforcing concrete. The company moved from Manchester to Stafford in 1926, building a new factory in Queensville.

Business declined in the 1980s, and the factory closed in 1990.

Radford Bank and Baswich can be seen in the background.

Copyright and ownership of this image is retained by Aerofilms Ltd.

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5 Responses to Any voices from the beehive?

  1. aerreg says:

    this was an interesting period of house building post war first the prefab then the concrete ones we gave them the nick name THE AIRY HOUSES many were offered by the council for tenant purchase and as you said folk reclad the outside with brick you knew you were aproaching stafford by train when you saw the massive site now an out of town shopping complex following the airy houses we had the SMITH system a LEGO block type plan these can be seen along BROWNHILLS RD then finaly a combination of all three types a large number were built in heath hayes the name escapes me at the moment their office site is now a lovely graising site for deer how time has changed to get a roof over our heads god bless

  2. aerreg says:


  3. Ian says:

    Hi Folk
    British Reinforced Concrete Engineering Co. Ltd, Stafford.

    The plant was built in the early 1920’s with the LMS providing access to the down slow lines at the east end (Colwich) of the sidings. Initially, 3 sidings were maintained by BRC as indicated in the Private Siding Agreement dated 31st December 1927. It is believed 3 locomotives worked at the site; a 0-4-0ST OC Bagnall as new (works plate dated 1925) with an open cab. The locomotive was sold in 1946 and replaced by a new diesel 4 WTG VB Sentinal “Streamline”. This was sold to Thomas Hill Ltd. in 1960 in exchange for one of their new 4w DH Vanguards. This locomotive continued on site until 1984 when it entered preservation at the Foxfield Railway. Traffic was often very heavy, although by the late 1960’s the need for the internal railway and sidings had begun to decline. The connection with BR was taken out of use sometime between 1979-81.

    Sources BR Private Siding Agreement diagrams
    – “Trent Valley Railway” Peter Lee 1988

    best wishes
    Ian P

    • Pedro says:

      Thanks, this ties in with the proposal given to the press just before the factory was built by BRCE Co in 1925…”the railway branches will run through each bay, so that the raw material may be delivered, and the finished product dispatched with the greatest ease and facility.”

      I believe it was one of the main reasons for the choice of the site for the factory by the “parent” company, Hall and Pickles, who had supposedly looked at another site at Bradley Fold near Bolton which was a similar distance from a rail link. The new site was needed as production had outgrown their site in Manchester.

      In the same time period Hall and Pickles also relocated another of their acquisitions from Manchester, the Chatwood Safe Company, to a new site at Harlescott in Shropshire. This also was close to the railway.

  4. Pedro says:

    The BRCE Company, while relocating their factory to Stafford in 1925, also built accommodation for the workforce a short distance away on the Burton Manor Estate, which they had acquired. According to the Stafford Borough Council…”As business declined in the 1980s, the factory eventually closed in 1990 and was demolished in October 1991.” In 2013 the Council issued the….Burton Manor Village Conservation Area Character Appraisal, concerning the “accommodation” that had been built around 1925….

    I believe there are a few inaccuracies in the document, but I would take issue with their assertion that Hall and Pickles had intended to construct a “model village” in the true sense of the phrase. Of course they built good quality accommodation, which was the norm at that time even for Council accommodation, but nothing that would compare to say Bournville in Birmingham.

    Hall and Pickles 1812 Ltd was founded in 1812 and is still going strong today. The BRCE factory closed but another subsidiary appears….BRC Special Products, Carver Road, Astonfields Industrial Estate.

    I have not been able to find any details of the closure, but on the face of it it seems that the workforce may have paid the price, while the model company shed a small part.

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