The Stonehouse Brick and Tile Company was founded in 1891 at the north side of the town, where Rosedale housing estate is now, alongside the Great Western Railway line. The brickworks had its own siding which was in use from 1891 to 1959.
In 1890 Edward Jenner Davies, whose family ran the cloth business based at Upper Mills, engaged Arthur W Anderson, who was manager of Bracknell Brickworks in Berkshire, to investigate the possibility of a brickworks on the Doverow site. Jefferies Brickworks was already working further along the valley at Ryeford. Arthur Anderson’s site report stated that the place seemed perfect to accommodate itself to the conditions. Anderson, who was only 31 at the time, was appointed as the first works manager and charged with the job of setting up the works from scratch; he stayed in Stonehouse and raised his family here. His grandson, Jack Anderson, later became a JP and chairman of the Parish Council.
Production started a year later and, at its peak, the site covered 20 acres (8.1 hectares) of land and could produce more than two million bricks a year. The bricks were obviously of good quality because they were mainly used in the building of first class residences, railway stations, churches, schools and public buildings, including Stonehouse Post Office which was built by local builder Andrew Blick. Many local houses were built from bricks produced in Stonehouse including the houses in Queen’s Road, Verney Road and Upper Queen’s Road, and also many houses in Rodborough. Ridge tiles gave these properties a distinguished look. Bricks were also exported to countries such as Canada, South America and South Africa.
The English Clock Tower in Buenos Aires was built in 1916 to celebrate the centenary of the May Revolution in Argentina.
In 2016 SHG sent a memorial plaque to be fixed in the Tower to commemorate the Stonehouse bricks. Click here to read more
They also made several patterns of decorative small animals – rabbits and frogs, they were made at the end of a working week when there was little to do but fire bricks and leave them. There were a lot of pattern makers about who would make a private pattern for a shilling or two; a mould was made from this and the clay for slightly less than a brick would be inserted into the jaws of a sort of very large tongs, with the mould, and squeezed. When the tongs were opened, out would come the animal which would be put into the brick furnace to be burned with the bricks. The tong and mould mechanism was ordinarily used for making all the ornamental moulding that you see on local houses; the rabbit is what was called a ‘toy’, in other words, something made for fun.
Geoffrey Young remembers squirrels, rabbits, frogs, hedgehogs, owls and birdbaths being made by Billy Shill in a workshop on the edge of the Brickworks. He also made fireplaces to order. This would have been in the 1930s and 40s.
Jefferies Brickworks also had these animals.
The Stonehouse Brick & Tile Co. Ltd. chimney was demolished in 1965.
Find out more
Article about the Brickworks in Stonehouse History Group Journal Issue 2
THE STONEHOUSE BRICK AND TILE COMPANY
By Dr Ray Wilson
Reprinted from: Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal for 1997 pages 14-26