Wherstead Red bricks / Brickyards in Ipswich
"The sites not only made bricks. They
also made roof tiles, chimney and flower pots."
The Grove Brickyard,
The Dales Brickyard,
Bloomfield Street Brickyard,
Howard Street Brickyard,
The Valley Brickyard,
Suffolk Road Brickyard,
Broom Hill Brickyard,
Over Stoke Brickyard
Des Pawson, who ran his Museum of Knots & Sailors Ropework
from 501 Wherstead Road in Ipswich, sent this intriguing piece of
lettering, impressed into the 'frog' of a red house brick. He writes:
"Here is a piece of lettering that will be hidden in the older
buildings of Wherstead Road. Wherstead Reds, were bricks made at the
brickyard which operated [half-way between Bourne Hill – now blocked at
the top, because of the A14 – and The Strand by the river*]. Our house,
built 1924, used
Wherstead Reds throughout. It is a nice thought that one's house is
built from the local earth...
[*Information in square brackets is an update after
consulting the Suffolk Heritage Explorer website (see Links).]
... For good measure the name of our house from the same year
in stained glass over the front door." (Des also points out the
all-important full stop in the leaded light sign.)
courtesy Des Pawson
The brick itself definitely does not looks as if it has been
turned out by the million in a factory. It may not be particularly
‘public’ (even though, as a piece of lettering, it surrounds many local
people in their homes), but it’s certainly historic lettering. It's
a little like one of those conceptual puzzles: you know it's there a
thousand times over, but is completely invisible, unless you have one
or two spares, like Des. Our thanks to him.
More from Suffolk Heritage Explorer: 'Brick
Yard' shown on OS 1" map of 1838. Operated by Clifford Theobald in
1909; W Meadowcroft in 1910; William George Gardiner from 1912-1925;
Albert Abbot from 1926-1930 and Herbert Abbot from 1931-1943.
Note: our page about Bourne Park
section about Stoke Park Mansion which shows a map from the early 1930s
locates another (perhaps related) 'Brick Yard' south-east of the
parkland (part of
which is now Bourne Park) and next to the railway.
“It is generally accepted that the English lost the art of brickmaking
after the Romans left and the Dark and Middle Ages were characterised
by other materials as well as some re-use of Roman brick. Brickmaking
continued on the continent and with the proximity of East
Anglia to the continent it is always possible that bricks were
imported, notably from Flanders. Some of the earliest English-made
bricks can be found at Little Wenham Hall c.1270.
In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries Suffolk and Norfolk were the
most prosperous industrial counties in Britain. Wealth poured
into Suffolk, first from wool and then from cloth. Suffolk
has no building stone but until Tudor times was rich in oak
forests. Thus the need for bricks was driven by a lack of other
materials and the wealth to afford them.
As well as the familiar red bricks, the heyday of white bricks was the
C19th century, when an important centre of production was Woolpit; a
great many can be seen in the Ipswich neighbourhood.
By the middle of the nineteenth century the brickmaking industry in
Suffolk had achieved a more than local significance, because with the
advantage of convenient water transport and later by making use of the
railways, some of the County’s larger brickmaking concerns played a
large part in supplying the needs of builders outside the region.
Brickworks made good use of the railways… the Grove Brickworks at
Ipswich and Dukes Brickworks from a line at Westerfield (Dukes was in
production until 1959). Valley Brickworks in Foxhall Road (later
Celestion and Bull Motors, now residential) also had sidings of its
own.” [Information extracted from
Suffolk Pevsner website; see Links.]
In the 19th century many more Ipswich
brickyards are recorded:-
1. 'The Potteries' at the eastern end of Rope Walk.
Brickworks (named after the nearby Holy
Trinity Church) was situated between Fore and Back Hamlets; its
claypit was later the site of Ransome's wartime aircraft works, 'the
See our Plough Street page for a 1902
map of this brickyard and the surrounding area.
3. A brickyard where Myrtle Road is
4. A brickyard in The Grove off Henley Road.
5. Bolton's Brickyard in The Dales was one of the
biggest in Ipswich.
6. Orwell Brickyard on Hog Highland, between
the east bank of the Orwell and Sandy Hill Lane ('The Lairs') in the
area now called
7. A brickyard in California,
situated close to Bloomfield Street.
8. A brickyard between Woodbridge Road and Spring Road, near
9. Valley Brickworks in Foxhall Road, opposite Henslow Road.
10. A brickyard is marked in Suffolk Road, off Cemetery
11. The Broom Hill
brickyard east of the Norwich Road.
12. Another yard existed, accessed via a lane beside the
Maypole public house on the old Norwich Road (an area also,
confusingly, called 'The
13. In Over Stoke there
was a brickyard abutting Rectory Road on the site of the later Hartley
Street (which still
exists). It is shown on the 1867 map detail on our Stoke Hall page. A nearby modern housing
development called Brickfield Close (off old Wherstead Road) must be a
reference to this.
14. Wherstead brickyard (see top of page), on a site between Bourne
Hill and The Strand.
SEE THE NUMBERED SECTIONS BELOW FOR
FURTHER DETAILS ON MANY OF THESE BRICKYARDS...
Brickyards in Ipswich
(we'll add more detail about further brickyards when they become
1. 'The Potteries'
"The largest number of [Anglo-Saxon] kiln sites [producing
Ipswich Ware] has been found just inside the eastern section of the
late Saxon rampart and ditch which ran down what is now Upper Orwell
Street. From there, outside the rampart and across what was open
countryside a lane, later called Rope Lane or Potter's Lane, lead
towards St Helen's parish where the ground rises steeply – a scarp in
fact which forms today the boundary between the site of Suffolk College
and Alexandra Park, a public recreation ground. At the base of this
scarp, during the 1980s, site clearance in preparation for the building
of a new Art School for the College took place, and large drills probed
deep down into the subsoil. What the core of these drills brought up
was quantities of pure white clay. In 1850, John Glyde, the Ipswich
antiquarian and historian, had stated that beneath as he called it the
'St Helen's pottery ground' the stratum of clay was thirty feet thick.
It is very likely that here was the source of raw material for the
making of Ipswich Ware in the Saxon town. The scarp itself may
therefore be man-made not natural, the result of centuries of use in
this way. On his pictorial map of 1610 John Speed has drawn, on the
ground in this location, a number of small mounds which could arguably
represent spoil heaps, and in 1674, some thousand years after Ipswich
Ware was first made, John Ogilby's plan shows at that exact point two
fields marked 'Pasture'. In one he has added 'Claypitt for Brick
and tyle' and in the other marked the site of a large 'Clay pitt'.
Joseph Pennington's map of 1778 similarly picks out a clay pit, on
'Brick Kiln Yard', slightly to the north of Ogilby's location which is
logical assuming that extraction would have shifted across the open
site. A plan of 1803 of an adjacent property to that same site names it
'Mr Gooding's Pottery', and the Tithe map of St Helen's in 1884
confirms the position of the 'Pottery Ground' and its associated
Frank Grace: Rags and bones
(see Reading list).
The London clay found in the Ipswich area makes excellent bricks
for building. In 1589 the late Henry Wiseman was described as 'a
brickstriker' denoting the action of cutting off, or striking off, of
the excess clay from the top of a brick mould. Among his effects were
burnt and unburnt bricks and paving bricks with logs, brushwood and
whins (gorse), presumably for kiln-firing. Perhaps Wiseman had been
working the brickyard in east Ipswich shown on Ogilby's 17th century
map as 'Claypitt for Brick & tyle' (see detail below).
William Robinson in 1771
advertised 'Pots for the Cure of Smokey Chimneys, adapted for 9 to 12
and 14-inch Funnels, as good as any in London; also fine Rubbing Bricks
and black Cornice, red Pantiles and
glazed ditto, and all sorts of Bricks and Tyles'.
'Rubbers', despite the same name as erasers, were actually
fine-textured bricks which could be rubbed and shaped into decorative
features which would have been difficult to achieve using a
mould. See the Ipswich coat of arms on Gatacre School as an example. (Information
from Malster, R.: History of Ipswich.)
Ogilby's map 1674
Our Ropewalks page
contains a larger
detail of this area from the 1674 map. Working south from the Church
Helen (upper section), we cross St Helens Street (then called 'Great
Wash Lane' to the west and 'The Road to Woodbridge' to the east) past
the houses and yards lining the street, through some orchards and
thence to 'Claypitt for Brick & tyle'. It is
notable that 'Rope Lane' (today's Rope Walk)
disappears off to the west, with 'Rope yards' below it.
So, two of the oldest manufactories (rope-making and pottery) operated
side-by side. Clearly it made good sense to build your kilns
close to the place the
clay was dug.
The comparative map details shown below from Ogilby (1674),
Pennington (1778), White (1867) and from the 1902 map show the area of
land south of St Helen Church in St Helens Street. Each
map is bracketed by the
curve of St Helens Street at the top and the roads at the bottom.
1674 map. The short lane
the south-west of the church is identified as today's Dove Street with
its junction with Rope Lane (today's Rope Walk). The rise in the land
to the east is indicated by the image of a windmill atop a hill. Note
also that St Helens Street is labelled 'The Road to Woodbridge' and
Back Hamlet to the south is 'The way to Brightwell'.
The 1674 'Claypitt for Brick & tyle' close to
and south-east of this junction, along with the oval 'Clay pit' in one
of the pastures below it, indicates the site of the earlier workings.
1778 map. Formal gardens and
orchards are more prominent with 'Long Lane' (today's Long Street)
delineating the line of the boundary to the west of the 'Brick Kiln
Yard'. The contour of the escarpment of the future Brickmakers Wood is
delineated to the east of the site. St Helens Street is 'St
Helen's Wash' (due to the water flows from
the springs at Cauldwell Hall; Back Hamlet is 'Wyke's Ufford Hamlet'
(see our St Clement Church page for an
1867 map. The density of
streets and housing of 'The Potteries' area now hem in 'St Helen's
Pottery'. Woodhouse, Regent, Mount, Alfred, Arthur and Hill Streets all
encroach on the former Brick Kiln Yard and the workings have moved
south with a very noticeable contour of the clay-digging cliff. The
tree-lined Hill House Estate and home of the Byles family, who owned
the park for more than 100 years, is visible to the east.
1902 map. As the centuries pass
the brickyard moves further south until, on the
1902 map, we see it close to the St
Clement Congregational Church (the legend reads 'Cong. Chap.') with
two kilns and other features shown. The northern sites, orchards and
fields have been heavily built on by this time, often with low-grade
housing with poor or no sanitation. The area to the
east owned by the Byles family of Hill
House became Alexandra
Park 1903-5. The 'cliff' of Brickmakers Wood, rising from the lower
lying yard, has been
gradually created by the digging of clay.
We can insert a map into this sequence published 1883-4 (containing
data collected 1881) which shows the area clearly labelled (captions
here enlarged and in red): 'Old Pottery' and 'Brick & Tile Works'.
Other features in red are those which still exist after the clearances
of the slum housing in The Potteries: Milner Street at top right
(which today has Kings Avenue at a right angle leading east), Back
Hamlet at bottom right and Holy Trinity Church nearby. The two tiny
specks of red above the caption 'Brick & Tile Works' each denote a
'Kiln'. Alexandra Park has yet to be created by the Borough and
parkland of Hill House is at right with contour lines showing the steep
scarp which at this time was still being dug for clay. At bottom right
are the gardens of Trinity Lodge, with Trinity Brickworks
(see below) dropping down a hundred yards or so to the south-east.
The Fisk family
[UPDATE 10.2.2021: 'Dear
I have been looking at my family history which includes the Fisk family
of Ipswich. Francis Fisk (my 3rd great grandfather) born 1789, died
1871 is recorded as being a brickmaker, who in 1841 lived in St Helens,
and 1861 is recorded as living in St Helens Street. His son, Francis
(1819-1903) is also recorded as being a bricklayer and plasterer and
brickmaker. In 1841 he lived in Potter Street; in 1851 43 Old
Brickyard; in 1861 Rushmere (Road?); in 1871 Spring Cottage, Spring
Road, employing 4 men; in 1881 38 Spring Road; in 1891 Cambridge
Villas, Spring Road and in 1901 536 Spring Road. The son of the first
Francis, my great grandfather (another Francis) left England in 1853 as
a 14 year old to come to New Zealand, where he must have had a very
hard life as a labourer/farmer in one of the most desolate areas of
Wellington. I guess brickmakers were not uncommon at that time in
Ipswich but I am wondering whether you have ever heard of this family
of brickmakers or whether you might be able to refer me to a place or
publication where I can find out more about them? Many thanks, Sheryl
Boshier, Wellington New Zealand.' Thanks
to Sheryl for the enquiry. Frank Grace in Rags and bones (see Reading list)
describes the way in which the Fisk family played a major part in the
story of The Potteries slums. Sheryl has ordered the book. If anyone
further information about the Fisks, please contact this website using
the 'Contact us' link at the foot of this page.]
Below: a 21st century aerial view of the Potteries area, now largely
occupied by Suffolk New College and University of Suffolk buildings.
The area marked 'Brickmakers Wood' is the treed area of the steep scarp
between Alexandra Park and the lane running between Milner Street and
Back Hamlet. The Brickmakers Wood project
(see Links) is run by the Eden-Rose Coppice
Trust was founded in 2007 with the purpose of providing a safe and
highly beneficial natural urban green space, with essential facilities,
for people with a life-limiting illness such as cancer and for the
development and skill acquisition of young people with disabilities.
This is a very positive development of a much neglected and abused
former industrial site. The site includes Romney
buildings (like large Nissen huts)
which were built by the War Ministry during the Second World War
house vehicles and supplies for the servicing of the barrage balloons
in the area.
Note just above the green rectangles of the all-weather,
five-a-side football pitches at the left the two Pylons
by Bernard Reynolds casting their shadows. They mark the original
entrance to the 1960 Civic College block designed by Birkin Haward,
which was demolished around 2008.
Below: the contemporary aerial view overlaid with the 1902 street map
(in red). In 1902, Hill House, home of the Byles family, stands in an
uncluttered area towards the eastern end of Back Hamlet – today, the
site of Hill House Road. Devonshire Road is not cut through and the
housing on either side of Grove Lane doesn't exist. However, dense
housing in the Potteries area crowds the left side of the image.
Today's Alexandra Park was originally
the parkland of Hill House. The scarp of Brickmakers Wood (see Links) which slopes
down from the western perimeter of the public park, was named after the
activities of clay-digging and brick and tile kilning which took place
in the immediate area. In digging the steep slopes, the Eden Rose
Coppice Trust volunteers confirm that they are, indeed, on thick London
See also our page on Potteries for
'Ipswich ware'; also Ropewalks for
another ancient industry in this part of Ipswich. Brickmakers Wood, a
new community project, now occupies the 'cliff' created by the
extraction of clay – now covered with trees. For a lettered bottle
fragment dug out of Brickmakers Wood in 2021, see our page on The Unicorn under Talbot Mineral Water.
2. Trinity Brickyard
Trinity Brickworks was between Fore Hamlet and Back Hamlet,
named after the adjacent Holy Trinity Church.
The site can be seen on a 1902
map of Plough Street and Cavendish
Street, off Fore Hamlet.
In 1874 John Morgan & Co. was producing chimney pots and drainpipes
for agricultural and sanitary puposes', as well as bricks in the yard,
which was taken over 1890 by Joseph Bird & Son, who had earlier
been coal merchants at Stoke Bridge. Bird owned it until 1910. Joseph
in Kelly's 1892 & 1896.
The website Old Bricks - history at
your feet (see Links) has a photograph
of one of their named bricks. This yard closed around 1910.
Ransomes Sims & Jefferies had premises erected in the brickearth
pit of the Trinity Brickworks which, after World War I, was used as the
firm's new lawnmower works. The White City, as this works became known,
turned out 790 aeroplanes for the
Royal Flying Corp before
3. There was
also a nearby brickyard where Myrtle
Road is now. Perhaps
significantly, there is a steep scarp leading up to Holywells Park
behind the terraced houses on the east side of Myrtle Road. This
resembles the scarp at The Potteries in St Helen's ('Brickmakers Wood')
so would almost certainly have been a source of clay-diggings.
4. The Grove &
5. The Dales
Another well-appointed brickworks was also the last to close
in the town, in 1958: Bolton's in The Dales (which we have seen
referred to as 'Dukes Brickworks'). This and The Grove
brickworks on the other side of Henley Road, which closed much
had been served by a railway branch from the East Suffolk Line near
Westerfield Junction. The parapet of the bridge which carried Henley
Road over the branch line can still be seen near Henley Grove – today
signed 'The Grove'.
[Information from Malster, R: Wharncliffe
companion to Ipswich see Links]
This detail from the Ipswich map 1930
shows the branch railway line which went under Henley Road and Dale
Hall Road, deep into The Dales workings – a quarried area which is
now a public park. By the date of this map the line was marked
'Disused', as was the
Grove works, but not so the 'Brick & Tile Works' in The Dales. By
that date the bricks would have been transported by road.
(Incidentally, some of the Victorian houses called 'Grove
Cottages' in The Grove, off Henley
Road, are brickmakers' cottages, presumably made from the products of
their own brickyard.) Another feature of note is Dale Hall, still
standing in 1930 left-of-centre on this detail, with the East Suffolk
Line trimming the edge of its gardens.
"It has been referred to as 'Ipswich's forgotten
railway'. Rail enthusiast David Barton of Sunningdale Avenue, Ipswich,
has sent information about the rail line, which took a route through
what is now mainly a residential area. The narrow gauge line linked to
the main East Suffolk line between Westerfield Road and Henley Road. It
served the Grove Brick Yard at Grove Farm at the end of the cul-de-sac
off Henley Road. Three cottages, which are still there today, were
built in 1880 for the employees. The manager of the site lived at
Boulder House which was where June Avenue is now.
The line carried the products of the works to be stacked for reloading
onto the main line. On the return journeys the train carried coal to
the kilns. The largest brick works was where Dales Road and the modern
roads around are now. The rail line passed under Henley Road where the
entrance to the sports club is today. One parapet of the bridge is
still beside the road. The line then passed under Dale Hall Lane and
through where Baronsdale Close is now.
The line then dropped down the hill to the brick works operated by
Rosher and Company until 1901 when it was taken over by Bolton and
Laughlin. The Grove Brickworks had closed a century ago, but the Dales
Brickworks, then trading as A. Bolton and Company, worked until 1959
when the last batch of bricks were fired.
& Laughlin's brickyard
I have not been able to find out exactly when the rail line stopped
working, but it seems it was soon after the First World War when driver
Joseph Patterson retired and after decades of work the locomotive was
probably in need of expensive work or replacement. This, combined with
the fact that brick works now had better access to Norwich Road, might
have brought the end of the rail line. It must have been an impressive
sight as the little locomotive puffed its way up the hill from the
works, to take the bricks to be loaded onto the main line trains.
There were several brick making sites in Ipswich. Most bricks for the
expanding town over the centuries were made in the town or surrounding
villages. Most of the houses built before the Second World War in and
around Ipswich were built with local bricks.
The sites not only made bricks. They also made roof tiles, chimney and
flower pots. Over two hundred years ago there was a kiln in St Helens
making chimney pots, tiles and bricks. The area of Ipswich where the
Suffolk College is now was known as 'The Potteries' because of work in
the area. Trinity Brickworks was between Fore Hamlet and Back Hamlet.
This works closed around 1910 and hangers were built by Ransomes Sims
and Jefferies in the pit and aircraft were built there for the Royal
Flying Corps. There were also brick works where Myrtle Road is now.
Also at the Orwell Brickyard at Hog Highland, now Cliff Quay beside the
River Orwell (see the
1930 photograph below) and between Woodbridge Road and Spring Road. In
the Victorian period there was also a brick works where the recreation
ground in Sherrington Road is today. The Valley Brickworks in Foxhall
Road also had it own railway sidings.
Other sites included Cemetery Road/Suffolk Road [see brickyrd no. 7,
below] and Spring Road. A reminder of this
lost trade is the public house 'The Brick Makers Arms' on the corner of
Howard Street. The clay for making the bricks and tiles was dug from
pits. Those now living around where the brick works once were will
often find that if they dig down a little in their gardens that they
are on heavy clay soil." [Extracts
from Kindred Spirits (see Links), David
Kindred's excellent local history and recollections resource.]
The Dales brickyard was operated until 1901 by F. Rosher &
Co., who also had lime works and a cement factory in Kent, and from
that year by Bolton & Laughlin. In 1959 the last batch of 40,000
hand-made bricks was fired at the end of that year and the brickyard
[UPDATE 26.5.2021: 'I’ve
really enjoyed reading your pages on the Dales Brickworks the last
couple of years. Our house backs onto what would have been the quarry
in the Dales Park. We have lived here for about 28
years and, while my parents
haven’t had quite the same enthusiasm, it’s always interested me that
the park I loved so much growing up had some history to it, and I
always hoped I’d find something cool in the garden. Today,
whilst gardening, we’ve turned up the brick in the attached photo,
we’re pretty sure it’s marked B&L although it’s pretty worn! This
would make sense in terms of the quarry as we found it at the top of
our garden close to the fence with the park. If you could perhaps shed
any light as to perhaps whether it is from that quarry I’d be really
pleased! If it is then we shall put it somewhere to display in the
garden. Lauren Page.' Many thanks to
Lauren for finding/sending this; the impressed letters 'B&L' in the
frog of the brick makes perfect sense as it relates to Dales
& Laughlin (mentioned above). We found a similar example on the ‘Old
Bricks – History at your feet’ website, see Links which provided the information below.]
image courtesy Lauren Page
'Bolton & Laughlin operated the Dales Brickworks on Dales
Road, Ipswich from 1901 to 1959. Kelly's
1912 edition records B & L at the Henley Road Brickworks, Ipswich.
Originally this works was accessed off Henley Road as the road leading
to the works had not been named, when it was it was named Dales Lane,
then Dales Road later. Kelly's
1916 & '25 editions now list the company as A. Bolton & Co.
Ltd. Dale Lane Brickworks, Henley Road, Ipswich. It appears from a web
article that this works was always locally known as Bolton &
Laughlin. The brickworks had originally opened in 1880 & is shown
on a 1881 map. Rosher & Co. are listed as owning this works in Kelly's 1892, '96 & 1900
editions until B & L took over in 1901. Info by Martyn Fretwell.'
[from the ‘Old
Bricks – History at your feet’ website]
2022 photographs courtesy
of Peter Sutcliffe
30.8.2022: 'We were rebuilding our garden wall in Gainsborough Road and
found bricks and copings marked B & L. Thanks to your excellent web
site we could identify where they were made. Our house was built in
1908. I have attached photos of the bricks. Regards, Peter Sutcliffe.'
to Peter for the excellent photographs showing a range of Bolton &
Laughlin bricks (operating from 1901 to 1959) in the Dales.
Above: the close-ups of the Bolton & Laughlin initials
(complete with ampersand), from the crisp on the coping to the
rough-and ready. After all it's going to be lost in a wall.
Jen Greatrex has supplied a fascinating article about the Dales brickyards,
published in 1981, particularly interesting given Jen's family
connection to the local industry and the Dales light railway – her
great great grandfather was driver Joseph Patterson.
Richard Adderson and Graham Kenworthy's
excellent book Ipswich to Saxmundham
(see Reading list) has useful information
about the light railways which served industries in the area. The 1928
map of the Westerfield Junction track layouts (below) clearly shows the
Great Eastern Railway running east-west with the stations and junction
to the east of the level crossing. Incidentally, the lines into the
station terminus closest to the Railway Hotel are serving Colonel
Tomline’s Felixstowe Dock &
Railway Company. The tracks here were
eventually lifted but that station building, weather-boarded and with a
characteristic roof, is now a private house beside the present
‘through’ station and reached by a curving, hedged drive from the road.
The small detail which interests us here is at the west where 'the
branch to the brickworks left the yard in the bottom left-hand corner,
but had been removed by the time the area was surveyed for this plan.'
The photograph caption reads: “Looking west over the level crossing in
1911, the photographer has captured a quiet morning in Westerfield
yard, although the crossing gates are open and the signal is cleared
for the passage of an up train. By the gate, a horse waits patiently
while its owner unloads coal from a railway wagon. At the far end of
the yard we obtain a rare glimpse of the line which served the Dales
Road brickworks, a mile or so distant, Another little-known industrial
line [the book also deals with the industrial branch serving industry
around the Hadleigh Road bridges, today site of the new ‘Bacon Curve’],
it was lifted in 1927 after some years of disuse.”
The close-up shows the light railway which served the brickyards
leaving the Westerfield Junction yard
to the left, just before the furthest wagon.
Geology and archaeology of the Dales
Beds at Ipswich
In the “Geology of the Country around Ipswich, Hadleigh, and
Felixstowe” Mr. Whitaker drew attention to the probable existence of
Oldhaven Beds at Ipswich. On p. 11 he gives particulars of a section in
Stoke brickyard. Below the London clay at this spot occurred fine buff
sand separated from the Clay by a thin pebble-bed containing fragments
of shells. The buff sand was doubtfully referred to the Oldhaven Beds,
while it was thought that the pebble-bed should also be included with
these rather than regarded as a basement-bed of the London Clay. Below
this doubtful Oldhaven sand occurred sands and mottled clays of the
Reading Series. It was shown in the memoir that this pebble-bed
occurred over a great part of this district with an outcrop along the
valleys of the Gipping and the Brett. As a rule it rests on sands
referred to the Reading Series, and is classed by Mr. Whitaker
sometimes as basement-bed of the London Clay and occasionally as
Recently in Ipswich I came across a very clear section of these beds in
one of the brickfields, and as they here show a rather unusual facies
it seems worth while to draw attention to the section, especially as
the beds contain many fossils at one spot. The section occurs on the
north side of Messrs. Bolton & Laughlin's brickfield between the
Norwich and Henley Roads. The brickfield is situated almost due north
of Brook's Hall, and about 100 yards south of the railway line, but
apparently at the time of the Geological Survey there was no brickfield
at this spot; the pebble-bed, however, was shown in another pit (which
still exists) a little further westward, and was included in the
basementbed of the London Clay by Mr. Whitaker."
By Henry Bassett. Geological Magazine (Decade IV) /
Volume 10 / Issue 10 / October 1903, pp 453-456 [http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=5041296]
One tangential feature of the Bolton &
was its use by archeologist and historian James Red Moir (1879-1945), who
lived nearby. His work on East Anglian pre-history included
investigating the bed of stones at the foot of the Red Crag sand
exposed in the brickyard workings. In 1910 he published his findings,
conjecturing that flints found at the base of the Suffolk Crag had been
shaped by early man. These included beak-like
flaked flints (eoliths) claimed, somewhat controversially, by Moir to
relate to the evolution of the Palaeolithic hand-axe. The
'sub-Crag' location suggested that humans able to make tools lived in
the Tertiary Period: over two million years ago. It is
now largely accepted by experts that Moir's eoliths were created
naturally and cannot be seen as evidence of early humans here. However,
Moir, and his colleagues appear to have been right about the timescale
of human occupation in East Anglia: finds at Happisburgh (pronounced
'Haysboro'), Norfolk lead
archaeologists to conclude that early humans lived there 800,000 to 1
million years ago… No doubt, the controversy will
continue. An information board 'Legends of Broom Hill'
was unveiled in May 2016 in front of the ancient 'Reid Moir Oak' on the
south east triangle of Broomhill Park at Westwood Avenue at the
junction of Valley Road which has information on James Reid Moir, Sir
Anthony Wingfield (1488-1552), the oak tree itself and Brooks Hall.
[UPDATE 2.8.2016: "I was just
reading about James Red Moir on your site. I worked, in the summer of
1991, in Ipswich Museum and Christchurch Mansion: a quite wonderful
job. In the museum's archaeology section, there is a large (but mostly
unseen by the general public) collection of James Red Moir's 'beaked
tools'. They were given the official title of 'Rostro Carinates', if
memory serves. To my (inexpert) eye, they looked natural, not worked –
anyone who lives round here and who has dug a garden over can attest to
the weird shapes flint can manifest itself. Best regards, Ian Luck." Many thanks to Ian for getting in touch.]
6. Orwell Brickyard (Hog Highland)
Above: the brickyard at Hog Highland with the River Orwell behind
(c.1900). The kilns with the tall chimney are seen at the rear. On the
river, one of the Great Eastern Railway paddle steamers arrives from
Harwich, heading for its berth near The Steamboat Tavern on the corner
of Felaw Street and New Cut West. The
Ransomes & Rapier Waterside Works on Griffin Wharf can be seen in
the left background.
courtesy Britain from above
The image above shows the the River Orwell below the lock from the
eastern bank with Stoke Bathing Place across the river at the right,
on the Stoke bank. The Orwell Brickyard is central, close to the quay
and to the left of the roof with the sign 'GABRIEL'S'. Britain from
Above (see Links) has a range
of aerial photographs of this brickworks.
7. Bloomfield Street Brickyard,
8. Howard Street
Above: within the Freehold Land Society's
estate another brickyard existed to the east of Bloomfield Street
shown on the 1883 map detail above. Areas on turn of the century maps
to the east of Bloomfield Street and its northerly extension, Howard
Street, are labelled 'Brick fields'. The north-south road to the right
of this detail is Britannia Road. Below:
the 1902 map shows the
empty space where the brickyard once
operated; note also the hatching along the south of Spring Road and the
north-east of Bloomfield Street indicating the fall in the land here
due to extraction of clay. Incidentally, the story of St John’s Children’s Home shown at the bottom
of these two maps is told on our More
schools page in relation to the California Boys School in Spring
The following passage is taken from Gooding, A.: History of Cowper Street, Ipswich
(see Reading list).
“Brickfields of California
In Lot No 7 [of the sale of the Cauldwell Hall Estate in 1848]
‘Rushmere Field’, which was located between Woodbridge Road and
Rushmere Road, it was highlighted that the field contained an abundant
supply of brickearth. As it happened the seam of brickearth was much
more extensive than was originally thought. It ran southwards along
Bloomfield Street towards
Kenneth Brown in his ‘Brief History of St John’s Parish, Ipswich’
(1999, p.25) notes that the ‘… brickfields were established by Edward
Gibbons in the triangle to the east of Howard
Street. These were
quickly worked out leaving a large pond which was later surrounded by
orchard and some houses in Spring Road [see the 1902 map above, showing
By the 1860s, two brickfields were established along the east side of
Bloomfield Street. These two were worked out by 1890. Edward Gibbons
established another brickfield on the south side of Foxhall Road ...’
This was the Valley Brickworks (see no. 6 below] and it was served by
rail. It was located where Bull Electric used to be, which has since
been demolished and a new housing estate built. The final brickfield
established at the turn of the century was back on the original site of
Rushmere Field. The bricks which were of a poorer quality were used for
the building of local houses including Reading and Jupiter Roads.
Evelyn Cobner (nee Watson) whose family lived in Jupiter Road when it
was first built and then at 901 Woodbridge Road could remember the pond
and playing amongst the bricks on the brickfield when she was a young
girl in the early years of the 20th century. The area eventually became
the Recreation Ground. In Bloomfield Street the workings became a
market garden before in the 1960s Starfield Close was built down in the
The Brickmakers Arms (now ‘The Brickies’) on Spring Road is the only
reminder of this industry in the area and its old Pubmaster sign shows
the techniques used in the making of bricks by hand.”
9. The Valley Brickyard, Foxhall
This article appeared in the Ipswich
Society Newsletter, October 2013.
"Ipswich's oldest settlement:
An evening walk on July 11 2013.
We met by the 'soldiers' gate' at Foxgrove Gardens dip, where Foxhall
Road crosses the shallow valley we would follow that evening. Brick
clays show that this valley was occupied by a 'lake' in prehistoric
times. Robert Carr owned a brickyard here, between Foxhall Road and the
Felixstowe railway to the south. It was here in 1902 that archaeologist
Nina Frances Layard*** discovered flint
Acheulian hand-axes of the
longest lived human technology, indeed one that transgressed several
hominid species. In 1903 she employed two brothers to find flints,
which they did plus finding fossil elephant bones and a tooth of a
rhinoceros. Brickmaking here was abandoned by the early 1920s and the
site is now covered by the houses of Celestion Drive and Bull Road
[Formerly the sites of Bull Electrics and Celestion louspeakers±].
Walking along Henslow Road we noted 'Henslow Terrace 1902' built of red
bricks, presumably from Carr's brickyard. A short diversion took us to
(modern-day) Churchill Avenue, where J.V. Todd excavated in the
brickearth at the former small-holding in 1957 and where I put down
boreholes in 1966 - neither found any hand-axes. Further along Henslow
Road a hand-axe was found in the garden of no.9 in 1942 – it is now in
Ipswich Museum. Excavations at the corner of Freehold Road and
Bloomfield Street were investigated by me in 1972 and by John Wymer in
1978 - again, no hand-axes were found.
Our last stop was at Starfield Close off Bloomfield Street. This was
the site of a brickyard in the early 1870s, but is now occupied by new
housing of 'imported' Oxford Clay bricks – what would Robert Powell,
brickmaker of Bloomfield Street (1870s) think of that? We finished the
meeting with thoughts on the lives of Ipswich people over 400,000 years
ago – the first Ipswich Society?
This fascinating perspective by geologist Bob Markham tells us
of Robert Carr's brickyard south of Foxhall Road and of Robert Powell's
brickyard to the east of Bloomfield Street, as described above.
The Foxhall Road yard was served by a railway spur running off
the Westerfield to Felixstowe line
near Derby Road station.
±The Valley Brickyard lay on the south
side of Foxhall Road, opposite the jaws of Henslow Road. It
is shown, and labelled on the 1902 map of Ipswich (shown above), with
indicating the areas of extraction. The factories of
Bull Motors Ltd (formerly the foundry E.R. & F. Turner) and
Celestion Loudspeakers are remembered in the street names Bull Lane and
Celestion Drive on the modern housing development here. British
Rola, which amalgamated with Celestion, made their loudpeakers at Ferry
Works, Summer Road, Thames Ditton (while Celestion originally made
theirs at the Kingston-upon-Thames factory). 'Ditton'
became a brand name and is recalled in Ditton Way. One assumes
that Prentice Way is named after an early manager or boss of the
(***Incidentally, the 2004 book Miss
Layard excavates: A Palaeolithic site at Foxhall Road, Ipswich,
1903-1905 by Mark J. White and Steven J. Plunkett is available
to borrow from Suffolk Libraries. George Miller
Chamberlain on Nina Frances Layard: "Who
was this woman? Without question, she was one of the most remarkable
English women to have lived. A great archaeologist, poet, botanist,
humanist, radical thinker, and champion of the underdog. A heroine, now
almost unknown outside Suffolk, unsung in the annals of English
history, and not to be found in Who's
Who? or other reference books of famous or significant figures.")
Above: an evocative photograph found in David Kindred and Bob
Malster's book Ipswich memories
(2001) showing brickmakers in the Valley Brickworks on Foxhall Road
with a large, walk-in kiln in the background and their wares stacked up
high at the left.
10. Cemetery Road/Suffolk Road
Above: spotted on an 1883 map of the Cemetery Road area, this
brickyard dug its clay from the rising ground leading up to the old
cemetery's higher levels. At the lower left is a 'Clay Pit', with some
evidence of extraction in the area around the three kilns. Suffolk Road
at this time was a short link to Norfolk Road; it was extended
westwards on the same line to meet what was to be Hervey Street.
Tuddenham Avenue (see our Off-licences
page) is a 1930s development heading uphill from the Norfolk
Road/Suffolk Road junction straight across the site of the brickyard.
As if to prove the point, a modern development off Suffolk Road is
called Kiln Close.
11. Broom Hill Brickyard
Norwich Road runs diagonally at lower left. The road running up to the
Broom Hill brickyard past Brookeshall Farm is today's Broom Hill Road. The Dales Brickyard (no.
5 on our list) lies north of this.
In 1884 the favoured
spelling of the nearby hall was "Brooke's Hall", named for one of the
ancient hamlets of Ipswich (Wykes Bishop, Wykes Ufford, Stoke and
Brookes, discussed on our Ransomes page).
Brooke's Hall§, a relatively modest-sized house, is set in
running down to Norwich Road which include two long ponds, fed by the
local springs. An old photograph of Norwich Road shows the long
roadside 'Brookeshall Pond' with its leafy backdrop. Brookeshall Farm
is to the north-west and Brookeshall Road runs at right-angles to
Norwich Road towards Bramford Lane. However, by 1884 we see the
appearance of the spelling with which we have become accustomed:
'Brookshall Villas' and 'Brook Terrace'. Today the road is 'Brooks Hall
At this time houses were known by name, rather than street
number, so we see each of the scattered houses individually named on
Also included, on Paget Road at lower right is 'Paget Villas' which
features on our Named buildings
page. See our Street name derivations
for Brooks Hall Road and below for the story of the dismantling of the
hall to be
reconstructed in Somerset.
See our Ruskin House page for a note
about the way in which house-numbering came about.
Hall and Captain Schreiber
Built in the 1700s and having a fine Queen Anne facade, four
reception rooms and six large bedrooms. The estate (which comprised
today's Broonmhill Park, Valley Road Norwich Road area) originally
belonged to Sir Anthony Wingfield
(c.1488-1552) who was a Knight of the Garter and Vice Chamberlain of
the royal household (see Wingfield Street on our Courts & yards page). He also
represented Suffolk in Parliament and was appointed High Sheriff of
Norfolk and Suffolk (1515-16). He was one of the most influential
knights in the court of King Henry VIII and at Henry's funeral
Wingfield was Captain of the Guard. The resident of Brookes Hall in the
1930s was Captain Arthur Thomas
Schreiber, who had been Chief Constable of Ipswich and in 1920
was awarded the OBE and Companion of Honour in 1920. He was a
descendant of several illustrious captains of the Irish Dragoons. He
was clearly a man up for a fight and in the 1930s he took
great exception to the plans to build an Ipswich by-pass adjacent to
his property – this was to become today's Valley Road. Having lost that
battle, in high dudgeon he commissioned an Ipswich builder to dismantle
Brookes Hall brick-by-brick and load it onto seventeen LNER railway
trucks. It was carried to Templecombe in Somerset and re-erected,
presumably on land already owned by Schreiber.
Dismantling historic buildings in Ipswich and shipping them off (often
to America) has a long history in Ipswich, however that was usually
done for filthy lucre rather than a fit of pique.
13. Over Stoke brickyard
The above map dates from 1867, however it was noted that an 1840 map
labelled the area to the east of the brickyard 'Brick Kiln Field'. This
field hugs the edges of Wherstead Road and Austin Street and doubled
the size of the brick workings here in 1840. The 'Brick Yard' is
bordered by the line of small terraced housing on the north side of
Station Street. In 1867 the road of railwaymen's cottages parallel to
Station Street was called 'Halbert Street' – an alternative spelling of
halberd: a two-handed pole weapon, see also The
Halberd in Northgate Street; Halbert Street was renamed Croft
Street after the vicar of nearby St Mary-At-Stoke Church.
Note also on this map: St Peter's Rectory
next to Brick Kiln Field, Ipswich Union
Workhouse on Great Whip Street/Felaw
Street, the Blue Coat School
between Tyler Street and Purplett Street,
Stoke Hall next to St Mary at Stoke Church, Stoke Rectory
the other side of Peter Bruff's 1846 EUR
railway tunnel through Stoke Hill, Stoke Bathing Place on the river at
lower right and Nova Scotia House below
it on the site of today's West Bank Terminal.
We have a page about a lettered
brick in a mixed brick wall in Ipswich...
also named bricks in a path at the Cobbold
A dedicated website, Old Bricks -
history at your feet, has been compiled for the history of brick
manufacture (see Links).
The Potteries and Ipswich Ware;
Ropewalks and the rope-making industry in
the east of the town;
County Hall page for information
maps relating to the County and Borough Gaols and The Potteries;
name plaque examples: Alston Road;
Cauldwell Hall Road; Cavendish Street; Marlborough Road; Rosehill area;
Ipswich & Suffolk Freehold Land
Society (F.L.S.); California
Street index; Origins of street names
in Ipswich; Streets named after slavery
Dated buildings list; Dated buildings examples;
Named (& sometimes dated) buildings
Street nameplate examples
See also the Suffolk Mills Group document on Windmills
in the Borough of Ipswich
(click to open the PDF).
Please email any comments and contributions by clicking here.
throughout the Ipswich
Historic Lettering site: Borin Van Loon
No reproduction of text or images without express