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Research by Janet & John Meads, article by John

Burton Latimer Brickyard

Location of Brickyard 1886 in relation to the Dukes Arms. This is the only known map showing the brickyard.
Site of the brickyard on the 1886 Ordnance Survey map

In 1847, Lewis James of Isham, took out a lease on "One piece of land to be used as a brickyard only, in part of a field in the occupation of John Stokes lying near turnpike road to Higham Ferrers called The Home or Holme Close for fourteen years rent £20 per annum until 1850 then £40 thereafter ........."

The land belonged to Henry Richard Harpur and was in the occupation of his tenant John Stokes who farmed from Washpit Farm, which once occupied part of what is now Budgens supermarket site.

Furthermore, James undertook to "level the lands when exhausted of clay, laying the soil at the surface in a husbandlike manner so as to render the same fit for occupation for farming purposes, and drain the water from the hollows and put up all proper kilns, sheds and buildings for the carrying on of the trade of a brick and tile maker"

James surrendered his lease, and in March 1858, a new lease was drawn up between Henry R Harpur, his tenant John Stokes, and Frederick Pratt of Wilby and John Pratt of Wellingborough, both brickmakers. Similar terms were agreed with an option to purchase adjoining land if required.

However, within three years the Pratts had put the contents of the brickyard, with its fixtures and fittings, stock in trade, horse and cart, and household furniture from a house on the site, up for sale as can be seen on a poster advertising the sale. The sale was held on September 13 1860 and the lease surrendered on 12 October.

John Croxen, landlord of the nearby Dukes Arms Inn, may have been involved in the business for some time before the sale because he was described as "brick and tile maker" in trade directories starting in 1854, together with John Roddis. The Croxen family seems to have been involved until at least January 1878 when the freehold was offered for sale in an advertisement in the Wellingborough & Kettering News "in the occupation of Thomas Croxen".

The brickyard in 1902, by now nearing the end of its useful life.
Site of the brickyard on the 1902 Ordnance Survey map.
The High Street school, built in 1898, can also be seen on this map.

Who purchased the brickyard is unclear, but the next identified owner was the successful Burton Latimer businessman Charles Barlow who is named in trade directories as "brick and tile manufacturer" from 1898 until the First World War. The Barlows also owned brickyards in the surrounding area so it is perhaps not surprising that he would take the opportunity to provide local bricks for his rapidly growing home town.

Brick maker, brickyard labourer, brick setter, brick burner, flower­pot maker and brickworks machine feeder are occupations that appear in Burton Latimer censuses from 1851 to 1901 as well as in the parish records, but after about 1914 there is no mention of this trade leading me to believe that the business closed down about that time.

The brickyard site in 1928. Now worked out.
Site of the brickyard on the 1928 Ordnance Survey map.
The kilns and buildings have now gone leaving a deep pit as the only reminder of its existence.

East of the Infants School is Brickyard Row. Brickyard House and Brickyard Cottage are on the western boundary of the site.

Many of the workers lived nearby, and Brickyard Row, Brickyard House and Brickyard Cottage can all be found on the 1918 Electoral Roll; they were not demolished until the 1960s.

According to a 1857 inventory, the brickyard premises at that time consisted of two brick and stone built kilns and an adjoining shed, two drying sheds with lathe and other shelving and a complete pug mill.

The tiles and bricks were made by hand; probably the only mechanisation would have been the horse-powered pug mill. The pug mill consisted of an upright barrel in which a series of strong iron knives and teeth were caused to revolve by the power of a horse walking in a circular path, so as to cut and masticate the clay very thoroughly as it passed from the top of the barrel to an aperture provided for its removal at the bottom.

1860 Sale poster
Although production methods were primitive, output seems to have been substantial, for when the stock in trade was offered for sale in 1860 it included over 42,000 draining tiles of various sizes; 72,300 various type of bricks; 2,700 squares (floor tiles) and 2,700 pantiles.

Many a small boy (and I was one of them) can verify that the area was ideal for brick making, for the sides of the brook that ran through the field below the brickyard, known as Holland's in my day, were thick with clay and ideal for making dams. Hundreds of happy hours were spent playing in the brook building dams and getting thoroughly wet and dirty in the process.

Earlier, in 1906, a more serious childhood prank almost led to the death of a boy who got his head stuck in the pug mill and had to be rescued by his friends, (see transcription of newspaper report at the foot of this page)

The only reminders that the business ever existed are some of the red brick houses that line Burton Latimer's streets, and surviving outhouses with red pantiled roofs and walls with pantiled coping, many of which must have been built using products from the brickyard. The clay pit was used as butts for target practice by the Home Guard during WW2, later as a scrap yard but is now occupied by three houses off Hollands Drive and named Croxens Close.

The former brickyard in 1950 showing the smallholding that now occupies most of the site.
Aerial view from the SW in 1950. The eastern part of the former brickyard is a
smallholding where pigs are kept and the western part has been used for allotments

Now a scrapyard, with Latimer Close, Burton House and the school playing field.
Aerial view from the S.W. in 1971. Most of the former brickyard is now
used as a scrapyard. The allotments are still there but Brickyard Row
and the other houses associated with the site have gone, to be replaced
by the school playing field, Latimer Close and Burton House.

To see a movie of the site being used as a car scrapyard, click here
To view it correctly, you may need to download the Quicktime Player if you don't have it installed. If you have a dialup connection, the movie may take a little while to download.

Movie clip kindly loaned by Carol Desborough

Serious Accident at Burton

From the Kettering Leader May 26 1906

A serious accident befell a lad named Tarry whilst playing in the brickyard at the rear of Croxen's Yard, belonging to Mr. Barlow. The little lad, together with some of his playmates, had wandered into the premises, and coming across a pugmill, used for the purpose of tampering clay, this machine then became the object of their fascination. The machine is rather high, and is driven by a horse with a high shafting from the centre. To get into the machine the unfortunate lad must have been helped, for he is a cripple, and gets about on two crutches. The pugmill has not been used for several months owing to a good supply of bricks being in hand, and it is uncertain whether the machine was free from clay. Someone must have turned the shafting, and the lad Tarry got his head amongst the dull knives and had his scalp terribly crushed. His cries attracted his playmates, who rescued him from his perilous position. He was immediately attended by Dr. Harris, and at once sent to Kettering and District Hospital .

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