Westoning Brick Works

Bedfordshire Times 18 August 1894 (Ref. 1)

(What follows is a copy of the actual article taken from the above newspaper)

The works, which was commenced on January 1st, 1893, are now approaching completion. In a very short time the enterprising firm of Messrs B. J. Forder & Son of Petersfield, Bracknell, Dunstable, London, &c, will be able to supply bricks, tiles &c &c of first class quality, not only to the neighbour hood at a cheaper rate than any other depot in the vicinity, but will also to larger builders in London, Derby, and other populous towns.

During the past 18 months the labouring class of Westoning, Harlington, Toddington, Barton, &c, have been busily employed on these works, so much so much so that in the former two villages wherein in years gone by a large number of cottages were tenantless now are all occupied and a dearth of houses is now complained of. Messrs Forder & Son have purchased the whole of the 128 acres of land belonging to Casius College Cambridge formerly farmed by Mr. C. Olney, but at the present time are only working three acres. Nearly one million bricks were made by hand last summer almost all of which have been utilized in the new buildings, The bricks will now be made by machinery.

The kilns are what are termed 'continuous', containing eleven chambers, each chamber capable of burning 25,000 bricks. The chimney attached, thereto, which may been seen distinctly for many miles around, is 112 feet in height of octagonal form, with the name of firm, B. J. Forder & Son, attached in enamelled letters. The machinery is of 40-horse power; steel boilers with 40 horse compressed engine. The most striking feature in the machinery is the novel way in which the firm purpose/propose working it. All the driving will be done by rope instead of belting. The whole of the machinery is of a very elaborate character and well worth the visit of scientific men. An immense number of bricks, tiles &c will be manufactured weekly so that large orders will receive prompt attention. The bricks will be dried by exhausted steam from the engine house, which is a wonderful improvement on the old system of drying. The works being adjacent to the main line of the Midland Railway, the firm will be able to complete with all similar firms in the kingdom, both for quality and quantity. This will certainly will be a great boon to builders in the neighbourhood, and there is not the least doubt a great number of orders will shortly be received. Of course, having every facility at hand the price of material is sure to be lower than elsewhere.

Great praise is due to Mr. Forder in establishing these works, as well as the lime works at Sundon. The labouring class in and around these places are already reaping the benefits of this gentleman's enterprise and there is not the least doubting a few years the village of Westoning w will gradually develop into a small manufacturing town.

Fortunately, Mr, Forder has an excellent coadjutor / conductor in the person of Mr. J. Phillips, who has most admirably and scientifically arranged and planned the whole undertaking. His task has been a most difficult one, especially when we consider he amount of raw material at his present command.

Mr. Phillips has had a great experience in similar undertakings and formerly was most successful at Mr. Forder's works at Bracknell in Berks. . It will be interesting to note that the bricks made from the clay on the works are of a bluff and white colour, beautiful in appearance, of immense strength, and from their impervious character and washable surface retains their colour in any atmosphere, They can be used for light reflection instead of white glazed bricks, and will be produced at a price to compare favourably with the famous buff bricks of Suffolk and elsewhere. Although similar to the celebrated Suffolk brick they surpass them in excellence in that they absorb the carbon contained in the atmosphere. This property of the Bedfordshire gault clay is of great value at as it proves that however injurious the action of the atmosphere may be on the stone and other building materials has no baneful affect upon the bricks manufactured from this excellent kind of clay. These bricks will receive such special care in the different stages of manufacture that they made be absolutely relied upon in first -class work. Their chief characteristics besides clean surfaces are shape and clean 'arrises' and will enable the bricklayer of ordinary skill to bed them very closely together and form the finest possible joint. These modern works are open for inspection and Mr. Phillips, the able and general manager, will be pleased to accompany and explain in all the intricacies in the manufacture to any who may be desirous of learning a little of the improved art of brick-making, &c.

******* Following on from the above account of the creation of the newly built brick works at Westoning in 1894 is that, in fact, the plant actually closed not so very long after in 1906. One of the reasons given for this decision is said to have been that the clay proved unsuitable but probably Forder's preferred to concentrate their future investment's in the brick making industry at their Fletton works at Elstow and Stewartby (Ref. 2)


1. Westoning Brick Works - Bedfordshire Times August 18 1894

2. Brick Making. A History and Gazetteer - Alan Cox Beds County Council 1979