“If you were working on that cutting table, there was no time to stop. You were continuously pushing, you were worked by that machine, you were part of a cog, the cog was turning and you were turning.”

If the clay was just right then the extrusion would be faster which was good for everyone as it meant more bricks and more pay at the end of the day. However, if you got out of rhythm with the machine for some reason then chaos followed. Several of the men talk of their early experiences as boys starting work for the first time. Straight from school they struggled to last a day. In their descriptions it was noisy, dirty (even ratty), and never-endingly hard. Those that had a vision found it easiest and the aim for many of them was the money they could earn. This would be for a bicycle in the early days, followed by a motor bike or car once they became available options.

The newly cut bricks were placed on barrows ready to be wheeled down to drying sheds. Each barrow carried 40 wet, or green, bricks weighing around 300ibs. The men had to run them down long corridors to the drying sheds and get back in time for the next load. Once dry the bricks were loaded into a continuous kiln to be burnt ready for market. Bursledon Bricks (marked: BBC) were primarily used locally but they did go all over the world.

With the help of a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant in 2012/13 the factory was turned into a museum and now has one of the largest collections of bricks and brickmaking artefacts. It is run by volunteers and is opened three days a week from April to October (too cold

in the winter months!) with special steam-up events once a month. The aim is to make it The National Museum of Bricks and Brickmaking in order to celebrate this rather forgotten part of our country’s history.

More details about the museum can be found on our website:

John Wood and Co engine 1912

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