Wednesday, November 28, 2012

History Corner: Every Brick Tells a Story

On the Thames beach at Deptford there are various industrial archaeological fragments, each with their own history. Here are three bricks I came across recently.

This first brick is marked 'Glenboig'. The Glenboig Fire Clay Company was founded in 1865 in the central Scottish village. It had its own clay-mine as well as the factory which made the bricks. In 1901 clay miners staged a long and bitter 10 month strike; in 1909, four miners were killed in a roof fall. Glenboig bricks were exported all over the world, this one ending up on the shore of the Thames.

Thistle Bricks also came from Scotland, and were manufactured by John G Stein & Co. Its mine was in Castlecary.

A 1940 catalogue shows that Thistle bricks were designed for use at high temperature, such as in furnaces, and were composed of Silica, Alumina and Ferric Oxide.

The London Brick Company (LBC) was founded in 1900, not in London but at Fletton near Peterborough, where bricks continue to be made from 'Oxford clay' to this day. Brick production brought many Italian workers and their families to the area - in 1960, around 3,000 Italians were employed there by London Brick. 

So now you know, these bricks are not just random refuse. An experienced brick spotter would be able to date bricks such as these by changes in the lettering and fonts over time - not sure I have the time for that just now.


Andrew Simpson said...

Nice story, just love what you can find on beaches.

Alan Burkitt-Gray said...

100.11% content in that chemical analysis. That's clever. Glad to see that nutty statistics aren't just a 21st century thing.

Deptford Dame said...

I love the different colours, textures and wear that you get on the fragments of brick on our local 'beaches'. What with coloured glass and pottery it's like combing through a treasure trove!