Vanished Industries - Brickworks and Mills

Photo:Star Lane today

Star Lane today

Photo:Stambridge Mill today

Stambridge Mill today

Photo:Battlesbridge Mill today

Battlesbridge Mill today

Photo:Ballards Gore - from bricks to golf

Ballards Gore - from bricks to golf

By Sue Horncastle

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It is amazing to think that within living memory the work-places pictured here were thriving industries employing many people.

There were brickfields at Star Lane, Great Wakering; Cherry Orchard Lane, Stroud Green; Purdy's Farm, Rochford and Ballards Gore, Great Stambridge. All took advantage of the plentiful London clay lying just under the surface to provide the much needed bricks required for the rapid expansion of housing between the World Wars and until 30 or 40 years ago.

All are now derelict or redeveloped. Did you, or someone you know, work at any of those sites? Have you got photos or memories you can share with us on this page of the Archive?

The tide mills at Rawreth and Stambridge were first built hundreds of years ago to take advantage of the fast flowing rivers Crouch and Roach at their tidal and navigable limits. Both were still functioning until relatively recently. Originally built to mill locally grown corn for flour, in later years they produced animal feedstuffs from beans and barley.

The mill on the southside of the Crouch at Battlesbridge has been demolished but that on the north bank still gives a good idea of how it looked. The Stambridge mill was functioning more recently until a fire made it unviable.

Have you, or someone you know, got any photographs of the Rawreth mill? Maybe you have memories of the Thames barges bringing the corn and other produce to be milled at both Stambridge and Rawreth? Maybe you even worked in this industry?

See also this article on the site.

This page was added by Sue Horncastle on 27/01/2011.
Comments about this page (Add a comment about this page)

I am glad you found it of interest Emma.

I agree it is highly likely that the waste material was dumped on this site as it was derelict for many years.

Since I posted the information below the only further information I have found is that in 1954 Hawkwell Brickfields Ltd. gave their address as Rectory Road Rochford and had the phone number of Rochford 56543.

As to the WW2 AA gun pit on the site it is possible that this is actually the base of a pug mill and part of the former brickworks? Just such a structure was recorded in Hawkwell in 1970, but its exact location is not known to me, it could well be on this site. It is mentioned in ‘Essex and the Industrial Revolution’ by John Booker (1974) but I have never been able to find out any more information about it.

I will go and have a look at this structure later in the year when it is a bit dryer underfoot!

B Meldon

By B. Meldon
On 22/02/2014

The information about Magnolia Brickworks is brilliant. I often walk through there- on many occasions have found 1940s-50s era glass bottles and crockery, and wondered why it was there. It is easily found in the wooded area where badgers have been digging. I wondered if it was perhaps where they had filled in the old clay pits with rubbish?

There is also what seems to be an old WW2 AA gun pit in there- although I am no expert! 

It would be great to see any old photos of the Magnolia Brickworks.

By Emma
On 13/02/2014

Sorry it is a bit late to reply to Len Bickford’s post about the former brickworks at Magnolia Road just off Rectory road (Ed. see post below dated 18/06/2012).

The company here was called Hawkwell Brickfields Limited. It was first registered on 8th June 1937 with an address of 59 High Street, Grays Essex.

It would appear that the brickworks was established in the fields north of what is now Magnolia Road in 1939. (It was named to York Road  in 1939 and York Road (West) by 1955.)

(The O/S grid reference for the brickworks is: TQ861922)

When the map opens up remove the blue background by clicking the icon in the top right corner that says "Switch Print Extent Off". It may thereafter be possible to magnify the map one level by clicking the + arrow on the left. If you go too far then click the - arrow (RDCA-Admin).

Here is a link to the 1939 O/S map:

The 1955 O/S map:

and here is the 1961 map where it is listed as disused:

There was a 2 foot gauge railway in use on the site. Originally it was hand or possibly horse worked but a second hand 16/20 hp Ruston diesel locomotive was supplied to the company by ME Engineering in 1954. However loco haulage was later dispensed with. Today there is a two foot gauge V skip wagon on a plinth in the park. But this wagon did not originate from the site.

The brickworks closed in 1960/61. Procedures to wind up the company were started and liquidator, Hartley Keen & Co. of Southend, was appointed on 23rd November 1962.

Liquidators Report was issued to the board on 5th April 1963. 

By B Meldon
On 25/11/2013

Hi Linda Great to get your comment. Do you have any stories or pictures from your grandfather's time at Gt. Wakering? Sue

By Sue Horncastle
On 13/10/2013

Our family lived near the Anne Bolyne at Rochford. My late grandfather and 3 of his brothers all worked at the brickfields at Wakering.

By Linda Collins
On 13/10/2013

Again using the O/S maps the brickworks at Star Lane Great Wakering dates from 1938 or 1939.

When the map opens up remove the blue background by clicking the icon in the top right corner that says "Switch Print Extent Off". It may thereafter be possible to magnify the map one level by clicking the + arrow on the left. If you go too far then click the - arrow (RDCA-Admin).

It is not on the 1938 map:

But it is on the 1939 map:

The last surviving support for the old aerial cableway shown on the map used for transporting the clay in buckets from the deep pits at the back of the works was still in place in use as a lamp post next to the entrance of the brickworks until the site was cleared.

By B Meldon
On 04/09/2013

The old O/S maps are a good source of historical information. Most areas are available to view on-line at Anyway here are the maps for the Cherry Orchard Lane brickworks that was established on the field at the back of Slough House. I do hope these links work on this website: First the 1874 map showing no brickworks at all and no brickwork cottages.

When the map opens up remove the blue background by clicking the icon in the top right corner that says "Switch Print Extent Off". It may thereafter be possible to magnify the map one level by clicking the + arrow on the left. If you go too far then click the - arrow (RDCA-Admin).

Next the 1897 map again no brickworks and no brickwork cottages.

Now the 1923/24 map: The location of the brickworks is now shown for the first time as are the cottages:

Next the 1938/39 map with more detail of the brickworks buildings:

The 1955 map the last showing Slough House standing:

The 1960/62 map. Slough House has been demolished:

So from these maps the brickworks and the cottages in Cherry Orchard Lane date from between 1897 and 1922.

By B Meldon
On 04/09/2013

i used to live in the brick work cottages, cherry orchard lane, and all i know is the cottages were built approx 1860 - 1880 then about 45 years ago the kitchens were added on followed and 35 years ago they added the bathrooms. These houses were used as tied cottages for the brick workers and were low rent. I lived there when they built the main road and i had the job of liasing between the residents and builders

By Tracy Jarvis
On 22/10/2012

I was recently talking with Eric Mead who as a child lived in the cottages now known as Mayfair cottages in Gore Road. He recalls his father working at the brickworks and often used to go out to play "over the stones".

This was a big pile of stones which was the waste from the washing and refining process used when the clay dug from the pits which now form the water hazards on the golf course.

By Brian Pettitt
On 30/08/2012

Sue - In talking to Eric Purkiss he advised that the Ballards Gore Brickworks was known as Cater's Brickworks. I have yet to discover anything else about it but when I get to talk to Eric again I will see what else I can uncover. Note: this comment has been republished and now displays out of normal date order amongst the other comments on the page

By Brian Pettitt
On 24/03/2011

There was also an old brickworks situated at the back of the old Magnolia Works in Magnolia Rd. I believe there is now a large housing estate built over it. I used to play there and fish in some of the old workings that were filled with water. I later went on to work at Magnolia's and used to eat my lunch by the side of the water.

By Len Bickford
On 18/06/2012

Sadie, I suggest you look on line at a Census, to see who was living in your house at that time. The Census were held every 10 years from the middle of the 19thC except in wartime. It will also show their occupation. I think the cottages where you live were for the brickfield workers but it is worth checking.

By Sue Horncastle
On 23/02/2012

hi can anyone tell me anything about brickfield cottages cherry orchard lane and the brickworks behind, i only know the houses were used for the workers, i live in one of the houses and would love to know the history.

By Sadie
On 05/12/2011

After talking to Brian Pettitt in the Shepherd and Dog this evening (5/10/2011) he told me about this website. My Grandfather, Walter Page, b. 1884, worked at the Star Lane Brickfield when he left school aged 12, so in 1897. He lived at "The Old Blacksmiths", now known as The Angel pub, at Parsons Corner, North Shoebury. He probably worked there until he joined the Royal Marines in 1914.

By John Chapman
On 06/10/2011
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