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The Brickworks of Wales - Monmouthshire
The Sirhowy Valley and other places
To Tredegar, Rhymney, Newport, Abergavenny and Chepstow
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The Round the World Brick Trip

I've tripped over dozens of bricks from the UK, India, New Zealand and elsewhere, have a look at them all
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The Sirhowy Valley

Quick links to :-     The Sirhowy Valley     The Rhymney Valley
    The Star Brick and Tile Co     Newport City     Rural Monmouthshire

Ynysddu - ST 1803 9172

The brickworks at Ynysddu was one of Christopher Pond's ventures, opened after 1901 and had been demolished by 1948, possibly closing with Wentloog Colliery. It was closely connected with Wentloog Colliery and both operations were for sale in 1924. There's lots of foundations of the kilns and the loading bank in the undergrowth and the site is littered with bricks, many mis-shapes and other brands as well. The brickworks was at the end of the tramway down from Wentloog Colliery and the colliery had a tipping dock to the East of it. The 'Ruby' brand is possibly named after Mr Pond's daughter or a clay seam but a more interesting rumour is that it was named after a lady friend of his.

Tredegar - SO 1435 0940

The Tredegar Iron Co was one of the very first ironworks in Monmouthshire and had its own brickworks up and running by 1877. Some time between 1900 and 1915 the old kilns were replaced a large rectangular kiln which itself seems to have been quickly rebuilt to a Hoffman-type kiln. This brickworks appears to be reduced in size in 1948 when the Tredegar Iron Co was nationalised into the NCB and the works closed in the 1960s. It appears that at some time it was owned (or produced bricks for) the British Anthracite Co (BAC), a company formed in 1946 to take over the non-mining activities of various collieries to avoid nationalisation.

Crown Brickworks

On 10th April 1874, a newspaper report names a Mr Thomas Davies of Crown Brickworks, Bedwellty and Tredegar, which may be this brickworks.

Sirhowy Ironworks - SO 1430 1010

A brickworks is shown on the 1879 OS map next to the blast furnaces but had gone by 1901. The advert of 1893 does not seem to have been successful.

Sirhowy - SO 1455 1000

A second brickworks appears on the scene by 1920, possibly open by 1911 and continued in production until the late-1960s. It was owned by the Ebbw Vale Co and many of the bricks made there were for use in the steelwoks only and had an ingredient that, on inspection would show it to be the property of RTB. This was intended to prevent or at least track down theft.

Tafarnau-bach - SO 1215 1040

There was a small brickworks here in 1875-80 but gone by 1901.


The Rhymney Valley

From Machen through Caerphilly to Rhymney

Quick links to :-     The Sirhowy Valley     The Rhymney Valley
    The Star Brick and Tile Co     Newport City     Rural Monmouthshire

Bovil, Machen - ST 2177 8912

John Brewer (1811 - 1888) lived at Bovil Farm, in Machen, between Caerphilly and Newport, where, in 1851, he was agent of the Rumney Railway before it was taken over in 1863 by the Brecon and Merthyr railway. He acquired the nearby Bovil Colliery and developed its adjacent brickworks, which seems to have been a 3-kiln operation, the remnants of which were obliterated by post-war housing development. In 1877, John Brewer and his son Samuel sold out to their partners, the Beddoe family, after which his name was presumably discontinued from the bricks in favour of 'Machen'. Brewer bricks have the same design of frog as some earlier Machen ones. The colliery closed in 1894 and the site is labelled 'disused' on the 1898 map.

Twyn-sych, Machen - ST 2065 8890

It's not labelled as a brickworks on the OS map but with one kiln in 1898 and two in 1915/20 it certainly appears to be there at the end of the tramway from the collieries at Coed Cefn-pwll-du. There are no kilns shown on the 1948 map. This is probably the works of the Machen Brick Co Ltd and then The Machen Brick, Stone, Lime and Coal Co. which was a colliery owner at 'Coedycefn, Machen' in 1908 with 7 men below ground and one surface worker.

Rudry - ST 1931 8728

Rudry Colliery was opened in the 1860s and owned by Nicholas and Johnson by 1878. By 1895 the Rudry Merthyr Steam and House Coal Colliery and Fire Brick Co Ltd was in receivership but the company was still managed by A Johnson. The colliery and brickworks appear to have closed about 1899 but the colliery was re-opened on and off until the 1930s. Nicholas and Johnson also owned Risca Brickworks at the Darren until the early 1890s.
Stephen Parry remembers this story about Rudry Brickworks "I was always told that a lorry load of bricks from there had overturned on the hill going up to the Maenllwyd. When they came back (some time later because of the weather) to retrieve them they found that the Church had assumed that they were 'available' and so taken them to start building the vicarage across the road! I don't know if this is true, but I would love to think it was!"

Wern-ddu, Caerphilly - ST 1677 8632

Wernddu brickworks wa built some time after 1875 as part of the Black Vein Colliery. The Caerphilly Coal Co was subject of a winding-up order in 28th November 1895 and became the Wernddu Brick and Coal Co. In February 1920 the brickworks were purchased by Powell Duffryn. The brickworks closed in 1951.

Furnace Blwm, Caerphilly - SO 1426 8524

Furnace Blwm brickworks was started after 1875 by Morgan and Jones but they defaulted on their lease in 1886. Thomas Rees of Merthyr Vale re-started the works in 1890 and was advertising for a 'bricksetter in 1892. On the 1898 map the brickworks is shown as disused. Some of Rees' bricks have 'Caerphilly' on the reverse and some are unmarked (perhaps the ones with Caerphilly on the front). The site later became the Blackbrook Colliery.

Hengoed - ST 1430 9595

The Cambrian Brick and Stone Co Ltd was registered in 1913 becoming the Hengoed Coal, Brick and Stone Co Ltd in 1919. The company went into receivership in 1921, stopped work in 1924 and was dissolved in 1929. There was a Hengoed Coal and Quarry Co in the late 1920s which may have been connected too. The works is shown on the 1916 and 1938 maps but gone by 1948.

Maesycwmmer - ST 1614 9474

Maesycwmmer Brickworks seems to have been short-lived, being only shown on the 1916 OS map. By 1938 the site at the end of the tramway from one of the Gellideg Collieries was empty. The works were owned by Edward Harvey, who also used his initials 'EH' on bricks. Bricks marked 'HARV' may also be from Maesycwmmer Brickworks. The imprint 'Gellydeg Brick Works' was also used but I've not seen one.

New Tredegar - SO 1445 0286

A block of 5 kilns are shown on the 1898 OS map close to West Elliot Colliery

Twyn-carno, Rhymney - SO 1085 0825

Quite a long-lived brick and tile works was at work from before 1875 to 1938 but had disappeared by 1948. In 1901 it was reported that, after some years out-of-use, the kilns would be re-started.


The 'Star' brickworks empire

The Star Brick and Tile Co Ltd - a brickmaking empire

Quick links to :-     The Sirhowy Valley     The Rhymney Valley
    The Star Brick and Tile Co     Newport City     Rural Monmouthshire

A brief History

The Star Brick and Tile Co Ltd began life in 1881 at Llantarnam Road, Cwmbran and by the end of the 1930s the new site at Penrhos, Caerleon had been built and they had acquired Russells brickworks, Waunfawr, Risca and the Allt-yr-yn brickworks in Newport. Tunnadine's brickworks, Malpas Road, Newport and Graig brickworks, Morriston, Swansea had joined the empire in the late 1950s. They had also acquired the Jones' Risca brickworks but only to close it as they had a better site in Risca at Waunfawr.

Meanwhile in England, Neal and Co. Ltd were producing bricks at Heather, Leics and by 1903 they had changed the company name to the National Brick Co. Seemingly in the 1950s they amalgamated with the Star Brick and Tile Co. Ltd to form the National Star Co. In 1971 the National Star Co was acquired by Butterley Brick / Hanson Plc 1973 seems to be the end of the Star Brick and Tile Co, although National Star Ltd, Newport continues to be mentioned up until 1978.

Towards the end of the Star group in the 1960-70s, bricks were being produced with the generic die "National Star Newport" and small letters to the lower left or right of the stamp to indicate the works of origin. The letter "G" denoted bricks from the Graig Brickworks in Morriston, Swansea, "RC" for Waunfawr, Risca, "L" for Llantarnam, Cwmbran, "M" for Malpas, Newport and "C" for Caerleon which had become the group's HQ on the present day Star Trading Estate.

Not surprisingly, there are a great many variations of empire's imprints and these are just the 'STAR' varieties that I know about up to now.

'STAR'

... though other 'Star' brick companies are available as they say but I believe types 1-5 are from the 'Empire', not sure about type 6.

'Star Brick Co'

...just a couple more words on theirs bricks.

'Star Brick Co Newport Mon'

...getting really descriptive now.

'Star Caerleon'

... from the Penrhos works, Ponthir.

'Star Cwmbran'
'STAR ENG'
'Gower a STAR product'

... 'Star Cwmbran' is from the Llantarnam works, not sure of the origins of 'STAR ENG' and I would assume that 'Gower a STAR product' is from Morriston, being the closest to the Gower.

'Star Newport'

... You pay your money and take your pick, but probably Malpas rather that Allt-yr-yn

'National Star Newport'

A generic imprint sometimes with 'secret' small letters to the lower left or right of the stamp to indicate the works of origin. The letter "G" denoted bricks from the Graig Brickworks in Morriston, Swansea, "RC" for Waunfawr, Risca, "L" for Llantarnam, Cwmbran, "M" for Malpas, Newport and "C" for Caerleon.


Newport City

The City of Newport and its Suburbs

Quick links to :-     The Sirhowy Valley     The Rhymney Valley
    The Star Brick and Tile Co     Newport City     Rural Monmouthshire

Allt-yr-yn, Newport - ST 2900 8861

Unfortunately the Allt-yr-yn brickworks site has been completely cleared but here are some notes on its history :-
Kelly’s for 1895 lists the 'Alteryn Brick Co; works Alteryn, Newport'. In the 1906 Kelly’s, it had become the “Alteryn Brick, Tile & Terracotta Co Ltd” and the Directory of Quarries (DOQ) for 1937 and 1941-2 lists the 'New Alteryn Brick Co, Alteryn, Newport', the last reference to this company. Post war, it was absorbed into the Star Brick & Tile empire. According to the 'Star' records it was previously Davies and Co, acquired c1931. The London Gazette records that the 'New Alteryn Company' was put into voluntary liquidation in 1931, presumably as a result of the acquisition of the works by the Star Group. I assume that, in 'Star' days, their bricks were just stamped 'Star Newport' and its variations.

Barnardtown, Newport - ST 3155 8885

The home of the 'Newport Patent Brick Works' in Barnardtown (or 'East Usk') was in existence by 1883 but had been built over by 1920.

Barnardtown, Newport - ST 3205 8855

Another brickworks is shown in Barnardtown near the present-day Manchester Street by 1883 but this too had been built over, by 1901, perhaps using its own bricks !

Bishpool, Newport - ST 3438 8844

There was a 'Bishpool' brick in our garden in Morden Road, Newport, built in 1897. I'd not heard of this brickworks so... This obscure brickworks, the Bishpool Brick & Tile Co Ltd, seems to have started up in the mid 1880s and was liquidated in 1909. It seems to have missed all the OS maps but on the 1920 map there is an 'old clay pit' marked beside what is now 'Ringwood Hill' which could just be the site of this brickworks.

A report in the London Gazette, 3 November 1905, issue:27850, pages:7372-3 says :-
To be sold, pursuant to an Order of the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, made in an action in the matter of the Bishpool Brick and Tile Company Limited, STONE v. THE COMPANY, 1904 B. 2721, with the approbation of Mr. Justice Far well, the Judge to whom this action is assigned, by Mr. Charles Edward Parsons (the person appointed by the said Judge), at the King's Head Hotel, Newport, in the county of Monmouth, on Wednesday, the 29th day of November, 1905, at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, in one lot:— The valuable leasehold land, building, and works, known as tbe Bishpool Brickworks, situate at Bishpool, within a short distance of the town of Newport, Monmouth aforesaid, together with the valuable fixed and loose plant and machinery and stock, also the goodwill (if any) of the business heretofore carried on by the Bishpool Brick and Tile Company Limited. Plans, particulars, and conditions of sale may be obtained gratis of Messrs. Minet, Harvie, May, and Co., of 4, King William-street, London, E.C, Solicitors; and of Messrs. C E Parsons and Jolliffe.of Central-chambers, Newport, Monmouth, the Auctioneers, and at the place of sale.—Dated this 1st day of November, 1905. 089 SPENCER WHITEHEAD, Master.

Crindau, Newport - ST 3125 8945

Albany Street Brick Works is shown on the 1899 OS map North of Alderney Street but has disappeared by the 1917 edition.

Dos Nail Works, Newport - ST 3095 8880

A pair of kilns is shown on the 1883 OS map at the back of the Dos Nail Works. They are not shown on the 1901 map.

Liswerry, Newport - ST 3385 8765

In 1871 the Aberthaw Lime, Cement and Brickworks, Liswerry. were for sale as a going concern but in 1883 the OS map shows 'old brickkilns' and they had gone by 1901.

Malpas, Newport - ST 3060 8980

Henry Tunnadine of the Malpas Road Brick Works, Newport. Thomas Tunnadine appears in the 1871 Kelly's Directory as making bricks at the Waterloo Brick Works, Pillgwenlly, Newport. In 1875, Worrall's Directory of South Wales lists the same manufacturer at the Waterloo works. The 1884 Kelly's lists both Thomas at Pillgwenlly, and Henry Tunnadine at the Malpas Road works. By the 1891 Kelly's, Thomas Tunnadine has disappeared. Henry Tunnadine appeared in the 1906 Kelly's, but is absent by the 1926 edition which now lists the Star Brick & Tile Co at Cwmbran, Newport and Caerleon. It is known that the Malpas Road works was absorbed into the Star Brick & Tile Group, and its bricks were distinguished from the subsequent generic "National Star Newport" die of the 1960s by an unobtrusive letter "M" to one side. It was shown as disused on the 1968 map.

Maindee, Newport - ST 3240 8805

Another 1883 brickkiln that had gone by 1901. However the adjacent pottery is by then labelled 'Alexandra Pottery' so it would appear to have transferred here from Pill. The pottery survived until 1937.

Malpas Court, Newport - ST 2955 9130

This brickworks was surveyed in the 1872-78 and 1899 OS surveys but is not marked as a brickworks on the 1917 survey. It may well be connected with Malpas Court itself, earlier owned by Thomas Protheroe, a prominent Monmouthshire coalowner.

Pill, Newport - ST 3130 8640

Thomas Tunnadine appears in the 1871 Kelly's Directory as making bricks at the Waterloo Brick Works, Pillgwenlly, Newport but appears to have ceased business by 1891. The maps of 1883/4 show brick kilns at the Alexandra Pottery. Kilns and pottery had gone by 1901.

Rhiwderin, Newport - ST 2630 8785

The 1882 OS map shows 'old brick kilns' and 'old claypits' here. The brick kiln doesn't appear again but the clay pits are still there.

St Julians, Newport - ST 3180 9000

St Julians brickworks was operating and supplying bricks by the 1870s on a site close to the riverbank but moved a few hundred yards by 1899. Kelly’s for 1881 has an entry for 'G Howard, St Julian’s, Christchurch, Newport' which may be connected. Kelly’s of 1895 has 'St Julians Brick & Tile Co, Newport'. The last entry held is in Kelly’s for 1926. An newspaper reports on 28th July 1892 that a new engine house and kilns contract had been signed with J T Morris.
Chris Jones supplied the excellent drawing of the brickworks and says "My grandfathers name, Jack Jones, is next to the cottage he lived in on Brickyard Road."


Rural Monmouthshire

Between the River Usk and the River Wye

Quick links to :-     The Sirhowy Valley     The Rhymney Valley
    The Star Brick and Tile Co     Newport City     Rural Monmouthshire

Crowfield, Abergavenny - SO 3255 1620

The 'Crowfield Brick Works' is also shown on the 1881 OS map but to the South of Ysgyryd Fawr. It was shown as 'disused' in 1920.

Penpergwm, Abergavenny - SO 3290 1025

A 'Brick Works' is also shown on the 1881 OS map but only shows 'Brickyard Cottage' by 1901.

Skirrid, Abergavenny - SO 3140 1430

The 'Skirrid Brick Works' is shown on the 1881 OS map to the North of Ysgyryd Fach but it's gone by 1901.

A little bit of history from Guy Rogers :- "My grandmas' birth place was at Dingestow and the roof tiles on the barn were all marked on the back with the name of the farm. When I asked why and how, I was told that at least 4 teams of horse drawn wagons brought the clay and mobile furnaces and a team of men would fire the clay to make the bricks and roof tiles for you, I'm sure she said that they were local company"

Govilon - SO 2602 1351

A brick kiln is shown only on the 1881 OS map next to Wilden Wireworks.

Usk - SO 3805 0150

Shown as a brick and tile works in 1882 and the 'Castle Brick and Tile Works' in 1901, by 1920 it was disused. Mr Day was the proprietor. The brick is on display at the Usk Rural History Museum.

Raglan - SO 4063 0690

Raglan brickworks first appears on the 1882 OS map but had disappeared by the 1920 edition, apparently owned by John Jones, Raglan's chemist and grocer, 1815 - 1887, and his son Edward, 1842 - 1900. The brick is on display at the Usk Rural History Museum.

Monmouth - SO 5140 1245

Monmouth Brick and Lime Works first appears on the 1881 OS map on the left side of the road to Wyesham village. The clay pits were to the Southeast and linked by a tramway, possibly a branch of the Monmouth Railway, the original tramroad to Coleford, open from 1812 - 1870s. By 1901 it is on the right of the road and further South. Also in 1901, "Mayhill Wharf, house and outbuildings including brick & lime works" were part of a sale of the Duke of Beaufort's estate. It is not shown on the 1920 edition.

Sudbrook - ST 5015 8748

A brickworks was established at Sudbrook for the construction of the Severn Tunnel between 1872 and 1887 at the 5m 4ch mark which seems to be at the West end of the village by the pumping station there. The number of bricks used in the construction of the tunnel was 76,400,100. The quantities from each supplier were :-
19,125,440 from the Cattybrook Brickworks
7,229,100 from the Fishponds Brickworks
21,944,460 from seven suppliers in Staffordshire
28,101,100 made onsite at 5 miles 4 chains.

Chepstow

There are records of a 17th century brickworks at The Meads, Chepstow. Also on the far side of the River Wye, Elmvale Brickyard existed in 1879 at ST 5336 9434 as did Talland's Marsh Brickworks at ST 5402 9345 from 1879 to 1900.

Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

A great many people have supplied information and photos of Monmouthshire's brickworks and their bricks, so many thanks to (alphabetically) Graham Bennett, Ian Cooke, Steve Davies, Andrew Harvard, Tracey Hucker, Christopher Jones, Mike Kilner, Norman Lowe, Stephen Parry, Richard Paterson, Ian Pickford, Dave Sallery, Lawrence Skuse, Mike Stokes, Gareth Thomas, www.tredegar.co.uk,

The Great Western Archive for details of Sudbrook :- The Severn Tunnel

The Brocross/Penmorfa website is the best source of info on bricks and brickworks in the UK :- Old Bricks - history at your feet

For very good coverage of Scottish bricks and quite a bit about other places too :- Scottishbrickhistory.co.uk

There is a specialist society for brick history :- britishbricksoc.co.uk

There's also a 'Facebook' group for bricks and brickworks :- 'Bricks and Brickworks Past'


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