Nostalgia by Michael Eagleton
Early directories list Thomas Webb and then his son James Webb as brick makers in Marlow, east of the current Newtown Road in the area close to Westhorpe Road and near Kiln Croft Close. The section of an Ordnance map above dates from 1897.
This company appears to have been renamed, probably result of a takeover, the Burnham & Marlow Brick Company in the early 1900s, and the then “brickyard master” was Arthur Gibbons.
Clay was obtained from a pit which covered almost 250 square yards, eventually reaching 15 feet deep, but, soon after the 2nd World War the clay ran out becoming too sandy to use.
One of two large kilns was situated on the southeast of the site, and when clay excavation ceased this was pushed into the pit and covered over.
The other kiln, on the north of the site, survived a little longer. The County Museum also has a record of four engine-driven pug mills, used for clay mixing, at these works.
After becoming redundant the site was used for some years as a Marlow Urban District Council rubbish dump, but then Albert Gibbons, a member of the same family, moved his York Road scrap merchant’s business onto the same area.
Kiln Croft Close was built in the 1980s.
From the early days bricks of the traditional red colour were produced, but the business was especially famous for unusual and distinctive yellow bricks, and these were used for the fascias of many local buildings, some of which can still be seen, although the passing years have dulled their original shade.
Most notably All Saints Parish Church, the United Reform Church, the formerly titled “Doctor’s House” in the High Street, and a little further afield, the Corner House in Cookham High Street.
When the United Reform Church was extended in 2003 their architects went to great lengths to source similar bricks.
The late local historian and Police Sergeant, Arthur Boarder, had a fascination with brick makers, not just local but nationwide, and I have extracted some of the above from his extensive notes.
These include the fact that the Gibbons family had built and occupied Rose Cottages, Newtown Road, although I have not been able to verify a family of that name living there from any town directories of the period.
This property bears a plaque dating it as 1897. This could well be the distant building in my first picture above. Elsewhere in Arthur’s interesting folder other Marlow buildings are examined, including the former Market Hall, later the Crown Hotel, (picture, centre bottom.) Although seemingly of a similar colour, the fascia here is of stone rather than brick, but Marlow bricks were apparently used internally.
However, although not mentioned in Arthur’s notes, there was another brick kiln at Marlow Common, and the nearby clay pit was “bridged over” as one of the World War One troop training exercises, not far from the better known “trenches”.
Remains of the pit are still visible although less deep these days.
Next week: reviewing a new book with memories of old local bus services.
Contact Michael on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01628 486571