on the button Issue 38 - Page 6

the brick works In the nineteenth century Arlesey was to become one of the largest brick making centres in Bedfordshire, and was important to the boom in building all over the country. Here is Part 2 of our feature on the brickworks– Making millions! Robert Beart, born in 1801, from a farming family in Welney, Isle of Ely, had formed a company in Godmanchester making clay tiles and bricks. His bricks were made with an array of twenty four holes, in three rows of eight. This gave the bricks a quicker drying time and a more even firing. His successful business produced around 60,000 bricks a week at the factory, employing six men and four boys. It brought him notoriety and wealth. He was voted mayor of Godmanchester six times. But he needed to be closer to London where he saw massive opportunity. This would come with the installation of the Great Northern Railway, which opened in 1850, from London to Leeds. In 1852 he moved his operation to Arlesey, approximately 30 miles south of Godmanchester, and with improved machinery he created ‘an immense works’ to take advantage of the villages proximity to the capital. The business was called The Arlesey Brick Company. At this time there were brickworks here but none on the scale that Beart was to introduce. Langford N A1 London & Arlesey Brick Company, Langford Great Northern Railway Beart’s Patent Brickworks River Hiz Arlesey Station Kiln at Gault Brickworks Astwick Road, Stotfold A5 07 Arlesey Stotfold Arlesey Brick and Lime Co. Ltd. Riv A1 er Ive l Three Counties Hospital Great Northern Brick Co. (inc. William Dennis’ Brickworks) 3 miles 0 5km 0 Redrawn from a map by T. P. Smith The figure above shows the brickyards in and around Arlesey. Those still working in 1900 • Beart’s Patent Brickworks • Arlesey Station Gault Brickworks • London & Arlesey Brick Company, Langford • Brick and tile works south of Caldecote Road, Stotfold Brickyards closed before 1900 • Great Northern Brick Co. (incorporating G7 William Dennis’ Brickworks) • Arlesey Brick and Lime Co. Ltd. • Kiln at Astwick Road, Stotfold Others • Three Counties Hospital  6 | October 2015 | The site had an abundance of yellow gault clay was used in the making of Arlesey Whites. It was said to be possible the brickworks here could produce 320,000 bricks, but an actual figure in 1858, was 160,000 per week. Beart had also modified production in Arlesey changing to three rows of seven holes. The Arlesey Brick Company changed its name several times in the following years. Robert Beart died in 1873 at the age of 72, but his legacy carried on. Arlesey Whites would be used for the construction of the new Asylum called Three Counties, on land to the east of Arlesey High Street. The quantity being produced was soon to be insufficient and so a small brickworks was established on-site at the Asylum to make up the shortfall. 1.3 million bricks would be used in the construction. Beartʼs Company around 1885 founded the Arlesey Brick Company. It was situated near Arlesey Sidings at the southern end of the village. The Sidings were to become the Three Counties Station with the construction of the mental asylum (now Fairfield Park). There were in fact three separate brickworks near the Sidings, BJH Forders being another. They eventually all amalgamated in 1900 with the London Brick Company and the future industry of brick making in Arlesey as a major employer was set. The former Great Northern Brickworks clay hole was filled with rubbish carried by the railway from London. The current business park buildings are in fact sited roughly on top of this pit. Arlesey had six brickworks. Four being t