Written history still only half baked

If you keep your eyes open when you are out and about you can see lots of references to the historic brick industry in the Black Country.  The names of local streets, parks and buildings (like this pub in Brierley Hill) pay homage to an industry which has been a big part of the area’s development but has now shrunk to a small remnant of its former size.  In fact, while iron and coal are remembered as the headline industries of the Black Country, brick making does not seem to have been given the place in history it deserves.  You could argue that in this case more than most the history books are yet to catch up with the stories surviving in the landscape.

‘Blue Bricks’ are in fact typical of the area and turn up in lots of important local structures (canals and railways used them in their millions).  But you can also find them in every-day places.  The Blue Brick used in the exhibition The Black Country in Ten Objects for example was dug from a flower bed in the back garden of an ordinary Victorian terrace in Smethwick.  It bears the name of ‘Hamblet’, an important local brick maker until the First World War.  The clay (or ‘marl’) used to make it probably came from the pit connected to Hamblet’s works in West Bromwich (see map) which is now suitably part of Marl Hole Park.

> The location of Marl Hole Park in Google Maps.
> Read how the other objects in the exhibition have a link to the Black Country landscape here.
> Subscribe (where it says ‘Receive Updates’ on the right of this page) and be notified of posts on the other objects;

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One response to “Written history still only half baked

  1. Whilst many brickworks will have produced for the construction industry there is of course the more specialised area of bricks made for the glass cones, steel -making etc.
    Teaching occasionally at the Red Cone Glass Works, I am particularly interested in the fire-brick clay industry.
    I am aware that there was good quality clay, in depth, available between Wordsley and Stourbridge.
    It would be interesting to know how many (out of the 200 you quote) of the brick works made these more specialised bricks.

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