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Author Topic: Eastwood Brick Works, Upchurch Kent.  (Read 9000 times)

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Offline mikegunnill

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Re: Eastwood Brick Works, Upchurch Kent.
« Reply #11 on: June 02, 2014, 22:14:49 »
Delivering Bricks – Recollections of a lorry drivers “mate” aged about 13 years old


Reminiscing about the various Cafés and truck stops which were visited, I recall I used to spend my  pocket money on the juke boxes playing my favourite record of the day which was “When” by the Kalin Twins – looking up on Wikipedia I see this was a chart-topper in the UK Singles Chart for five weeks in 1958.  I wasn’t too far out with my initial estimate!

Good stories from Barry 5X Thank you.  I have moved on at the moment to the Falcon Cement Works at Overshore, Otterham Creek. There are a few mentions in census reports but very little else. The factory appears to have been expanded around 1900 and then closed down 1914. Sometime prior to 1900 all the cottages seem to have been pulled down to make way for the factory. Overshore almost could be filed under " the lost hamlet of...." Strange that Wakeley's built nearly 20 sailing barges at this location.

Mike Gunnill

Upchurch in old picture postcards.
Otterham Kent - Your Heritage.

Barry 5X

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Re: Eastwood Brick Works, Upchurch Kent.
« Reply #10 on: April 25, 2014, 13:21:47 »
Delivering Bricks – Recollections of a lorry drivers “mate” aged about 13 years old

Not quite sure of the year but it must have been around 1957 to 59, when as a young boy I spent nearly the whole of the summer school holidays on a lorry driven by my sisters first husband.  He was a driver for a haulage firm based in Milton Regis called the Wood Brothers who had a small fleet of either 3 or 4 lorries all decked out in a recognisable deep blue delivery.  I can remember that Ron, my brother-in-law, drove a noisy Commer Diesel with the distinctive rounded front end, and another lorry was a new and trendy “Thames Trader”.

The so called depot (in want of another name) was a yard behind the house that stands on the corner where Crown Road veers off to the right from the Milton Regis High Street.  Looking on google maps the building has been modernised with the entrance to the yard (still assessable) now built over.  Back in the 50’s parking three lorries in the yard through a narrow gate opening was an art in itself.  The house, belonging to the Wood family I believe, had a royal historical association – of what and to whom I have long forgotten.  What I can remember is that Crown Road was the main thoroughfare through Milton Regis at the time used by buses etc. to take you to and from Chalkwell Road and to the junction with the A2.  The High Street to the left of the property was at that time a very narrow and steep hill which was fun to ride down on a bike - but not up.

The main use of the lorries was to transport bricks from the many brickyards of Upchurch, Lower Halstow and the surrounding area.  If I recall correctly the bricks were called “Funtons” which were a sandy colour with the ingredients containing a “clinker” type material.  I am not sure on how many bricks were loaded on the lorry but I estimate it to be around 4 to 5,000 (maybe more) – in hindsight it always seemed the lorry was loaded to a maximum with bricks which basically allowed the lorry to be driven “safely” - just.  The bricks were always hand loaded onto the lorry sometimes with the assistance of workers at the brick works, and bearing in mind there was always a queue of lorries waiting to be loaded, often the drivers would load their own lorry by themselves.  Once loaded the usual destinations would be to the new towns of Harlow, Welwyn Garden City, Letchworth and Crawley New Town.  If you were lucky you would be met at the delivery site by workers who would assist you to unload.  With the priority being the time to offload and the amount of new hosing being built there was little care on ensuring the bricks weren’t damaged in the process.  Sometimes the bricks were delivered to a customer where perhaps the only person onsite was the lady of the house.  This resulted in the lorry driver having to offload the bricks carefully by hand, by himself under the watchful eye of the customer.  Being a young lad I used to assist where possible, moving the bricks to and from the middle of the lorry to the edge for my brother in law to stack them up.  I was somewhat proud to assist and I recall feeling I was all grown up when I was presented with my own hand pads – these were rubber pads which were crudely cut out from a lorry tyres “inner tube”.  They were simple but effective and prevented the hands from being cut.

Obviously it was beneficial if a return load could be organised and I can recall transporting bricks from the Bedford area brick fields back to Kent.  I can also recall picking up loads of clinker from the Leyton area (from a coal/coke power station) for the Kent brick yards to use.  My brother-in-law used to tell me that the Leyton Orient Football ground nearby had the best grass and drainage in the league due to the pitch being built upon a cinder/clinker base – How true this was I am not sure.  Sometimes if there were no return loads and the two Wood Brothers lorries were on a dual run or nearby to each other, the Thames Trader lorry would be loaded on the back of the Commer truck to save fuel on the return journey.  I recall that one of the brick yards had a platform type ramp that allowed the Thames Trader lorry to drive off the back of the other lorry.

The days were long, especially if the lorry had to be loaded in the morning.  It was always the aim to complete a delivery and get back to the brickworks to load up ready for the following day.  During the summer there was also a period where the lorries would be used to transport fruit and vegetables from the Sittingbourne area to the Convent Garden market in London.  This would be an extra run after delivering bricks.  There were no tachographs in those days so there would be days where you would set off with a load of bricks at 7am for delivery and return, back in the Sittingbourne area, around tea time you would collect up the fruit at the many orchards and make the trip to London.  You would get home and into bed around 1am and then up again at 6am.  I can recall being at Covent Garden with the theatre going people in their top hat and tails and evening dresses walking between the delivery lorries and the many bustling stands and barrows of the market – seemed bizarre.

This school summer holiday experience was most memorable to me and I can still clearly and fondly recall the journeys travelled.  The first stop of any day when using the A2 was the Danson Café for breakfast.  This was after the thrilling climb up the long hill (the one on the A2 just before the M25 Dartford Tunnel interchange) which was named in those days as the “Drag”.  The road at this point used to be three lanes with the priority for the middle lane being given to the traffic going up.  Being a passenger in a Commer truck, probably more than fully loaded with bricks, driving uphill in the middle lane, with my brother-in-laws foot to the floor trying not to lose revs and him swearing at the driver in front to go faster, was for a young boy exhilarating - notwithstanding experiencing the noise coming from the Diesel engine and exhaust which was under maximum load.  The noise when travelling through the Blackwall tunnel was even more exciting.  Of course in those days London was also known as the “Smoke”

Reminiscing about the various Cafés and truck stops which were visited, I recall I used to spend my  pocket money on the juke boxes playing my favourite record of the day which was “When” by the Kalin Twins – looking up on Wikipedia I see this was a chart-topper in the UK Singles Chart for five weeks in 1958.  I wasn’t too far out with my initial estimate!

Offline mikegunnill

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Re: Eastwood Brick Works, Upchurch Kent.
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2014, 16:06:10 »
Hello:

Does anyone know why one of the brick fields at Otterham were called < Leeneys >?

Has anyone further information on Joseph E. Butcher a business man from Frindsbury? Until the merger with Eastwoods he owned the site known as Four Gun, later Four Gun Field in Otterham Quay Lane, Upchurch.

Planning permission has been granted for 50 homes on the Four Gun Field site. I am trying to update the history prior to building starting. Important to make sure this part of local Upchurch heritage is recorded.


As always grateful for any assistance.

* I have already checked: Brick and Brickies, Just Off The Swale, Cement Mud and Muddies and Medway Archives.

Mike

Mike Gunnill

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Otterham Kent - Your Heritage.

Offline mikegunnill

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Re: Eastwood Brick Works, Upchurch Kent.
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2013, 08:10:48 »
Mike, if you want to find out anything about Barge ownership etc this Site of Frank's is the ultimate reference.
http://www.thamesbarge.org.uk/barges/Willmott.html

Thank you the web site is very useful. My quest continues which includes roman remains & pots at Otterham, Overshore and the previous owner of Four Gun Field. The name < Four Gun > may date back to 1680. Amazing what you find when you start a journey here! Hopefully more to come later.

Would I be correct in thinking Overshore is where Woodger's Wharf is now?

If anyone has anything to do with the brickfields of Otterham or the area please get in touch.

Thank you to all.
Mike Gunnill

Upchurch in old picture postcards.
Otterham Kent - Your Heritage.

Offline grandarog

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Re: Eastwood Brick Works, Upchurch Kent.
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2013, 21:45:46 »
Mike, if you want to find out anything about Barge ownership etc this Site of Frank's is the ultimate reference.
http://www.thamesbarge.org.uk/barges/Willmott.html

Offline mikegunnill

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Re: Eastwood Brick Works, Upchurch Kent.
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2013, 22:31:04 »
Eastwoods owned four brickfields at Otterham.

One, known as Leeneys, was right on Otterham Quay itself. This brickfield closed in 1931-1932. Brickmaking at the time was seasonal and the Leeneys Brickfield could turn out 2.5M bricks per season.

No idea why 'Four Gun Field' was so-called, but it was the smallest of the four Eastwoods Brickfields. It closed in 1954.

Opposite the Four Gun field was the Clover Lay brickfield. This closed in 1953.

The largest of the brickfields was 'Big Field' on the corner of the Lower Rainham Road and Otterham Quay Lane. The bricks were fired in Staffordshire Kilns. Before the Big Field was modernised in 1950, when the process of making bricks was automated, it could turn out 270,000 bricks a week. After the Big Field was automated, it could turn out 18M bricks a year. The Big Field was the last of the Otterham brickfields to close, in the 1980's.

Eastwoods also owned a fleet of sailing barges which ran from places like Otterham Quay, Lower Halstow Dock, Conyer and Teynham. Incidentally, the barge Westmoreland is the last remaining Eastwoods barge and that vessel and the efforts so far to bring her home and restore her are detailed here: http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=13807

This information is taken from the book 'Bricks and Brickies' by F G Willmott. This book is full of fascinating information and can be found in Medway Council libraries. It is out of print and the only copy I have found for sale (other than online) was in Baggins Book Bazaar in Rochester for the ridiculous price (I think so anyway) of £28.00.

Thank you for the information here. I am most grateful. I have purchased a copy of Bricks and Brickies and I agree it is very helpful.

My latest research points to 1667 when the Dutch invaded the area and attacked shipping in the Medway. My quest for how Four Gun Field got it's name, continues.

PS I bought a copy online for £12.00.

Mike
Mike Gunnill

Upchurch in old picture postcards.
Otterham Kent - Your Heritage.

Offline Bilgerat

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Re: Eastwood Brick Works, Upchurch Kent.
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2013, 21:42:19 »
Eastwoods owned four brickfields at Otterham.

One, known as Leeneys, was right on Otterham Quay itself. This brickfield closed in 1931-1932. Brickmaking at the time was seasonal and the Leeneys Brickfield could turn out 2.5M bricks per season.

No idea why 'Four Gun Field' was so-called, but it was the smallest of the four Eastwoods Brickfields. It closed in 1954.

Opposite the Four Gun field was the Clover Lay brickfield. This closed in 1953.

The largest of the brickfields was 'Big Field' on the corner of the Lower Rainham Road and Otterham Quay Lane. The bricks were fired in Staffordshire Kilns. Before the Big Field was modernised in 1950, when the process of making bricks was automated, it could turn out 270,000 bricks a week. After the Big Field was automated, it could turn out 18M bricks a year. The Big Field was the last of the Otterham brickfields to close, in the 1980's.

Eastwoods also owned a fleet of sailing barges which ran from places like Otterham Quay, Lower Halstow Dock, Conyer and Teynham. Incidentally, the barge Westmoreland is the last remaining Eastwoods barge and that vessel and the efforts so far to bring her home and restore her are detailed here: http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=13807

This information is taken from the book 'Bricks and Brickies' by F G Willmott. This book is full of fascinating information and can be found in Medway Council libraries. It is out of print and the only copy I have found for sale (other than online) was in Baggins Book Bazaar in Rochester for the ridiculous price (I think so anyway) of £28.00.
"I did not say that the French will not come, I said they will not come by sea" - Lord St Vincent

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Eastwood Brick Works, Upchurch Kent.
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2013, 19:08:40 »
Thank You.  :)

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Offline mikegunnill

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Re: Eastwood Brick Works, Upchurch Kent.
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2013, 18:16:00 »
Is there any more to that map Mikegunnill? The tramway has sparked my interest and wondered if you have coverage for the full extent?

Sentinel S4.

Otterham Creek, Kent is at the top of the image. This shows the tramways/lines in 1933.


Mike Gunnill

Upchurch in old picture postcards.
Otterham Kent - Your Heritage.

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Eastwood Brick Works, Upchurch Kent.
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2013, 17:57:48 »
Is there any more to that map Mikegunnill? The tramway has sparked my interest and wondered if you have coverage for the full extent?

Sentinel S4.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

Offline mikegunnill

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Eastwood Brick Works, Upchurch Kent.
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2013, 17:13:16 »

I am looking for information on Eastwood Brick Works, Upchurch - Kent. Especially across the road from the old site, there is an area known locally as Four Gun Field. Does anyone know how it came to be named Four Gun Field? The location now close to the junction of Otterham Quay Lane & Lower Rainham Road, Upchurch Rainham Kent. Close also to the Three Sisters public house.

I have a couple of photographs showing the old brickworks site in 1963 just before closure. Plus a photograph of Otterham Creek in 1958 showing huge stockpiles of bricks waiting for transportation.

Grateful for any information on Eastwood's, Upchurch & the area known as Four Gun Field.

Thank you
Mike




Mike Gunnill

www.upchurch-village.co.uk



Mike Gunnill

Upchurch in old picture postcards.
Otterham Kent - Your Heritage.

 

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