Posts Tagged ‘industry’

The clay pit

July 5, 2014

Almost inevitably, a brickworks creates a quarry which fills with water. The clay that is removed to make bricks is pretty well impenetrable by water – hence its use for puddling dewponds and canals. And so, when Market Lavington had a brickworks, it also had a flooded quarry – and here it is.

1930s shot of the old clay pit at the Broadway brickworks

1930s shot of the old clay pit at the Broadway brickworks

This tranquil looking rural scene was actually the aftermath of a hive of industry. It was sited behind Broadway House – the old brick master’s home which still stands.

This photo dates from the 1930s. The brickworks was still in use but there’s no evidence that this lake was still the quarry for clay. Indeed, a swan is visible on the lake which does imply that it was not a greatly disturbed area of water.

After the brick works closed and into the post war era of the 50s and 60s, the quarry was used as a land fill site by the district council. Once filled it was lightly landscaped and is now an area for light industry and trading.

Before that it had been a place for local youngsters to risk their lives playing mad cap games. We are not aware that there were any actual tragedies.


Prospecting for Oil in the Lavingtons

November 25, 2012

Back in 1979, people came prospecting for oil in Market Lavington and along the vale generally. The process was simple enough, although no doubt much analysis had to be done of the data gathered.

Some huge tractor like vehicles arrived in the area. They stopped and no doubt accurate measurements were made as to their precise position (how much easier these days, with GPS).

The tractor then dropped a fairly massive weight on the ground. This set up vibrations and it was from the analysis of these that the experts reckoned they could locate if oil was there.

Presumably, the chances of oil were not deemed good for no exploratory drilling took place in this area.

These tractors visited Market Lavington in 1979. They were checking to see if there just could be oil underneath the ground here.

The pictures – not outstanding in quality, show the tractors parked overnight.

Another view shows the three oil prospecting tractors

A Fishtail Tile

November 24, 2012

The old brick and tile works is long gone. The clay pit is filled and the whole site now has other, light industrial uses. But at Market Lavington Museum we can preserve the memory of the heyday of brick and tile making in the parish. We have a couple of the slightly fancy fishtail tiles.

Fishtail tile from the 1870s at Market Lavington Museum

This one dates from about 1870 and is clearly labelled with the brickwork owner’s name – ‘W BOX’

The tile is clearly stamped W BOX. William Box owned the brickworks

With a little digital jiggery-pokery we can get some idea of what these bricks might have looked like when laid together.

The tiles could have looked like this when hung.

It has been said of Christopher Wren, in St Paul’s Cathedral, ‘if you seek his momument, look around you’. The same could be said for the brick masters of Market Lavington. And you don’t have to look far from the museum to find fishtail tiles. Indeed, the nearest building, now The Old School, is covered in them.

A part of Market Lavington Old School roof – it is covered with fishtail tiles.

We can see that the tiler had a course with a triangular, rather than rounded tail, to make a pattern across the roof.

Hacked off

September 18, 2012

In the brick making business hacks were stands where freshly made bricks could be stacked and dried before firing. Given the ability for the British weather to throw down rain, covers were needed to protect the bricks. Around a brickworks there were what looked like long low sheds with sections of hinged roof.  They’d have just been an unexceptional part of the countryside.

The Market Lavington Brick, Tile and Pottery Works, at Broadway in Market Lavington had hacks. A photo was taken in the 1920s which preserves their memory.

Hacks – stands for brick drying at the Market Lavington Brick, Tile and Pottery Works in the 1920s

This was in the time when Holloway Brothers owned and operated the brickworks. It was a time when manual labour was still the order of the day. A website called ‘Rick’s Bricks’ describes the five main processes in brickmaking. The clay and formed bricks were handled and moved from place to place many times before leaving the works for use. First, the clay was dug and then moved to a mill which ensured an even texture. The clay then went to the moulding shed where skilled workers made the brick shapes. The bricks were moved to an initial drying space for two days. Then they were moved to the hacks. About two weeks later they’d have been moved again – to be fired. The bricks could now be allowed to cool and be removed from the kiln. It was a truly labour intensive business.

A Narrow Boat on White Street

September 12, 2012

Let’s get the difficulty out of the way to start with. This is White Street, Market Lavington and the year is about 1998.

We see a canal narrow boat, making its slow and cautious way down White Street and into the centre of Market Lavington.

A narrow boat on White Street, Market Lavington in about 1998.

The boat has come from the Mount Pleasant Yard at the foot of Lavington Hill. At that time boats like this were put together at the yard from where they had a difficult journey on a lorry before they could be lowered into water.  A full length narrow boat is some 70 feet long and just 7 feet wide.

There is still industrial activity at the yard. These machines were photographed there in 2009.

Machinery in Mount Pleasant Yard, Market Lavington in 2009

Narrow boats do not seem to be in production there any more.

Easterton from the Air – 1970s

September 4, 2012

Easterton has changed quite a lot in 50 or so years. We’ll see a few of the changes in this aerial photo taken in 1970.

Easterton from the air in the 1970s

We could start at the top left with some of the houses on Hayward’s Place. Residents there may not know that their road is named after Ben Hayward who occupied the house ‘Kestrels’ for much of the nineteenth century.

A path, from just below those houses leads diagonally across the picture and passes in front of Woodbine Cottage. This white building under a red roof was the home of Samuel Moore. He started producing jam on a cottage scale from this house which is situated on what now gets called ‘Sam Moore’s Lane’ or ‘The Drove’. Of course, his business expanded and when this photo was taken almost all of the land to the right of Woodbine Cottage is occupied by the jam factory. Much of the area has stacked up barrels of fruit. Once upon a time it had been grown locally but, by the 1970s, it was mostly imported fruit that was used.

You can see much more about the jam factory at The Museum Miscellany on 15th September this year.

At the bottom right of the picture a bungalow stands where once there was the entrance to Easterton School. Easterton School closed its doors in 1971 when the new St Barnabas School opened serving Market Lavington and Easterton.

We can now work back to the left along High Street. The house and buildings of Halstead Farm stand out clearly. The house is still there but more housing occupies much of the site around it now. Towards the left there is the former Methodist Chapel. That is now a dwelling house. The church members became a part of Trinity Church, which now meets in the Community Hall in Market Lavington.

We can just see the tops of houses on this side of High Street. That area is pretty well unchanged today.

Honeychurch Doll’s House

November 9, 2011

We are delighted to have a Honeychurch doll’s house at Market Lavington Museum. These houses were made in Market Lavington, achieving a very high reputation for quality and they sold all over the world.

Our doll’s house is a small, wall-mounted house as befits the space available in a small cottage. Not only is it a museum exhibit, it is also there for children to play with when they visit the museum. We also have a toy trunk with other toys our younger visitors can use.

1960s Honeychurch doll's house at Market Lavington Museum

The house dates from the 1960s. Some twenty years later, local school children produced this company ‘profile’ for the Domesday project, which the BBC has now reloaded at

Honeychurch Toys is a small company making wooden houses and Jack in the boxes. Mrs Honeychurch went to Bath Academy where she learnt to be an art and craft teacher. Her partner went to college and trained in furniture design and worked with wood. They employ 5 people and 1 part time for 3 hours. They make 5 varieties of Jack in the box, the Golly, Mr Punch, Strong Man, Harlequin and Joey. It takes 3 days to make 108. The houses are made with birch ply wood from Russia and include Town house, Cotswold house, French house, Cupboard house, Edwardian house, Victorian shop, L-shaped house and Regency house. The biggest doll’s house they have made is 6 ft square. It was made specially for a 21st birthday present. The houses go to Germany and France.

Tin Snips

July 10, 2011

Throughout much of the 19th century, Market Lavington was fortunate enough to have a resident tinsmith – sometimes known as a whitesmith. These were men (women just didn’t do that kind of work 100 or more years ago) who cut shaped and soldered items in tin plate  to make all sorts of domestic hollow-ware.

Tin smithing was a real trade. Workers served long apprenticeships, starting with easy shapes, like cake cutters and pill boxes. Later, he might also have made milk pails, quite fancy coffee pots and even chandeliers as he developed his skills.

The family in Market Lavington who carried on this trade were the Bakers. The first we know of was John Baker, born in 1800 in Market Lavington who died in 1873. Our information comes from a piece of writing on a photo and is confirmed by census data.

John Baker, 1800 - 1873, tin smith of Market Lavington


The photograph's caption

We believe it was this John who used an enormous pair of snips we have at the museum. Although maybe they stayed in use for the next generation – also John Baker.

John Baker's tin snips at Market Lavington Museum

These snips are enormous and very definitely two handed. They measure almost 50 cm long and must have ben able to cut through pretty substantial pieces of tin plate.

Old Bricks

July 1, 2011

There is a long history of brick making in Market Lavington – certainly back into the seventeenth century. A suitable source of clay existed at Broadway where bricks were made through the eighteenth,  nineteenth and into the twentieth century.

Here we are looking at earlier bricks, using a photograph that was a part of the 2010 ‘Photographing Wiltshire’s Treasures’ project – an award winning collaboration between the Museum service and  photography students from New College, Swindon.

Some of the older bricks on display at Market Lavington Museum

The three bricks shown were all made in Market Lavington. The top brick is stamped “ IL 1721” so we know the age, if not the manufacturer by name.

Next we have a Philpott brick. The Philpotts had the brick works from about 1760 and well into the nineteenth century.

The third brick is stamped G A Cayley.  Cayley is not a name which appears in Market Lavington records. Could it be that some written documents which have the surname ‘Crawley’ as an 18th century Market Lavington brick maker should actually say Cayley?

Maybe a blog reader can tell us more.

Brick display at Market Lavington Museum

May 6, 2011

Market Lavington has what it takes for brick making – areas of suitable clay – and bricks have been made in the area for centuries.

Brick making in Market Lavington is long since a thing of the past. The old clay quarry has been filled, levelled and has other industrial uses. Some of the old brickworks building, down on Broadway near the bridge under the railway, are still in existence and used by a local company. The old brick master’s house has been renovated, with some features never on the original building and remains a rather lovely looking residence. But for real memories of the brick industry you’ll need to visit the museum at Market Lavington where we have done a little tidy up and revamp of the brick area.

The brick area at Market Lavington Museum

Here, you’ll see all sorts of bricks made in Market Lavington over the past couple of hundred years. Many are standard enough looking bricks with different manufacturer’s names embossed in the ‘frog’. One locally made brick even commemorates the coronation of King George V in 1910 with information in that depression which bricks have (the frog) which is never seen once the bricks are used.

As well as bricks there are tiles including examples of mathematical tiles, which are designed to look like bricks when hung. There are also floor tiles and specialist ventilator tiles from maltings.

Of course, there are photos, including some of the Box family who were the owners of the company at the end of the nineteenth century and other artefacts associated with the business.

So, if you wish to know more about what was once a major business in our parish, then do visit the museum.