ID ML2020_011_075 / Ron Green

TitleWest Mersea Brickworks
AbstractWest Mersea had a brickworks. In 1905 the Mersea Brick and Iron Company was advertising Red Facing Bricks and Tiles. Behind the company was a developer from London, involved in the ambitious development plans for Mersea before World War 1, but the brickworks was run by Maurice Thorp, a local builder. Before long however, the development bubble burst.

25 June 1914 there was an auction of Willoughby John Bean's property. The sale document lists the Brickworks 2 acres 2 roods with a kiln for 30 thousand bricks, let to M. Thorp @ £8 p a + 1/6d per thousand royalty. It sold at the auction for £200 to M. Thorp.

Two months later, Maurice Thorp was declared bankrupt, and then by the end of 1914, Willoughby John Bean was bankrupt. He had once owned much of West Mersea.

Before long, the brickworks was part of the Clifford White Empire. Like his other ventures, Clifford White made a success of the brickworks, and for a while he even owned another brickworks at Weeley. The Mersea bricks were used for many local buildings, the most prominent being the water tower - built by C.M. White with bricks by Clifford White & Co.

A postcard advertising the brickworks. The view is southeast. Broomhills Road would be in the distance in the far centre and the River can just be made out behind the trees on the right

The site was the area now covered by Rushmere Close and the kiln was where the carpark is now. The brickmaking shed was about where Page Computers is now. The clay for the bricks was dug nearby.

For blackout reasons the kiln wasn't fired up during World War 2 but it stood full of bricks which were eventually burnt in 1946 at the time I started my bricklaying apprenticeship with Clifford White, and we used take a handcart down to pick up a few if we had a small job to do like topping a chimney. The works closed about 1950 and most of the stock was sold for works in Colchester Barracks. I was working just past Pete Hall on the Colchester Road at the time and recall Clifford's 5 ton Austin lorry going by, driven by Bert Hempstead loaded well down on the springs with 2000 bricks on.

Published in Mersea Life, November 2020

AuthorRon Green
PublishedNovember 2020
SourceMersea Museum
IDML2020_011_075
Related Images:
 West Mersea Brickworks.
 Clifford White & Co.
 Brick, tile and pipe manufacturers and timber merchants.
 Phone West Mersea 1.
</p><p>This is now the site of Rushmere Close. The view is looking southeast, Broomhills Road would be upper centre. The river and Bradwell can just be made out on the horizon on the right.
 The row of bricks in the centre have been burned, but the other bricks are clay still drying out before firing. The bricks in rows on 'hacks' or 'hakes' and covered to protect them from the weather.
 The kiln was off to the right - it held about 30,000 bricks - enough to build a pair of semi-detached houses.  CMW_MBW_001
ImageID:   CMW_MBW_001
Title: West Mersea Brickworks.
Clifford White & Co.
Brick, tile and pipe manufacturers and timber merchants.
Phone West Mersea 1.

This is now the site of Rushmere Close. The view is looking southeast, Broomhills Road would be upper centre. The river and Bradwell can just be made out on the horizon on the right.
The row of bricks in the centre have been burned, but the other bricks are clay still drying out before firing. The bricks in rows on 'hacks' or 'hakes' and covered to protect them from the weather.
The kiln was off to the right - it held about 30,000 bricks - enough to build a pair of semi-detached houses.

Source:Mersea Museum / Clifford White Collection
 West Mersea Brickworks.
 Clifford White & Co.
 Brick, tile and pipe manufacturers and timber merchants.
 Phone West Mersea 1.  CMW_MBW_003
ImageID:   CMW_MBW_003
Title: West Mersea Brickworks.
Clifford White & Co.
Brick, tile and pipe manufacturers and timber merchants.
Phone West Mersea 1.
Source:Mersea Museum / Clifford White Collection
 West Mersea Water Tower
 Constructed with red bricks manufactured and supplied by Clifford White & Co., West Mersea.
 Built 1925.  CMW_WTW_005
ImageID:   CMW_WTW_005
Title: West Mersea Water Tower
Constructed with red bricks manufactured and supplied by Clifford White & Co., West Mersea.
Built 1925.
Date:c1926
Source:Mersea Museum / Clifford White Collection
 The brickfields run by Clifford White behind Underwoods Garage in West Mersea.
 Sid Greenleaf, not known, Bill Gasson, Ernie Dixon Tim Mole and Kenny Bacon.  GSM_OPA_021
ImageID:   GSM_OPA_021
Title: The brickfields run by Clifford White behind Underwoods Garage in West Mersea.
Sid Greenleaf, not known, Bill Gasson, Ernie Dixon Tim Mole and Kenny Bacon.
Source:Mersea Museum / Geoff Mole
 1925 Clifford White brickworkers. 
 Back L-R 'Noodles' James, Bill Gasson, Tim Mole, Jim Mills, Alec Green. Front Bill James, Bert Hempstead (15) Lewis Green, Jack Hopkins, Jim Goodwin, Charlie Jay (Brian's uncle) Jim Mills was Lorna Tarran's father.  MMC_L197_003
ImageID:   MMC_L197_003
Title: 1925 Clifford White brickworkers.
Back L-R 'Noodles' James, Bill Gasson, Tim Mole, Jim Mills, Alec Green. Front Bill James, Bert Hempstead (15) Lewis Green, Jack Hopkins, Jim Goodwin, Charlie Jay (Brian's uncle) Jim Mills was Lorna Tarran's father.
Date:1925
Source:Mersea Museum
 The Mersea Brick & Iron Co., Ltd.,
 Manufacturers of
 Red Facing Bricks and Tiles. General Builders Merchants.
 Sea View Road, West Mersea.
 J.H. Gardner, Managing Director.
</p><p>
From Queensville, West Mersea. Estate Sale brochure.  QVL_002_016_001
ImageID:   QVL_002_016_001
Title: The Mersea Brick & Iron Co., Ltd.,
Manufacturers of
Red Facing Bricks and Tiles. General Builders Merchants.
Sea View Road, West Mersea.
J.H. Gardner, Managing Director.

From Queensville, West Mersea. Estate Sale brochure.

Date:30 September 1908
Source:Mersea Museum / T.B. Millatt
 West Mersea Brickfields (the Brick Hill). The brickmaking shed and the hakes (foreground) for drying newly made bricks before burning. Arnold Gasson and friend. Photo taken from top of kiln looking northeast.
 Rushmere Close is now on the site of the brickyard.  RG19_149
ImageID:   RG19_149
Title: West Mersea Brickfields (the Brick Hill). The brickmaking shed and the hakes (foreground) for drying newly made bricks before burning. Arnold Gasson and friend. Photo taken from top of kiln looking northeast.
Rushmere Close is now on the site of the brickyard.
Date:c1938
Source:Ron Green Collection
 Brickmaker Bill Gasson about to unload the kiln. Mersea brickyard - Underwoods Garage in background.  RG19_151
ImageID:   RG19_151
Title: Brickmaker Bill Gasson about to unload the kiln. Mersea brickyard - Underwoods Garage in background.
Date:c1938
Source:Ron Green Collection
 West Mersea brickfield. Arnold Gasson and friend by the products of Mersea brickyard c1938. Underwoods Garage in the background.  RG19_155
ImageID:   RG19_155
Title: West Mersea brickfield. Arnold Gasson and friend by the products of Mersea brickyard c1938. Underwoods Garage in the background.
Date:c1938
Source:Ron Green Collection