|West 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
West Mersea Brickworks by Peter Tucker
Clifford White Undertakers