NEWS & Links by Julia Sandison
Newsletter No. 14 here
Newsletter No. 12 here
Newsletter No. 11 here
Newsletter No. 10 here
Newsletter No. 9 May 2012 here
Some publicity links:
Winchester City Council open evening - upbeat discussions on the future of the viaduct Julia’s Report
Newsletter No. 8 October 2011 here
Newsletter No. 7 May 2011 here
The Viaduct’s Brickwork
Many of you will know that the coping bricks (i.e. the blue engineering bricks that cover the tops of the walls) were made by Blanchards of Bishop’s Waltham, but may not know anything about that company.
Peter Watkins, the historian of Bishop’s Waltham, writes in his excellent book “Bishop’s Waltham – Parish, Town and Church” about how the town had produced bricks since the Middle Ages since the brickfield at Coppice Hill dated from at least the c14th until its demise in 1957.
The local clayfields were also important in brick production and in 1859 one Arthur Helps bought land with the intention of using this clay which was considered to be amongst the finest in the land. He employed Blanchard’s of Lambeth to analyse the clay and on the strength of their findings formed the Bishop’s Waltham Clay Company with a working capital of £80,000.
His first products were the black tiles and bricks used to build Blackfriars Bridge in London, but he also built houses in Victoria and Albert Roads to attract workers to the town.
In 1871 Mark Blanchard leased Helps’ brickyard, closed his Lambeth works and concentrated all his business at Bishop’s Waltham. He built his own large home, Claylands, close to the works, using all his own bricks and tiles, as a showcase.
By the 1880s the brickworks were considered to be among the most important producers in the world and its goods ranged from red and blue bricks, via roofing and floor tiles, copings, channelings and drain pipes to terracotta objects and even art pottery.
Blanchard’s bricks were used not just for the Hockley Viaduct but also for Buckingham Palace, London’s Natural History Museum, London’s Cannon Street Station, London’s St Pancras Hotel and the Prudential Building in Southampton. They were also to be found in Poland, the USA and the Grand Hotel, Cairo.
Blanchard’s fortunes waxed and waned through the two wars until its closure in 1956. Claylands has sadly gone to make way for a small industrial estate but all around the country there are still many reminders of their top class products.
The Lunsford brickworks at Bexhill, E. Sussex, can be identified in Brickmaking in Sussex by M. Beswick (2001) ISBN 1 873793 197.
Copies are available at Bursledon Brickworks.