Whittlesey brickworks built on heritage celebrates 50 years of production

PUBLISHED: 15:39 20 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:39 20 June 2019

Leading masonry manufacturer Forterra’s Kings Dyke brickworks in Whittlesey is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Picture: FORTERRA ARCHIVES

Leading masonry manufacturer Forterra's Kings Dyke brickworks in Whittlesey is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Picture: FORTERRA ARCHIVES

Archant

An iconic Whittlesey brickworks is marking half a century of production at its site.

Leading masonry manufacturer Forterra’s Kings Dyke brickworks in Whittlesey is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Picture: FORTERRA ARCHIVESLeading masonry manufacturer Forterra’s Kings Dyke brickworks in Whittlesey is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Picture: FORTERRA ARCHIVES

Forterra's Kings Dyke brickworks is celebrating 50 years of non-stop manufacture at the home of the historic London Brick.

Kings Dyke has been in continuous brick production since June 24 1969, when the works was brought into operation.

Established by the London Brick Company, the plant initially produced 1.25 million bricks per week, a figure that doubled with the construction of a second kiln two years later.

Forterra acquired the brickworks in 1984.

Leading masonry manufacturer Forterra’s Kings Dyke brickworks in Whittlesey is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Picture: FORTERRA ARCHIVESLeading masonry manufacturer Forterra’s Kings Dyke brickworks in Whittlesey is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Picture: FORTERRA ARCHIVES

The bricks are made from Lower Oxford Clay from the Jurassic Period, sourced on site at Must Farm Quarry.

The Whittlesey region has a rich brickmaking heritage dating back to the 19th century.

The site now has four kilns and three chimneys - one of which stands at 400 metres and is one of the tallest in Europe - continue to dominate the local landscape.

Andrew Mortlock, who is Kings Dyke's resident London Brick Archivist, has worked on site for the last 45 years.

He said: "Naturally, I've seen a great many changes at Kings Dyke over the years, with coal-fired kilns and hand lifting giving way to countless increases in automation.

"While the works has always been at the forefront of innovation, family and tradition have remained constant, with many second generation employees amongst the staff - my own son has worked here for the last decade.

"Kings Dyke is truly unique for the fact it's the only works still producing the original London Brick - long may it continue."

The works was built 70 feet below ground level on the floor of a worked-out clay pit, which held two major economic and environmental advantages.

Kings Dyke Nature Reserve was established in 1995 for the benefit of local residents and schools.

Stephen Harrison, chief executive of Forterra, said: "As we celebrate 50 years since the opening of Kings Dyke, we recognise the commitment of a great many of the site's long-serving employees.

"Kings Dyke is a brickworks rooted in heritage, where the distinctive London Brick is exclusively produced today: a sustainable and durable product whose enduring popularity is testament to its reputation."

The iconic London Brick features a "frog" which allows them to burn more quickly and evenly, adding to their environmental credentials.

Now produced solely by Forterra, London Brick has been in production for more 140 years.

The brand, whose heritage is closely linked to economic regeneration due to its role in post-war housebuilding, continues to be used for residential renovation, maintenance and improvement.

Forterra will be hosting a 50th anniversary celebration event at Kings Dyke on June 26 from 6.30pm to 9pm.

The evening will feature talks from London Brick archivist Andrew Mortlock and Philip Parker, who runs Kings Dyke Nature Reserve on behalf of Forterra.

These will be followed by a factory tour and a prize giveaway.

The event is open to Kings Dyke staff and a limited number of local residents on a first come first served basis via marketing@forterra.co.uk.

For more information about Forterra visit https://www.forterra.co.uk/

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