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28 October 2014
Legacies - Beds, Herts and Bucks

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Stewartby, London Brick Company, 1940s
© S. Bale, donated to "Changing Landscapes Changing Lives" Oral History Archive at Forest of Marston Vale
Brickmaking in Bedfordshire

The brick industry has long been associated with Bedfordshire, thanks to the vast deposits of clay in the region, which were formed over 150 million years ago when the area was under sea. For much of the 20th Century, the brick companies employed huge numbers of people in the county, particularly after World War II, when the rebuilding and reconstruction of the country’s towns and cities created a huge demand for bricks. However, by the end of the century, the industry’s fortunes were declining, threatened by new technologies and products.

This oral collection of worker’s memories looks at change and continuity in Bedfordshire’s brick industry in the 20th Century, from the growing diversity of the workforce in the 1950s and ‘60s, to the reflections of the last works’ nurse before she retires. And from the days of burning bricks “by eye” to those of fork lift trucks and computerised controls. More...

Words: Carmela Semeraro

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