Bentley Hall Brick Company Limited

The company, founded on 28th October, 1933, leased 80 acres of land from the Bentley Hall Estate, on which to build a brick works, using the plentiful supply of available clay. Production began in 1934, soon after the completion of the kiln. In the following year the company purchased the land from the Bentley Hall Estate, plus an additional 3½ acres for £10,000.

Production slowed during World War 2 because of a shortage of labour, and the reduction in house building. In July 1943 the works were closed by order of the Ministry of Works as part of a plan to concentrate production.

In November 1944 Rubery Owen & Company Limited acquired the business as part of A. G. B. Owen's plan to build a garden village at Bentley. The works reopened after the war, and the manufacturing process was mechanised in order to increase production. The works were situated to the north of the main Willenhall to Walsall Road, beside where the M6 stands today. The manager was Mr. G. Williams, and the company claimed to produce the finest red bricks in the West Midlands.

A Bentley Hall brick. Courtesy of Paul Robinson.

This photo, taken during the building of the M6 Motorway at Bentley, includes the once familiar view of the brickworks, that overshadowed the motorway.

The bulldozer. From the Christmas 1947 edition of the staff magazine "Yuletide".

The clay from which the bricks were made was delivered to the works by a tractor, bulldozer, and scraper.

There were four automatic brick-making machines, each capable of producing 1,150 bricks per hour.

The site also contained fine china clay which was also exploited.

Another view of the bulldozer.

There was a continuous Hoffman kiln with twenty two chambers, capable of producing 170,000 bricks per week, and two Scotch type open kilns, each capable of producing 20,000 bricks per week.

The drying and baking process in the electrically-powered kilns took around twelve days.

A brick-making machine. From the Christmas 1947 edition of the staff magazine "Yuletide".

Loading a kiln.  From the Christmas 1947 edition of the staff magazine "Yuletide".
Each chamber in the Hoffman kiln held around 18,500 bricks, each of which contained around one pint of water which had to be completely dried-out before firing.

This was done by blowing them with hot air. The final baking temperature was 960 degrees Fahrenheit. The total output in a good week was around 210,000 bricks per week.

At the time, the bricks were the cheapest and most efficient building material produced. They sold (ex-works) for less than one penny each, or around one pound per ton.

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