The London Brick Company
'London brick' redirects here. For the type of building brick, see London stock brick
|Private (subsidiary of Hanson plc)|
|Products||Bricks and paviors|
The London Brick Company owes its origins to John Cathles Hill, a developer-architect who built houses in both London and Peterborough. In 1889, Hill bought the small T.W.Hardy & Sons brickyard at Fletton near Peterborough and it was this business that was incorporated as the London Brick Company in 1900. The generic name “Fletton” is given to bricks made from lower Oxford Clay giving them a low fuel cost due to the carbonaceous content of the clay.
Hill ran into financial difficulties and in 1912 a receiver was appointed to run London Brick. Hill died in 1915 but after the receiver was discharged in 1919, Hill's son continued to run the Company.
The capital-intensive fletton brick industry suffered from substantial variations in demand and after the First War amalgamations were proposed. In 1923, London Brick merged with Malcolm Stewart's B.J. Forder, along with London Brick, one of the four main groupings in the fletton industry. The new Company, for a while called L.B.C. & Forders,went on to acquire other brick firms in the late 1920s, giving it a dominant position in the fletton industry. By 1931 the Company was producing 1,000m bricks a year in 1935 output exceeded 1,500m bricks or 60 per cent of the fletton industry output, and the peak pre-war output reached 1,750m bricks.
Reflecting the post-war housing boom, fletton brick sales increased, reaching a peak in 1967. Brick sales declined subsequently and the Company diversified. London Brick Land Fill was formed and began the tipping of household and industrial refuse into the old clay pits in the Marston Vale area: London Brick Landfill was merged into Shanks Group in 1988. Between 1968 and 1971 The London Brick Company also bought its three remaining fletton competitors (including the Marston Valley Brick Company) to give it a total monopoly of the fletton market. Its brick sales in 1973 totalled 2,883m or 43 per cent of the total brick market.
The company was acquired by Hanson plc in 1984. In Feb 2008, Hanson closed brickmaking operations at Stewartby in Marston Vale owing to problems meeting UK sulphur emission regulations, even though it met the EU regulations. Production of the London Brick is now concentrated at Peterborough, while the Marston Vale site is being redeveloped for housing and the new Hanson HQ building is also relocated there.
Many Italian families from the southern regions of Apulia and Campania came to Bedford in the 1950s to work in the Stewartby brickworks in Marston Vale and Peterborough to work in the Fletton brickworks. As well as Bedford and Peterborough, many Italian families also settled in Bletchley to work in its Newton Longville factory. Although not as many Italians settled in Bletchley as they did in Bedford or Peterborough, there is still a substantial community there.