070318.Chilton Trinity, Chilton Tile Works

March 18, 2007 at 1:30 AM | Posted in Architecture, bricks, Chilton Trinity, countryside, somerset | 13 Comments

Hope I’m not trespassing too far into Taunton DP’s area of SW Somerset here but this was interesting. The local stone around Bridgwater is somewhat insubstantial with a high clay content but this abundant clay is perfect for brick. (See below the two walls forming the shed corner, hung with pantiles made of the same clay (and probably at the same factory) as the bricks. Actually, the tiles were probably from Chilton Tile Works while the bricks were from one of the Bridgwater companies.)
The last tile manufacturer to open in the Bridgwater area was on Square Road in Chilton Trinity (See below…the old photo is from the Somerset Brick and Tile Museum in Bridgwater, Somerset). It was opened with modern machines and up to date technology to compete again cheap French imports using new techniques. [1]
“The Chilton Tile Factory Production of Holnestead and Somerset Interlocking Tiles:
This factory when finished cost ₤850 with an extension in 1933 costing a further 35,000 [I have no idea if that is a mistake or it was a big*** extension.] It employed one hundred men and there was a good and continuous employment until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.
“The mechanical excavation of lay was regarded by other man-facturers (sic) as revolutionary. In a few years, it was accepted by all after they had said that the only way to win clay was by land and spade. Mechanical excavation proved necessary for survival as more and more different factories were coming to Bridgwater” [2]
Belief that the tile industry would boom at the end of the war due to the amount of bomb damage proved deceptive. The tile market in 1939, was divided between 93% clay, 3% concrete, and 4% other. In 1953, however, matters for the tile industry had turned on their heads with 89% of the tiles purchased being concrete, 4% clay, and 7% other. [3]
Why and how had this happened? Certain deficiencies in all local tiles, such as Bridgwater affected the loss of clay tile appeal. For instance, the local Bridgwater clay is of exceptional quality but the water content washed in with the clay contains chloride and calcium sulfate, which have a negative effect on the finished tiles, ultimately causing disfiguring holes or efflorescent discoloration (which is brick work is a sign of other water problems). Other nail in the coffin for the clay tile industry was a storm on the 16th of January 1959 that struck England and Wales with arctic wave of rain and frost. This one storm damaged over five million tiles.

1. Catherine Wells. The Bridgwater Brick and Tile Industry. Thesis, Croydon College of Art and Design, 1982-1984. P 15
2. Ibid, 12
3. Ibid, 15


It’s still here….but now divided into a carpet warehouse, etc.


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. J-Boy!

    Too far into Taunton’s territory? What, the flower and tree territory? Are you kidding? LOL! (Hi Mark!) 😉

    Don’t worry…you have the monopoly on brick and mortar!


    He DID just post a tree with bricks imbedded in it the other day…can you please explain THAT ONE DEARY? 😉

    And how DO you retain all this historical INFO J! I know…it was that pumpkin you were wearing on your head in your old “about me” page….yep yep yep, that’s IT!

    What did you have for breakfast?
    ;)xo miss you…

  2. Are both sets of brick original, or is only the uneven brick from Bridgwater while the “normal” brick is from somewhere else? And what is the dillyo with leaving the obvious “E” out of “Bridgwater?” When did English-speakers decide they needed an “E” to denote a soft “G?”

  3. You can sneak photos out of my area anytime James!
    Ame, I don’t ONLY do flowers you know!!!

    Josy, the missing ‘e’ IS confusing, caught me out when I first came here, how about another of our towns ‘Frome’ not pronounced as in ‘Rome’ but like ‘room’ – how is anyone meant to know that!?!?!

    As for Nempnet Thrubwell… I can only hope I get that one right!

  4. Uh-huh…I KNOW “Mountainboy”…I KNOW! 😉

    Ignore this James & JC…go to your rooms!

  5. […] hope that wasn’t influenced by the warehouse factories on the bank. The question came up in yesterday’s post, why the lack of an ‘e.’ The town centre contains West Quay, which faces the River Parret and it’s east bank of East […]

  6. JC, the bricks that look like bricks are bricks…bridgwater bricks
    the ‘bricks’ that you think look rougher are a rough high-clay-content sandstone (i think).

    MB, thanks for the visa permission. it took me a long time to get down to your neck of the woods so i plan to exploit it

    ame, ha! can’t stop me….i have internet in the room, so there….

  7. BAD BOY!

  8. Whoops. Thanks for defining the difference between a brick and a lump of stone.

  9. Hi, nice little article.

    I grew up in Chilton Trinity and (mis)spent much of my youth playing in and around the Brickyard (or ‘the factory’ as it is known locally). The main 3 storey extent of the building was demolished around 1995-96 IIRC, leaving only the areas you have photographed (which are used by various businesses). The bottom floor of the whole building was inaccessible, but as kids we would climb on the lower roofs and get in through the upper windows. Looking back it was obviously very dangerous, as there were no lights, holes in the floor where staircases had been removed, open lift shafts, rusting ladders and walkway etc. Fascinating place for a small boy!!

    The large pits used to supply the clay are to the north, which are now flooded. The ‘current’ Brickyard is actually a replacement for an older brickyard which was located slightly to the west next to the River Parrett. The only remains of this earlier works are the former owner’s cottage (called Brickyard Cottage – incidentally the house I grew up in), a small building and bits of foundations. Parts of the moorings on the banks of the River are still there, slowly being reclaimed by the mud.


  10. One other thing. The photo at the top of the page shows a building with one wall of traditional red brick (left side). The right hand side looks like its constructed of rough cut Otter Sandstone
    (probably quarried at nearby Wembdon). It was the material of choice for the older buildings in the area, prior to the start of the brick industry.

    The Bridgwater bricks, on the other hand, were manufactured from the Estuarine alluvium which covers the River Parrett flood plain.


  11. Why the muzzel?

  12. Dear Phil W,

    Thanks for that information–fascinating! I was just visiting there one day but I wish I had your info beforehand.
    Take care.

  13. We’re a group of volunteers and starting a
    new scheme in our community. Your site offered us with valuable info to work on. You’ve done an impressive job and
    our entire community will be thankful to you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: