• York Rotary

Visit to York Hand Made Brick Company Ltd

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

Nigel Naish reports....

On November 3rd fourteen members visited this brick factory near Easingwold.

The company was previously Alne Brickwork Co. when it was bought in 1988 by David Armitage, and is located in Forest Lane, Alne. It was also formerly a pipeworks with excellent clay resources on site which had been utilised for brick-making since the 1930s. The new company applied for an extension to its quarrying area and in 1998, a 25-year operation started that would yield over 500,000 tonnes of clay from the land surrounding the works.

Pictured talking to our group in their reception area, David, the fifth generation of the Armitage brick making family, welcomed the group and gave a brief introduction before handing over to his colleague Denis Throup who took us round the factory explaining how the clay is all mined from within the 30 acre site, to a depth of 50 feet.

The clay is then processed, mulched, squeezed and pummelled by a variety of machines. Sand is added, giving the required colour, then conveyor belts take it on to the point where it is moulded by hand; then to a drying plant to extract most of the water, and finally to be baked in kilns.

The tour ended with a look at the huge stacks of many different coloured bricks of all shapes and sizes.

We were full of admiration at what the company has achieved and how it has plans to expand production in the near future. The state of our footwear bore gooey evidence of our slip-sliding encounter with the raw materials, and had to be wiped clean as we drove off to lunch at The Blue Bell in Alne.

Additional bits and pieces.....

Press article about Denis Throup's retirement...

Wikipedia has the following information:

Besides having its bricks used in buildings such as The Shard and London Bridge railway station, the company's London Yellow bricks are also used for housebuilding in the Greater London area, which saw York Handmade produce over 130,000 bricks for this market. A contract in 2010 to supply 400,000 bricks for Chetham's School of Music was valued at over £500,000.

The company have also supplied bricks for repairing bridges over the River Swale in North Yorkshire, larger bricks to repair the city walls of Rostok in Germany and they have also been exported to America and Japan. One of their most expensive brick creations was for the One Molyneux Street housing complex in Marylebone in London. Each brick cost £793, with 116,000 being used in the construction. According to one property journalist, the bricks are the second most expensive ever created.

In 2014, the company was asked to supply 47,000 bricks for a restoration project at Dumfries House in Ayrshire. The bricks themselves resembled the ones used at Hampton Court Palace and were designed by Prince Charles.

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