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Ridgmont Brickworks Brogborough

Ridgmont Brickworks was built by Ridgmont Fletton Brick Company, a subsidiary of Marston Valley Brick Company in 1935. In 1936 the two companies merged. It had twenty five chimneys and was said to be the second largest brickworks in the World.

The works had its own 2 foot and 2 foot 5½ inch gauge locomotive-hauled railway systems. Later the section between the brickworks and the clay pit was converted to 2 feet 6 inch cable-hauled railway. This was simply a line of trucks linked by a cable which drove continuously round.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the brickworks, on 17th March 1936 [DV1/X197/45] noted that it was owned by Fletton Brick Company. “Saw son of Manager, had brickworks brought into use during current work. 4 Kilns at present in use will increase throughout 12 months. Clay got at bottom of Brogborough Hill and conveyed by overhead conveyor over hill to Brickworks near Ridgmont Station. Called at office of Marston Valley Brick Company: was promised output of above works. Ridgmont Flettons is subsidiary company”.

On 27th March he noted: “No output received” and had to estimate it. On this he came up with a rateable value which was successfully challenged by the company.

The new brickworks led to building of a new settlement at Brogborough This influx of new people also had an impact on Ridgmont Council School. An inspection report for May 1938 [E/IN1/1], noted: "Since January 1938 45 children have been admitted, and the number on books is now 82, though 6 have left in the same period. The growth is due to a development of Housing at Brogborough, largely no doubt because of the new brickworks: the children come mainly from Peterborough; Newcastle; South Wales; and other Bedfordshire villages".

"The staff, formerly Head Teacher plus Supply Teacher, both of whom are good Teachers whose work has always been very praiseworthy, has been increased by a second Supply Teacher, who has come back to Teaching after a lapse of some years. There is some evidence that she may not be well equipped enough to cater for all the needs of the 27 5 and 6 [year old] children in her Infants class, especially as regards Reading and Speech".

"The top class contains children behind standard in attainment but for the most part mentally alert: the Teaching is careful and skilful and they are responding well – progress is evident".

"The Teacher of the second class was absent but is, also, doing sound work in rather difficult circumstances".

In 1971 London Brick Company took over Marston Valley Brick Company and in 1978 the cable railway was replaced by a conveyor belt. The brickworks closed in the early 1980s before London Brick Company was taken over by Hanson Trust. Since 1998 the site has been occupied by an area of warehousing, Marston Gate Distribution Centre, just north of Junction 13 of the M1, including the huge Amazon warehouse [PCBrogborough18].