Brickmaking in Riseley
Bedfordshire and Luton Archive and Record Service has some notes made by a former member of staff on brick and tile making in Riseley [CRT130Riseley2]. The first reference he could find was in 1558 when the will of Thomas Heatley mentioned "the tyle yard with pitts" [ABP/R13f154d] so evidently tiles were being made in the parish, the pits being where they would have been fired.
In 1626 Claypit Furlong in East Field is mentioned in a property survey; the clay presumably being dug out for brickmaking. A terrier of church property of 1706 [ABE1] refers to Brick Kiln Hedge and, once more, to the pits in East Field. In 1770 brickmaker John Love married Mary Presland [P50/1/9].
Riseley was inclosed in 1796 and the award [A24] has three brickmaking mentions: Tile Yard Close; Clay Pitt Hill and Brick Kiln Close. The latter is described as containing a plot measuring 2 acres, 37 poles bounded north-east, south-east and part south-west by the sixteenth allotment of Lord Saint John and on the remaining part of the south-west by the seventeenth allotment to Lord Saint John. The plot was worth £2/15/- per annum and was awarded to William Etches. The close, later marked as a brick and tile works on the 1st edition 6 inches to the mile Ordnance Survey map of 1884, is shown on the site of the playing fields of today's Margaret Beaufort School. The main difference is that the building shown on the inclosure map is on the road, rather than in the field as shown on the later map.
In 1801 F. Etches, brickmaker, assisted in repairs to the vicarage. In 1842 brickmaker, farmer and miller James Lugsden senior made his will [ABP/W1842/28]. In 1875 a brickyard and cottage adjoining the George Public House was for sale by auction [WG2458]. It was described as standing in the north end of the village with a frontage of 93 feet to the high road and brick yard lane, being bounded north and east by property of Lord Saint John.
19th century directories reveal the following brickmakers:
- Samuel Bailey (1847, 1854, 1862, 1864);
- William Valentine (1847);
- Joseph Valentine (1862);
- John William Love (1877, 1885, 1890) – he was also a drain pipe maker and lime burner but in 1894 was described as a farmer living at The Grange and was no longer a brickmaker, there being no others mentioned after 1890.