Brick Making near Blockley
by Frank Johnson
My wife and I bought our first house in 1953. It was a semi-detached at South Kenton, Middlesex, close to the train station. Across the line was a large open green space, Northwick Park, adjacent to the main line north out of Euston
After several other moves we bought a house at Blockley where, unexpectedly, we were reminded of that first Northwick experience. Local village names were those we recalled having seen on street names when we lived at South Kenton.
The connection was Northwick Brick.
Between 1683 – 1912 the Northwick Estate, near Blockley, had been in the ownership of the Rushouts. In 1912 on the death of Lady Rushout, widow of the 3rd Baron Northwick, the estate was left to her grandson, Captain George Spencer-Churchill.
Concerned for the employment of villagers, Spencer-Churchill engaged a team of geologists who discovered a large quantity of clay excellent for making bricks.
In 1925 Northwick Brick was established
To provide land for the growing need for housing in the 1930s a large part of Northwick Park in Middlesex was sold by Spencer-Churchill on condition that bricks for the development should be supplied by Northwick Brick. This ensured employment for the people of Blockley and surrounding area at a difficult period. Village names subsequently featured in the development.
At this time, because of the high-quality bricks being produced, the demand was growing for them to be included in many prestigious projects, including Battersea Power Station. Production was halted during the Second World War but was resumed when hostilities ceased and Northwick Brick continued to operate until it came under new ownership in 1952 when it was renamed Northcot Brick.
Today, nearly 100 years later clay is still being quarried to make bricks by hand and machine, including the restoration of Battersea Power Station, further emphasising the richness of the north Cotswolds in Designing and Making.