cwmbwergwm
Industrial Wales
The Brickworks of Wales
Monmouthshire - The Western Valley to Beaufort and Brynmawr
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Rogerstone and Risca

Ty'n-y-Cwm, Pontymister - ST 2550 8985

Ty'n-y-Cwm brickworks appears on the 1917 OS map but houses are being built on the site by 1938, also the site of Terry Howells sawmills. It is probably the site known as Rogerstone brickworks. The 'Rogerstone Brick and Stone Co Ltd' had an agreement with the GWR for sidings near Risca Station agreed between July 1906 and Nov 1918 and there was a notable legal case regarding a mortgage in 1919 when the company may have gone bankrupt. This may be the site of a mystery brickworks, Twym Brickworks, operating from c1849 to c1861 by William Brain, a grocer from Machen, possibly related to Abraham Brain of Darren Brickworks. He went bankrupt in 1861 and his business was auctioned.

Danygraig, Risca - ST 2355 9070

The Union Copper Co opened the Danygraig copper works in 1807 on the site of Roman lead mines, becoming a chemical works run by David Morris in 1816. A further change of use occurred after 1892 and saw it become Edwin Southwood Jones' brickworks. Southwood Jones also owned Graig-ddu brickworks in Cwmnantddu, Eastern Valley. The works is still in operation in 2018 for pre-cast concrete products but will be closing imminently for more housing.

Waunfawr, Risca - ST 2305 9105

Originally Russells Brickworks as part of the colliery complex, it became part of the Star Brick Co empire by the 1930s. I've not come across a 'Star Risca' brick though 'National Star' bricks exist with the letters 'RC' for Risca.

The five Darren Valley brickworks, Risca

There were five separate sets of brick kilns in the Darren Valley, one for the 'Risca Brickworks', three for the 'Darren Brickworks, Risca' and one for the Cwmbyr brickworks.

Risca Brickworks - ST 2339 9164

Risca Brickworks was above the canal and linked to Darran Colliery and a number of clay levels. The site is now a cafe and caravan park but there are many things to see around here if you ask nicely. This was the longest-lasting of the Darren area brickworks, opening around 1830 and possibly closing as late as 1942. Originally it was leased by Joseph Nicholas with Jervis Johnson joining him by 1846. It was managed by G Nicholas in 1878 and by A Johnson in 1884. Nicholas and Johnson also owned Rudry Brickworks and Colliery. Jayne and James Jones of the Darren brickworks took over in 1893.

Darren Brickworks - ST 2342 9153
second 1843 brickyard - ST 2345 9205

Below the canal bridge was Darren Brickworks, with one set of kilns beside the canal from before 1843 which were replaced by another set next to the railway by 1917. It was probably disused by the early 1920s though the kilns are still shown on the 1938 map. The site is mainly buried underneath the new Darren Road and a new industrial unit so hard to see anything now. The earliest recorded owners, Abraham Brain and Job Price are listed on the c1843 Tithe map along with a brickyard higher up the valley. Abraham Brain moved to Randolph, New York State in 1857 where he established a brickyard. Sadly his wife Hannah Bryant died shortly after landing in NYC. He may be related to William Brain of the mysterious Twym Brickworks.

A rough time line of ownership :-
1843 - Abraham Brain and Job Price
1858 - J Jones and Co
1868 - Francis Jones, Darran Fire Brick Works, Risca
1884 - Mrs J Jones, Darran Works, Risca, Newport
1893 - Jane and James Jones acquires Risca brickworks from Nicholas and Johnson
1908 - Jones Darren Fire Brick Works Ltd dissolved
1908 - Star Brick & Tile Co take over lease of the works but concentrated their business on the Waunfawr Brickworks and the two brickworks production was wound down.

There's a good range of different imprints used by the two brickworks, particularly under the Jones ownership. Those I know about are 'N&J Risca' (Nicholas and Johnson), 'Darran Risca', Darran Brick Works Risca', 'J Jones (Risca)' (either Jane or James Jones), 'Jones.Risca', 'Jones Risca', 'Jones Darran Risca' and 'Jones Darran No 1 Risca'..

Cwm-byr Brickworks - ST 2322 9162

The last of the string of brickworks from before 1882 but disused by 1917. I can find little about it and there's nothing to see there now as the area has been re-used. Some low foundations may be part of the brickworks. I've never seen a brick stamped 'Cwm-byr' either. It may actually have been part of one of the adjacent brickworks rather than a separate company.




Crumlin to Cwmtillery

Crumlin - ST 2036 9883

Davies Bros were the owners of Kendon Colliery and owned the brickworks by 1916 presumably to use a clay seam. It was shown on the 1938 OS map but it had closed by 1948.

Abertillery - SO 2196 0362

Tillery Brickworks was opened around 1891 shortly after the adjacent Vivian Colliery, owned by 'Powells Tillery', 'Ebbw Vale Co' and 'Partridge, Jones and Paton'. It appears on the 1899 map but not marked as a brickworks on the 1948 edition.

Cwmtillery - SO 2202 0573

Woodland brickworks was owned by Joseph Wallace to 1892, then Arthur Tilney who had retired by 1910. It isn't shown on the 1915 OS map. The photos of 'Cwmtylery' may be the reverse of Wallace and Tilney bricks.
Bricks for 'E G Smith Co Abertillery' and 'Weaver Abertillery', if not owners or partners, are likely to have been made here on a contract basis.




Blaina and Brynmawr

Blaina

The earliest kilns (1) in Blaina were at SO 1980 0860 in 1880. They had gone by 1901 when two sets of kilns were in operation. The smaller set of kilns (2) were at SO 2000 0860 and a larger set (3) at SO 1970 0885. By 1938 only the smaller set (2) were shown on the OS map and that too had gone by 1948.
Who owned what is unclear but they seem to be connected with North Blaina Colliery. This was opened in 1860 by the Nantyglo & Blaina Company Ltd, being known as The Rising Sun Pit. By 1877 the colliery was owned by Morgan & Williams, and later acquired by the brothers, J and W Stone being known as Stones Pit from 1883. J Lancaster & Co had taken over by 1913 and the colliery closed around 1923.

Brynmawr - SO 1945 1190

Shown on the 1877 and 1899 OS maps but not labelled as brickworks by 1904. The site was cleared by 1920. It may have been connected with 'Vaughan' as this partial brick found at Wildens Wireworks appears to read 'Vaughan Brynmawr'.




Ebbw Vale and Beaufort

Ebbw Vale

Ebbw Vale is the home of the giant Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Co. who ran three brickworks there. The earliest brick kilns were at Newtown, SO 1715 0980, known as the old brickyard and had closed by 1920. The New Brickyard at Willowtown, SO 1625 0990, was in existence in 1880 but had been greatly expanded by 1901. In 1907 EVSIC built a third brickworks near the Gantre, SO 1655 1020, (sometimes also known as Willowtown) and total production reached 14 million bricks a year. Both Gantre and Willowtown appear to have closed in the late 1960s.

Beaufort - SO 1650 1195

Beaufort brickworks opened c1908 and first appears on the 1915 OS map labelled 'Brick & Pipe Works'. The works produced a great many bricks, found all over South Wales, until closing in the 1970s.




Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

A great many people have supplied information and photos of Monmouthshire's brickworks and their bricks, so many thanks to (alphabetically) Graham Bennett, Ian Cooke, Steve Davies, Andrew Harvard, Tracey Hucker, Mike Kilner, Jamie Larke, Norman Lowe, Richard Paterson, Ian Pickford, Dave Sallery, Lawrence Skuse, Mike Stokes, Gareth Thomas, www.tredegar.co.uk, 'Risca - its Industrial and Social Development' by Alan Victor Jones

The Penmorfa website is the best source of info on bricks and brickworks in the UK :-

For very good coverage of Scottish bricks and quite a bit about other places too :-

There is a specialist society for brick history :-

There's also a 'Facebook' group for bricks and brickworks :-


All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins