SEPTEMBER 2019 GBF – KINGS DYKE BRICKWORKS
This month we celebrate the history of Kings Dyke’s
brick-making and environmental ventures
Kings Dyke, in Peterborough, has been in
continuous brick production since June
1969, when the works was brought into
operation. Established by the London Brick
Company, the plant initially produced 1.25 million
bricks per week, a fi gure that doubled with the
construction of a second kiln two years later.
Forterra acquired the brickworks in 1984.
The bricks are made from Lower Oxford Clay
from the Jurassic Period, sourced on site at Must
Farm Quarry. Running in a vein across England,
from Yorkshire to Dorset, this clay is unique for
its self-burning quality, making it an especially
effi cient raw material.
The Whittlesey region of Cambridgeshire
has a rich brickmaking heritage dating back to
the 19th century; a small brickworks producing
London Brick was present on the site now
occupied by Kings Dyke as far back as 1877.
Today, Kings Dyke’s four kilns and three
chimneys – one of which stands at 400 metres
and is one of the tallest in Europe – continue to
dominate the local landscape.
Environmental responsibility and sustainable
Kings Dyke’s practices. The works was built 70
clay pit, which held two major economic
and environmental advantages. Firstly, it was
unobtrusive and caused minimal disturbance to
the surrounding countryside. Secondly, it covered
land which had already been ‘worked’, which
saved up to 15 acres of clay-bearing land.
Forterra has upheld this tradition of
commitment to maintaining the local area.
Kings Dyke Nature Reserve was established in
1995 for the benefi t of local residents and schools
and has been regularly extended since. Prior to
work commencing, a comprehensive ecological
survey was undertaken to determine key habitat
and wildlife features that were already present.
One of the key aims of the design was to
preserve the existing interest and develop it in
such a way that the existing biodiversity could
be enhanced. However, as a community resource,
it was also important that local people were able
to access the site without disturbing the wildlife
interests, so carefully thought-out thoroughfares
Now produced solely by Forterra, London
Brick has been in production for over 140
years. The bricks feature an iconic ‘frog’, which
Stephen Harrison, chief executive of Forterra,
employees. Kings Dyke is a brickworks rooted
in heritage, where the distinctive London Brick
is exclusively produced today: a sustainable and
durable product whose enduring popularity is
testament to its reputation.”
Forterra is still today a leading manufacturer
of concrete and clay building products. The
company employs approximately 1,900 people
in the UK, across 18 manufacturing facilities.
One of the three chimneys
at the Kings Dyke site is
amongst the tallest in Europe
Have you got a factory you think should feature in this column?
allows them to burn more quickly and evenly,
forefront of innovation, family and tradition
have remained constant, with many second
generation employees amongst the staff – my
own son has worked here for the last decade.
Kings Dyke is truly unique for the fact it’s the
only works still producing the original London
Brick – long may it continue.”
says: “As we celebrate 50 years since the opening
of Kings Dyke, we recognise the commitment
of a great many of the site’s long-serving
production methods have always been integral to
feet below ground level on the fl oor of a workedallows
adding to their environmental credentials.
The brand, whose heritage is closely linked
to economic regeneration due to its role in
post-war housebuilding, continues to be used
almost exclusively for residential renovation,
maintenance and improvement today.
Andrew Mortlock is Kings Dyke’s resident
London Brick Archivist and has worked on the
site for the last 45 years. He says: “Naturally, I’ve
seen a great many changes at Kings Dyke over
the years, with coal-fi red kilns and hand lifting
giving way to countless increases in automation.
“While the works has always been at the