Cliffe Brick Works

A red, Cliffe, Gt Harwood brick

From "A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Great Harwood".1
"Cliffe Quarry, Brick and Terra Cotta Co., Ltd., formed 1897 ........ ....... previously worked by Eatough & Greenwood. .......... ........ was short lived and in 1905 the works closed.
Remains: Quarry off Blackburn Old Road, now used for caravan parking."

From an Alsprings Estate Farm Rent Ledger2
"lease for 10 years from 2/2/1896
assigned over to the Cliffe Quarry Brick and Terra Cotta Co Ltd from June 1897
1904 This tenancy now ceases, Quarry now unlet, not being worked"

It seems the works was something of a landmark in its time:
" ........................ Proceed along this road till you arrive at group of cottages with public-house called "Lord Nelson Inn," and then take upward path opposite the inn, through stile and over field with plantation on top. From this point you can discern ahead two or three tall chimneys, belonging to the Cliff Brick and Tile Works, Harwood. Make directly for these, either by the path on the side of the reservoir, .................... "3

The unearthing of the above brick by Michael Eddleston produced a goodly amount of comment in The Great Harwood Appreciation Society regarding the place of its manufacture and on Sunday, 30th Jan, 2005 we went to have a look at what we were told was the kiln of Cliffe Brick Works.

Dean Lane, Great Harwood





The operation seems to have involved workings on both sides of Dean Lane at its junction with Blackburn Old Road and Cliffe Lane. Shale, which was crushed for brick making, was taken from the west side of the lane and is also where the "works" were. Clay for the terra cotta, it seems, was dug from pits in an old sandstone quarry to the east.

The 1932 OS map shows three "lodges" , flooded pits, to the east ( clay pits? ) and another to the north of the shale quarry west of Dean Lane.

1932 map of brick works

The map also shows several buildings still on the site, "ours" is in area 163.

a lodge


On the left is a photo of one of the lodges in the field east of Dean Lane and below is the field as it was in 2005 with the lodges filled in.

the lodge filled in 2005
Blackburn Old Road, Great Harwood





Blackburn Old Road from the end of Dean Lane.
The cricket field is behind the stone wall on the left and the Cliffe Brick Works is behind the higher stone wall on the right.

shale bank

This bank is the edge of the shale quarry.
Below is a shot from the top of the quarry, which isn't very deep, showing most of its area.

caravan park in the quarry

north wall of the "kiln"

Above, from the north and overgrown, is a dark wall. Below, catching a bit more light, is another wall from the south.

south wall of the "kiln"

"kiln" from above

from above

entrance to the "kiln"

The "kiln" entrance,

inside the "kiln"

and inside.






This is outside our area of expertise but the walls seem to be of concrete where maybe some kind of fire brick would be expected but their thickness does suggest a need for insulation.





But is it a kiln?


other buildings on the site

Remains of some less substantial walls on the south side of the 'kiln'. In the foreground is the camera shy John Simpson who showed us around.

Below is a photo taken November 2006 after some clearing of vegetation.

"kiln" in 2006

Further enquiries lead us to believe this wasn't a kiln ( we always thought it was a bit narrow4 ) but a machine bed

but for what machine?





1 A Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Great Harwood, Michael Rothwell, Hyndburn Local History Society, 1980. Page 17
2 As spelt on the ledger. (Thanks to Mr. J. M. Trappes-Lomax and to Kevin Lambert of Watson Ramsbottom Partnership, Solicitors, Great Harwood)
3 Pleasant Walks Around Blackburn, with Observations By The Way, Illustrated By Pen and Camera. By Thos. Johnson c1900
4 Yes we did but with absolutely no knowledge of brick making we simply didn't know one way or the other.

Last updated 17th April 2020 by ifinwig
Any rights I can claim are. Any rights belonging to others aren't