Report - The London Brick Company/ Stewartbys/ April 2014

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The Lone Shadow

Industrial Fanatic!
28DL Full Member
Aug 3, 2013
The Explore
I explored with Unplugged. Entry to the site was relatively easy because of the enormous size of it. Most of it has been demolished and is rubble and wasteland. Four giant chimneys still remain, so do the kilns and a few factories all of which are heavily guarded from vandals and explorers by rows of razor fences, therefore entry to any building onsite is a little more tricky. One of the building also had cement dust 4 inches thick in places.
It was a great explore, with a fair bit to see. We found various documents dating back to the 30’s, 50’s and 60’s and a newspaper dated 1990, with a World Cup 1990 pull out inside. There is also the odd bit of machinery lying around.
There was an onsite security cabin towards the main gate, whether it was manned or was unknown, but we kept out of view either way. As we decided to leave for the day there was a security van that pulled up onsite. Somebody must’ve known we were there as the security van drove up and down scanning the areas for intruders; we hid at first and then decided to make a break for it.

John Cathles Hill was the instigator of the Bedford brick movement. In 1889 he bought a small brick business T.W. Hardy and Sons near Peterborough and towards 1900 this was to eventually evolve into what we know as The London Brick Company. The depression of the early 20th century affected the company and in 1912 they fell into financial difficulties. In 1915, John Hill died and his son took over as CEO. After the First World War there were a few mergers within the brick industry as London Brick and B.J. Forder merged in 1923 they traded under the name of L.B.C & Forders. Throughout the 1920’s L.B.C and Forders acquired many other brick making companies, giving them dominance over others in the industry. In 1926 The London Brick Company moved to its site in Stewartbys after Sir Malcolm Stewart brought the company. The surrounding village of Stewartby was built in order to house the workers of the company. In the 1930’s the company achieved enormous growth, in 1931 the yearly brick output was estimated at 1,000,000,000. Subsequently in 1935 it produced 1,500,000,000 which at the time; was 60% of the brick industry. In 1939 just before the Second World War it was producing 1,750,000,000 a year. After The Second World War in the 1950’s many Italian families moved to Befordshire and Bletchley to look for work within some of its warehouses. This is also the reason why to this day Bedford has a relatively large Italian community. The post war house boom caused the sale of bricks to increase yet again reaching its peak in 1967. By this time The London Brick Company was at its strongest; it was the largest producer of bricks in the world with 167 brick chimneys, the largest kilns in the world, employing thousands of employees with its own ambulance and fire crew, photographic and horticultural departments also its own swimming pool and sports clubs inside the factory. Between 1968 and 1972 the company swallowed its 3 largest competitors to give it total monopoly of the Fletton market. In 1975 it was reported that it totalled 2,883,000,000 bricks which was equivalent to 43% of the total brick market. By the 1980’s the brick market was saturated and there was a decline in business, The London Brick Company had shown signs of overstretching itself. In 1984 Hanson plc acquired the company and trading continued throughout the rest of the 80’s and the 90’s albeit on a smaller scale than it had done previously. In the 2000’s regulations in emissions had begun to affect working processes. Between 2005 and 2007 the company spent over a £1 million trying to alter operations and processes so that Sulpher Dioxide emissions were brought down to UK regulatory levels. In 2008 Hanson plc ceased brick making operations at Stewartbys completely; due to them still being unable to match UK emissions regulations, even though the EU standards were matched. London bricks are still manufactured in Peterborough, but the Stewartbys site has mostly been demolished. Four of the original chimneys still remain along with the kilns and a few other factories and are grade 2 listed, the rest of the site is waiting sale for redevelopment. It is estimated that 5 millions houses in Britain alone are built from London Bricks.

Here are the pictures. I found a couple of extra old ones on the internet, thought I would share.

The Pictures



















Dated: September 21st 1937.


Documents from 1965, 1966 and 1968.



Thanks for reading.

The Lone Shadow.


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Nov 11, 2013
I haven't taken mine of the memory card yet ;)

was a good explore including hiding from security but what's an explore without drama. Still beating cement dust out now.

The Lone Shadow

Industrial Fanatic!
28DL Full Member
Aug 3, 2013
Thanks guys, it was an enjoyable explore and no I don't believe we entered the admin block. Was that a relatively modern looking building?
I remember seeing a newer building nearby, but thought it was part of a different company.



Got Epic?
Staff member
Nov 15, 2005
Suffolk / Birmingham
Admin is pretty well sealed up (with bricks incidentally!) and quite close to security.. Theres still lots to see here tho. Thought it was well worth two trips last autumn. Its just old fashioned!

The Lone Shadow

Industrial Fanatic!
28DL Full Member
Aug 3, 2013
Unplugged with all his technical experience recognised that being as Amstrad immediatley.
Until I saw the small print I would've had no idea what it was.
There were quite a few retro finds here, especially paperwork.
There are many blueprint documents, hand written and drawn that dated back as far the 1930's here.
There were instruction manuals for machine processors dated in the 1950's
Sickness notes, employees records and registers dated back in the 1960's which would've been during Stewartby's prime.
The place is amazing if you like reading things.

The Lone Shadow

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