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Staff and history of Bursledon Brickworks [Part 2]

Bursledon Brickworks
1. All steamed up at Bursledon Brickworks [Part 1]
2. Staff and history of Bursledon Brickworks [Part 2]
3. Wrapping it up at Bursledon Brickworks [Part 3]

Last time we heard how Bob came to be a volunteer at the Bursledon Brickworks Museum after taking early retirement. Now we look at some of the museum’s history and the staff that keep it running.

Bob Palmer, elbow grease is extra.

I assume that steam power is an essential element of the brickworks.
Yes, and when it finally closed in 1974, it was the last surviving steam driven brickworks in the UK.

Extract from The Brickworks Museum at Bursledon – and history and guide:
There were a number of factors that contributed to the brickworks closure. Among them, the building of M27 motorway effectively divided the site into two. That onitss own was not sufficient reason to stop production as there were a number of bridges available, and by that time most of the clay was being brought in from the pits by aerial ropeway. A second, and probably more important, reason, was the difficulty in obtaining suitable clay for the quality of bricks that were in demand. The final straw was most likely to have been the 1974, Health and Safety at Work act. The brickworks had not been updated significantly since being founded in 1897 and the cost to comply with the act was not considered a viable business proposition.
Bridge over the M27 motorway leading to the bursledon brickworks museum
M27 Motorway bridge
Model of aerial ropeway in the main brickworks museum
Model of aerial ropeway in the main brickworks museum

Remains of the original aerial ropeway
What remains of the original aerial ropeway.

Remains of the original aerial ropeway

Remains of the original aerial ropeway

Presumably, it then fell into a state of disrepair for some time?
Yes, it declined quite rapidly. When we had the really bad storm of 1987, several roofs were lost, and the old boilers were exposed to the elements for quite a few years. The old Lancashire boiler survived, just. It was more solidly built, using boilerplate metal for its outer cladding, rather than the sheet metal used on the later oil-fired one. You wouldn’t use it today, mind you.

Lancashire steam boiler
The Lancashire Boiler which provided the steam for much of the Bursledon Brickworks before being upgraded.

Lancashire steam boiler

How long did it stay like that?
It came to the point where the Hampshire Building Preservation Trust [HBPT] took over the southern complex for a token sum of £1. With it came a dowry of £700,000 from English Heritage, which had been awarded, along with its Grade 2 listing, to assist in the initial restoration of the site. Part of the money went towards repairing roofs and installing a new modern boiler.

Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust banner
Hampshire Buildings Preservation Trust

When was the boiler replaced?
That was in 1997. When I joined in 2013 the museum had just been granted a three-part heritage lottery grant. One part went towards new metal stairways to replace the old wooden ones, these are now designated fire escapes hence the need to change them. They also made the site more accessible, by adding a wheelchair lift inside, and created an education area.

Modern fulton boiler for bursledon brickworks museum
Current boiler which replaced the old Lancashire in 1997
Examples of the metal stairways paid for from the lottery grant.
Examples of the metal stairways paid for from the Heritage Lottery grant.

Examples of the metal stairways paid for from the lottery grant.

Another part of the grant went towards new Interpretation boards. All those signs around the site letting the public know what things are etc.

Wheelchair lift to first-floor museum exhibits.
Typical interpretation board at bursledon brickworks museum
Typical interpretation board

Another important investment, via the lottery money, was to pay for three part-time members of staff for three years. The project manager [Carolyne Haynes] and a collections manager [Mary Flinn], both of whom are still with us. They also took on a volunteer coordinator, but he left part way through, and Mary took that over as part of her job. We also have a canteen manager [Charlotte]. So three part-time, one day a week, paid for staff, and the rest of us are all volunteers.

Carolyn Haynes Project manager at bursledon brickworks museum
Carolyn Haynes [Project Manager]
Mary Flinn Collections Manager at bursledon brickworks museum
Mary Flinn [Collections Manager]
headshot portrait of Charlotte canteen manager at bursledon brickworks museum
Charlotte [Cafe Manager]
How is it decided which items get renovated or worked on?
We are constantly considering ideas for the future, some of which are probably wishful thinking, but it’s always good to have something to aim for. For instance, the roof over the kiln area needs to be replaced and there’s no drainage for it either. One idea is to create a lake for the roof to drain into and then pose the mechanical diggers, currently situated at the road end of the car park as if they have just done the work. That’s on the long-term wish list at the moment. We’ve no idea when or even if it will actually happen of course – there are so many other projects popping up – many of them remedial.

Out of commision diggers at bursledon brickworks museum
Down but not out. The diggers which are hoped to be used for a future display.

Out of commision diggers at bursledon brickworks museum

Out of commision diggers at bursledon brickworks museum

Out of commision diggers at bursledon brickworks museum

Next time we wrap it all up with engine number two and what the future might hold
Web Links and References of interest

Brickworks Museum

Friends of the Brickworks Museum

Bursledon Brickworks Facebook page

Bursledon Brickworks Twitter page

Hampshire Building Preservation Trust

Weekend Passions


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