Jackson's Brick Works

J & A Jackson Ltd, Windmill Lane,
Denton, Lancashire

History
Ordnance Survey maps of Denton show that there was a brick works on the south side of Windmill Lane early in the 20th century. In 1922 this was owned John and Thomas Harrison and in the same year the company of J & A Jackson Ltd was incorporated. At this time the Harrison and Jackson families dominated brick making in the surrounding area. The two families were connected by marriage in 1904, when Elizabeth Harrison, the eldest daughter of Walter Harrison, married Joseph Jackson, son of the late Thomas Jackson, who died in 1901, but in spite of this the family companies continued to operate independently of each other.

Parish Church of St Mary, Cheadle, Cheshire 23 February 1904
NameAgeOccupationResidenceFather's
Name
Father's
Occupation
Thomas JACKSON23Brick MakerEast Street,
Longsight
Thomas JACKSON
(deceased)
Brick Maker
Elizabeth HARRISON22Lady Bridge Road,
Adswood, Cheadle
Walter HARRISONBrick Maker
The witnesses were Arthur JACKSON and Ann(e) JACKSON

Following this marriage, the next rational step was to unite the companies of the two families but this was not to come about until 1922.

J & A Jackson Ltd was incorporated on the 7 April 1922 and the directors were, Joseph Jackson (Chairman), John Harrison, Thomas Harrison Senior, Thomas Harrison Junior, Walter Harrison, James Harrison, Frederick Towns and J R Hesketh, the latter two directors being the solicitor and auditor, respectively. It will be seen that the Harrison family had a majority on the board and the position of Arthur Jackson, Joseph's brother, is uncertain. The last member of the Jackson family to be involved with running the company was Thomas Jackson who resigned as the company secretary in 1935.

At the time of incorporation the two families owned seven brick works between them. Joseph Jackson owned works at Chorlton and Levenshulme, John and Thomas Harrison owned works at Bredbury (Lingard Lane), Denton (Windmill Lane) and North Reddish (Harcourt Street), John Harrison owned one on Pink Bank Lane, Levenshulme, while Walter Harrison owned one at Adswood, Cheadle. The company's registered office was on Pink Bank Lane.

From the start, the company rapidly expanded and by 1948 it owned some 18 works in the Greater Manchester area. An associated brick works to the one in Denton was in neighbouring Audenshaw at the bottom of Enville Street and this was located in the angle formed by a fork in the London and North Western Railway for their Stockport and Guide Bridge and Denton and Dukinfield lines, respectively. The site severed Groby Road and Saxon Farm lay to the north. In 1957, Saxon Farm was demolished to enable more clay to be extracted.

Additionally, the company acquired works outside the area and ultimately there were two in Lancashire, four in Cheshire, two in Merseyside, one in Derbyshire at Glossop, one in the West Midlands and one in Essex.

In the early 1920s the company used Foden steam-driven lorries to deliver bricks and later these were supplemented and then replaced by petrol-driven lorries.

Due to the low carbon content of the local boulder clay used to make bricks, the kilns consumed an excessive amount of coal. To reduce the amount of coal used and as an aid to firing, waste shale was bought from nearby Bradford Colliery, which was then crushed to a powder at the Levenshulme works and then mixed in with the clay in the desired proportion. In some areas powdered anthracite was used instead. Either way, this additive was usually known as 'breeze'.

In 1973 ownership of J & A Jackson Ltd passed to Christian Salvesen, a private Scottish company, and its name was changed to Salvesen Brick Ltd. In 1986 the parent company became Salvesen plc and nowadays the parent of this company is Norbert Dentressangle.

In 1994 Christian Salvesen decided to sell their brick manufacturing interests and this resulted in a management buy-out of Salvesen Brick Ltd. In 1995 the name was changed again to Chelwood Brick Ltd, a name coined from the company's location in Cheadle on Adswood Road.

The works of J & A Jackson Ltd on Windmill Lane, Denton, known locally as Jackson's Brick Works, is no longer extant and the huge clay pits have been filled in. However, Chelwood Brick Ltd still have a presence on the site, which is now known as Windmill Lane Spade Works and this stands on the corner of Windmill Lane and Denton Hall Farm Road. Bricks are still manufactured here but the raw materials are brought in from elsewhere. The name 'Spade Works' is derived from a medieval spade, believed to date from the 14th century, that was discovered when the site was first opened.

1901 Census
Thomas Jackson, North Road, Longsight

NameHow RelatedStatusAgeOccupationWhere Born
Thomas JacksonHeadM59Brick MakerManchester, Lancs
Ann JacksonWifeM58Salford, Lancs
Ann JacksonDaurS25Cheetham, Lancs
Joseph JacksonSonS20Clay Worker, Brick
Making
Moss Side, Lancs
Arthur JacksonSonS18Clay Worker, Brick
Making
Moss Side, Lancs
Esther GrundyServantS19General Domestic
Servant
Hollingworth, Lancs

1901 Census
Walter Harrison, Broom Lane, Levenshulme

NameHow RelatedStatusAgeOccupationWhere Born
Walter HarrisonHeadM37Foreman Brick
Maker
Guide Bridge, Lancs
Harriet HarrisonWifeM38Droylsden, Lancs
Elizabeth HarrisonDaurS19Droylsden, Lancs
John Harrison†SonS18Brick MakerDroylsden, Lancs
Albert HarrisonSonS14Levenshulme, Lancs
Annie HarrisonDaurS12Droylsden, Lancs
James Walter
Harrison
SonS7Levenshulme, Lancs
George HarrisonSonS5Levenshulme, Lancs
Doris HarrisonDaurS4 moLevenshulme, Lancs

†Slater's Trade Directory of 1903 lists John Harrison as a brick maker with brick works at Broom Avenue (off Broom Lane), Levenshulme, and at Sandfold Lane, North Reddish.


Jackson's Brick Works.

Preparation of Green Bricks
The clay preparation area at Denton was at the back of the site, away from Windmill Lane, adjacent to the clay pits.

The raw clay was first crushed and mixed with water and additives, typically breeze to aid the firing. This process was know as pug milling and the machine used was a pugmill, which in essence was a large mincing machine incorporating a rotating screw fitted with blades whose purpose was to cut and knead the clay and, importantly, remove all the air trapped in the clay. The clay was first placed in a hopper attached to the mill, which was then tamped to force it into the rotating screw. By the time that the clay had passed to the end of the mill it was perfectly smooth with an even texture and colour and improved firing qualities. The clay was then extruded in a continuous strip through a rectangular aperture in the end of the pugmill onto a roller conveyer where it was wire sliced into brick-length blocks. In both section and length a green brick was larger than the size of a finished brick to allow for shrinkage during drying and firing. Alternatively, for small batches, the clay would be put into moulds or presses where it was formed into the required shape.

The green bricks then needed to be dried before they could be fired and this was usually done in special drying kilns. Alternatively, bricks could be placed in a drying shed where they dried naturally. The final stage was to fire the bricks in high-temperature kilns.

Brick manufactured by J & A Jackson Ltd.

Brick Kilns
The battery of kilns at Denton was at the front of the site facing Windmill Lane and they were intermittent or periodic kilns, each one consisting of a single firing chamber. In use, a kiln was loaded with a batch of green bricks, which were then fired and allowed to cool before it was unloaded and made ready for use again. A cycle usually took about a week to complete.

Three types of kiln were commonly in use and these were:

  1. Up-draught kilns where the heat travelled naturally by convection from the combustion chamber up through the bricks.
  2. Down-draught kilns where the heat of combustion was drawn down through the bricks by the use of a chimney or forced draught system.
  3. Horizontal cross-draught kilns where the heat of combustion was drawn horizontally through the bricks by the use of a chimney or forced draught system.

It is the Type 3 kiln that would have been used at Denton. The Type 1 kiln was inadequate for the large quantity of bricks that were being manufactured and Type 2 kilns were circular with a domed roof, known as beehive kilns.

The oxidation period in the kiln ranged from around 150 to 980ºC and the vitrification period ranged from around 870 to 1,315ºC.

Sunfield Brick Works, Manchester Road, Denton, Lancashire
This brick works was situated off the south side of Manchester Road nearly opposite the entrance to Denton Golf Club. It was owned by James and Thomas Ludlow.

The name 'Sunfield' also occurred in Sunfield House, a publice house with its own brewery on Manchester Road, situated on the west side of Denton Railway Station. However, it was closed to make way for the construction of Denton Reservoir.

Thornley Lane Brick Works, Denton, Lancashire
This brick works was situated on Thornley Lane (North), about 410 yards to the south east of Ash Road. It was owned by M E Hall & Son who also owned another brick works on Taylor Street, Gorton.

Addendum - Local Handmade Brick

The date of manufacture of this brick is uncertain but it was probably made in the second half of the 18th century. It measures 9 inches long × 4¼ inches wide × 2¾ inches thick and weighs 7 pounds 9 ounces. It bears traces of greyish-coloured lime mortar. This shows that crushed cinders were used in its manufacture rather than sand. Lime mortar produced with cinders was usually made in the proportions by volume of one part slaked lime to three parts of crushed cinders plus water. Mortar made with cinders produced strong joints.

The red colour of bricks is due to the presence of iron in the clay but the final colour was influenced by the type of sand used to prevent the clay from sticking to the moulds.

The materials were clay and water, the quarried clay first being ground either by hand or by a horse hauling a heavy roller round a grinding pan. Water was then mixed with the ground clay to plasticize it ready for forming. Lumps of clay, each of sufficient size to form a brick, were then cut from this. These lumps would then be rolled in sand to prevent them from sticking to the moulds. Each lump was then placed in a wooden mould and smoothed down, after which the mould was removed. The wet bricks were then left to air dry before being fired.