Conisborough Brickyard – A Chimney Felled

October 1925

Mexborough and Swinton Times, October 31 1925

Conisborough Brickyard
A Chimney Felled
Developments at Mexborough

To see a 70 foot chimney totter is an impressive sight, and a crowd of Conisborough people watched the fall of it at the local brickworks yesterday.

Large, but mathematically designed holes, are made into the sides of the chimney, near the base, and at a signal from the manager, a few more bricks are carefully dislodged; the workmen – for only one undertakes these final strokes – pauses to see the effect of each stroke. Another brick goes, and with it a little blackened mortar. The workmen steps back. It is a breathless moment. More mortar and more dust and grime and destroyer of chimneys that back. It is enough! More mortar and volumes of dust and grime; an increased rumbling, a loud crack, and down it comes in a graceful curve, to smash itself on the ground beneath. “She fell beautifully” mutters one of the workmen proudly, and all is finished but the clearing away of the debris.

The chimney is one of two, which, having served their purposes are been demolished to make way for improvements. The works, which started as far back as 1838, were taken over by the Yorkshire Amalgamated Products Limited of Doncaster, in 1920, and since then have been completely reorganised. In place of 14 old fashion kilns there are now one large and three smaller modern kilns, by which 7,000,000 a year are been manufactured. Besides the ordinary building brick, the works produce moulded, coping, ventilating, rustic and facing bricks, chimney pots and all kinds of terracotta. Indeed, Conisborough brickyard is the principal “facing” brickyard in Yorkshire.

The shale hole, from which the clay is obtained, is the deepest in the country and forms the finest exposure of upper coal measure in Yorkshire, being in the junction of this coal measure and the Permian lime-stone bad.

The material is carried from the shale hole in terms and on endless ropes, into the grinding pans, where it is mixed with the desired blend of different beds. This operation requires great skill and experience, for each type of brick requires a totally different blend; for instance, fire bricks require more ironstone than ordinary brick, and facing bricks require another mixer altogether and so on.

From the grinding pans the material is carried by elevators to the screens, where coarser particles are screened and return to the pans to be reground, and the mixture then goes on to the brick making machine.

The principal machine in the brickworks is capable of making 16,000 bricks a day and exerts a final pressure on each moulded brick of 400 tonnes. The engine which drives the chief part of the works is a double cylinder Letz 600 hp model. It is made by Davey and Paxman and co-Ltd and was exhibited by them at Wembley last year. It is a beautiful machine and make no more noise- if as much- as 7 hp car. There is another brick making machine in the yard which produces 12,000 a day.

All the special bricks and terracotta goods are made by what is called the fall plastic process, and have to be dried in steam heated chambers with cast iron plated floors.

Over 100 men are employed