Reopening of historic brick works near Lancaster

Claughton Brick Works
Claughton Brick Works

Bricks are once again being made at the historic works at Claughton near Lancaster after it was moth-balled due to a house building slump.

Housing minister Kris Hopkins today, January 24, visited Hanson’s re-opened Claughton Manor works.

Mr Hopkins met with workers and witnessed bricks being produced for the first time in four years.

The works was closed at the height of the recession in December 2009 as house building reached an all-time low.

The kiln was shut down and 35 workers lost their jobs with a crew of just three remaining on site to sell off remaining stock.

The climate changed mid-way through 2013 after a dramatic upturn in housing sales.

Plans were made to step up production, including bringing the Claughton plant back into operation – the first time a brick works has ever been “de-mothballed”.

Mr Hopkins said: “I’m delighted to see the positive effects of the Government’s ‘Help to Buy’ scheme on the economy, having played a part in reviving the Claughton Manor brick works.

“I congratulate Hanson for restoring the factory to its former glory, which I hope will remain a thriving business and a valued part of the community for years to come.”

Graham Longhorn, brick works manager, said: “The factory workforce was restored to its full complement of 38.

“We’re fortunate that we had a great interest from ex-employees and 20 have returned.”

As well as recruitment and training, the re-launch investment of more than £500,000 included three major projects – repairing the kiln ceiling, re-roofing a section of the works and putting up a new quarry building for the crusher and loading shovel. Graham said: “We are also working on the historic aerial ropeway that brings the clay from the quarry, which is on the moor 1,000 feet above the works. We are improving efficiency by having a new, shorter conveyor belt installed and upgrading the feeder.”

The 110-metre tunnel kiln was fired up before Christmas.

Graham added: “Coming back has been a challenge, but we’ve got the right team and the atmosphere is really good. The works has been renowned since it opened in 1898, so to get an opportunity to continue that history is exciting.”