Memories of Yvonne Everitt (nee Darlaston)

Memories of Yvonne Everitt (nee Darlaston)

Some memories of living in the vicinity of local brickworks in Stockingford during the 1950’s and the buildings that stood out dominating the scene.

Living at number 212 Tomkinson Road from birth and most of my teenage years I had an amazing view from out of my bedroom window, which looked out onto allotments, beyond which was Weirs farm. In the far distance to the right was Griff Clara pit tip, near Bermuda Road, which was a landmark similar to that at Judkins. I often used to watch in fascination, through the open window as the truck of debris was slowly being hauled up the track to the top to be tipped over the edge.

To the extreme right in the distance was one of Stanley’s disused brickworks a drawing of which is shown below. This was sketched sitting on the window ledge upstairs, when I was at Manor Park School around the year 1956; at a time when at the age of 12 years I gained great pleasure in drawing.

(Courtesy of Yvonne Everitt)

Many children in the area, my friends and I included, used to explore both the outside and inside of these brickworks. On windy days there was great excitement gained in walking through the larger buildings with feelings of trepidation taking over when metal sheets rattled and the wind howled through the crevices. The inside of some of the building were vast and there were many work surfaces still intact. The area was by then being reclaimed by wild flowers and trees and the number Tortoiseshell butterflies seen on the Rosebay Willow Herbs one year was absolutely amazing. It was in the clay hole at the back of Westbury Road that I saw my first ever Common Blue butterfly and a grass snake swimming across an area where water had collected. This was in fact our playground most of the time and in some of the smaller disused water filled clay holes we would catch newts and tiddlers.

We never gave much thought to the fact that some people had spent hours of their lives working hard digging out the clay and others working for hours in these buildings, often in hot, uncomfortable conditions, to produce the bricks, chimneys and all the other clay wares needed to construct homes and buildings of all kinds. In fact, if we followed the pathway that led past Weirs farm we did come to another of Stanley’s brickworks that was still in use and would see hundreds of the finished articles of clay piping being stacked to one side ready for collection.

There are now houses over most of this land and the large area from which the clay was dug out and which eventually began to fill with water is now a dry lake grassed over at the back of Westbury Road and another area makes up the grounds of Croft Middle School.

Little did I realise when I made this sketch that I would be capturing a part of history of which there would soon be little evidence in that area. If you that are able to capture the details of the areas in which you live and of which you are fond either by sketching as I did or by taking photographs you may be recording something that may not be there in a few years time and you may be glad, as I am, that you did.

The Glover family took the photograph below in the 1970’s when the Haunchwood Brick and Tile Company buildings were still standing. This view of tall chimneys on the skyline was common in the areas where there were brickworks. Other people may have photographs they took whilst the brickworks were in production. Maybe there are photographs around of the chimneys belching black smoke during the time that the kilns were being lit. Mr and Mrs Glover and their children lived in Hillcrest Road, Camp Hill Estate at the time and Mr Glover worked at Haunchwood Brick and Tile Company for a short period.

The children’s mother would sometimes find bits of soot on her washing, especially on the days when the wind was blowing from the south. People in Whittleford Road and Haunchwood Road would have the smoke coming their way when the winds blew from the north.

Many local people, who were the children of the 1960’s and 70’s have memories of watching the amazing sight of the chimneys being raised to the ground, when the brickworks were being demolished.

The view from 102 Hillcrest Road, Camp Hill Estate with the chimneys of Haunchwood Brick and Tile Company showing above the skyline in the 1970’s before the buildings were demolished.
(courtesy of Glover Family)

The sketch and the photograph show the variety of buildings found in the brickworks and of their visual impact on the local scene. Just as varieties of trees and plants began to colonise the Stanley’s brickworks area so too nature has taken over again where Haunchwood Brick and Tile Company once stood. The difference being that this area has not been built upon but is the largest area of open space in Nuneaton and is a haven for wildlife, full of trees, shrubs, wildflowers, (some rare) and herbs in a variety of habitats.

A huge body of research says close contact with nature is fantastic for physical and mental well being. Many of us know this to be true and feel fortunate that we have this wonderful area over which to roam and escape from the noises and stresses of everyday life. This precious place needs to be looked after and protected for the benefit of the wildlife living in and passing through and for future generations of people to enjoy a walk in the countryside on their doorstep.