yeovil brick works & Brick makers

yeovil brick works & Brick makers

Producing Yeovil's bright red bricks


Yeovil clay was suitable for brickmaking and several brickworks were to be found in the town producing the soft, bright red bricks found everywhere in the older parts of the town.

The main Yeovil Brickfields Co Ltd were located north of Reckleford in the general area of Eastland Road, at this time known as Kiddle's Lane. The map below shows a clay pit from which the raw material was obtained as well as a brick kiln to the northwest of Dampier Street and to the east of Kiddle's Lane. Later Ordnance Survey maps show extensive buildings connected with the brickworks close to the corner of Kiddle's Lane and Reckleford, where the school now stands.

The brickworks closed during the late-nineteenth century and building on the site began in 1889 with the construction of Wayside Terrace on the west side of Eastland Road, just to the left of the 't' of Clay Pit on the map below. Much of the site to the west being covered by the Nautilus Works, completed by 1913, and land to the east being occupied by Westville, Southville and Eastville. The chimney and the brickworks complex on the corner of Kiddles Lane and Lower Reckleford were demolished (see photo at left and below) in 1912 to make way for the Central Junior School.

Extensive brickworks were also to be found at St Michael's Avenue which, indeed, was originally known as Brickyard Lane. Indeed the section from Milford Lane to Mudford Road was still called Brickyard Lane on the 1928 Ordnance Survey.

There were several other, smaller brickworks in the town such as at New Town, Preston Road and Ilchester Road.

Most of the Yeovil brick-making sites (Brian Murless has identified twelve, to which I've added several more, see below) were small in scale and didn't last for long. The Ordnance Survey marks single kilns such as the one at New Town and this suggests short-term investment by builders and others to meet local housing needs. Not only that, but the majority of Yeovil's brick makers were already in the building trade

The following is a list of known Yeovil brick makers -

  • William Baker of Back Kingston
    Listed in Robson 1839, Pigot 1842, Hunt 1850, Slater 1852/3, Harrison, Harrod & Co 1859, Kelly 1861

    William Baker was born in Broadclyst, Exeter, Devon in 1802 but had moved to Yeovil by 1833. Between 1839 and 1842 he ran a beerhouse called the King's Arms in Back Kingston with his wife Elizabeth. Pigot's Directory of 1842 listed him as a 'Brick Maker & Lime Burner'. The Yeovil Tithe Apportionment of 1846 noted him as the occupier of Parcel 1457, described as 'Brickyard, etc' owned by John Moody. This was on Preston Road to the immediate east of the Workhouse (see map below) - the site is now occupied by Westfield Road. The 1851 census lists him as a widower living in Back Kingston with his son, also William, and he listed his trade as a 'Contractor of Roads, etc'. In the 1861 census he was listed as an 'Earth Contractor'. He died in either 1870 or 1872.

  • Edwin Bartlett of 69 Hendford and Mudford
    Kelly 1889 to 1902 inclusive, Whitby 1895 (as Builder, Brickmaker & Undertaker)

    Edwin Bartlett was born in Hardington Mandeville in 1831, son of carpenter Robert Bartlett and his wife Ann. In 1851 the family were living in West Coker. In 1858 he married Charlotte Ash at Exeter and they moved to Yeovil. The 1871 census recorded them living in Kingston with their three infant children and Edwin gave his occupation as Builder. By 1881 William and Charlotte were living at 76 South Street with their seven children and a servant. Edwin listed his occupation as 'Builder, employing 16 men and 7 boys'. By 1891 the family were living at 69 Hendford (next door to Hendford House, today's Manor Hotel) and Edwin gave his occupation as Builder. In Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of 1895 he was listed as a 'Builder, Brickmaker & Undertaker'. Edwin died in 1907.

  • Richard Bicknell of Brickyard Lane (today's St Michael's Avenue)
    Kelly 1906 to 1919 inclusive

    Richard Bicknell was born in Mudford in 1854, the son of agricultural labourer Richard Bicknell and Ann née Whittle. In 1871 17-year old Richard was listed as an agricultural labourer like his father. In 1875 Richard married Rebecca Emma Carey Gulliford at Wincanton and in the 1881 census they were listed in Mudford with their two young children. In the 1901 census Richard and Rebecca, together with their seven children, were living in Brickyard Lane - one of only three families there. Richard listed his occupation as 'Brick Maker' and was noted as working 'at home' (see map below). His eldest son 17-year old Wilfred, was a 'Carter in Brickyard'. The family were still living in Brickyard Lane in 1911 at which time Richard gave his occupation as 'Brick Manufacturer & Road Contractor'. Richard Bicknell died in Yeovil in 1929 aged 76.

  • Henry Blake of Newtown
    Kelly 1883. Ordnance Survey shows brick kiln as 'Disused' in 1886.

    Henry Blake was born in Yeovil in 1820. In the 1851 census he was listed living in Back Kingston with his wife Mary, twelve years his senior. He gave his occupation as a labourer while she ran a 'Dame School' of 20 children. I lost them in the returns for 1861 and 1871 but by 1871 they were living in Goldcroft and 60-year old Henry listed his occupation as a Brick Manufacturer. Henry Blake died in Yeovil in 1894 aged 75.

  • Amos Haimes of Kingston
    Pigot 1822 and 1823

    I could find no further information on Amos Haimes other than he died in 1840 in Lyneham, Wiltshire.

  • GT Hardy brickmaker of Yeovil
    Western Gazette, 29 May 1874

    Applied for the position of Inspector of Nuisances for the Union. Only received one vote out of a possible 38.

  • Joel Hardy of London Road
    Robson 1839, Pigot 1842

    Joel Hardy was born in Uplyme, Devon, on 21 July 1782, the son of Thomas and Mary Hardy. On 28 July 1811 Joel married Melina Seward at St Johns church, Yeovil. They lived at Penn-Field, London Road and Joel was listed in the Poll Books of 1832 to 1846 by virtue of owning a freehold house there. Robson's Directory of 1839 listed him as a Brick Maker and also as a Brewer of London Road - the later Royal Osborne Brewery.Joel Hardy died in Yeovil on 18 September 1861.

  • George Harris of Victoria Place
    Robson 1839, Bragg 1840, Pigot 1842, Slater 1852/3, Kelly 1861

    George Harris was born in Yetminster, Dorset, in 1792. The 1846 Yeovil Tithe Apportionment noted that George owned and occupied two parcels of land; 1065 Roping Path and 1066 adjoining Mudford Road to the immediate south of Green Quarry, noted as 'Brickyard, etc' (see map below). In the 1851 census George and his wife Grace, together with their son, daughter and grandson, were living in Victoria Place. George listed his occupation as 'Timber Merchant'. By 1861 69-year old George was still living in Victoria Place with Grace and daughter Elizabeth. He gave his occupation as Builder. By 1871 George, now widowed and aged 79, had moved around the corner and was living with his daughter in Clarence Street. He gave his occupation as 'Income from Houses'.

  • Charles Harwood of Vicarage Street and Mudford
    Harrison, Harrod & Co 1859, Kelly 1866, Morris & Co 1872, Kelly 1875

    Charles Harwood was born in Yeovil in 1820, the son of mason Thomas Harwood. In 1845 he married Maria Morse at Yeovil and in the 1851 census they were living in Vicarage Street with their two infant children. Charles listed his occupation as a Mason. By 1871 Charles was an established builder and noted in the census that he employed '32 men and 10 boys'. He still lived in Vicarage Street with Maria and his father Thomas and a servant were living with them. Charles died in Yeovil in 1879 aged 59.

  • Arthur Silas Hayward of 84 Gold Croft Lane
    Kelly 1902

    Arthur Silas Hayward was born in Yeovil in 1862. In the 1891 census Arthur, aged 9, was listed living with his grandfather Silas Hedditch, a Middle Street umbrella maker. In the 1891 census Arthur was living at 13 Market Street with his aunt. Aged 28 he gave his occupation as 'Leather Glove Manufacturer'. I couldn't find him in the 1901 census but he died in Yeovil on 10 June 1907. His probate noted him as a Builder of Goldcroft and his estate was valued at £15,777 (around £8 million at today's value).

  • Samuel Isaac
    Indenture dated 2 July 1814

    An indenture in my collection dated 2 July 1814 relates to the sale of a field to Robert Jennings (below) "lately converted into a Brickyard.... together with the Brick Kiln and all and singular other outhouse and buildings lately erected and built by the said Samuel Isaac". This was one of at least two brickyards after which Brickyard Lane (today's St Michael's Road) was named. The site of this brickyard later became the White Horse public house, another brickyard was located on the west side of Brickyard Lane close to its junction with Mudford Road. Whether or not Isaac actually made bricks himself is open to question since he was described in the lease as a 'Gentleman' but, in fact, was a Yeoman farmer who lived in the farmhouse that would become the Glovers Arms and owned much land east of Ryalls Lane (today's Eastland Road).

    Samuel Isaac has his own page here.

  • Robert Jennings (1771-1848) of Silver Street
    Pigot 1822, 1830

    Robert Jennings was a plumber & glazier, an ironmonger, and Postmaster of Silver Street and was listed as a brick maker in Pigot's Directory of 1822. He also served as Yeovil's Portreeve. However an indenture in my collection dated 2 July 1814 shows him to have purchased from Samuel Isaac a brickyard with a brick kiln thereon in Gorefield which he later leased (in 1829) to William Snook.

    Robert Jennings has his own page here.

  • Henry Longman of Hollands (1822) / Kingston (1830)
    Pigot 1822, 1830

    Henry Longman was born in 1791, in Abbas Combe, Templecombe. He lived in Hollands (actually Green Quarry) and was listed in Pigot's Directory of 1822 as a Brick Maker of Hollands. He was listed in the Yeovil Poll Books of 1832 and 1834 by virtue of owning freehold houses in Reckleford and again he was noted as living at Hollands. In the 1841 census 45-year old Henry was living at Green Quarry (technically opposite Hollands, but  included in the general area of Hollands at the time) with his wife Mary née Maidment, daughter of George Maidment below. Henry listed his occupation as 'Collector of Rates'. Henry Longman died in the winter of 1844 aged 48.

  • George Luckes, also known as Wills

    I have just one reference to George Luckes, aka Wills, brick-maker of Yeovil, from the Birmingham Gazette of 5 April 1824 when he was declared bankrupt.

  • George Maidment known to be a stone supplier as well as a brick maker of the Hollands area until his death in 1820. The father-in-law of Henry Longman above, to whom he left his business.

  • William Snook
    A glove manufacturer, William Snook leased the Brickyard Lane brickyard from Robert Jennings (see above) in 1829, but most likely as a speculative venture.

    William Snook has his own page here.

  • Richard Vining (1752-1816) of Kingston
    E Watts' map of Yeovil of 1806 shows the Brick Yard of Mr R Vining in Kingston at the location where his son would later build Kingston House (now the Park School)

  • Charles Vining (1780-1855) of Ilchester Road and Kingston
    Pigot 1830 and 1842, Robson 1939

    Charles Vining was son of the above Richard Vining. He was a Mason, a Master Builder and a Brick Maker and has his own page here.

  • Richard Vining (1815-1891) of Ilchester Road, Kingston and Princes Street, Yeovil and Mudford. Somerset Gazette Directory 1840 (as a Flower Pot Maker), Bragg 1840, Hunt 1850, Slater 1852/3, Harrison, Harrod & Co 1859, Kelly 1861

    Richard Vining was son of the above Charles Vining. He was also a Brick Maker and has his own page here.

  • Yeovil Brickfields Company Limited of Reckleford
    Kelly 1902 to 1910 inclusive



A section of the 1842 Tithe Map showing Preston Road running from centre left to bottom right with the Union House at centre. To its immediate right, Plot 1457 was the "Brickyard, etc" owned at the time by John Moody with William Baker as tenant.


A part of the 1889 Ordnance Survey map featuring, as a thick black line at top left, Mudford Road and running diagonally across the map is Brickyard Lane, today's St Michael's Avenue. At centre is the "Brick & Tile Works" - one of at least two alongside Brickyard Lane (see above). This had been Parcel 1035, named Gillard's Close, in the 1846 Tithe Apportionment, at which time it was owned by Ann Collins and occupied by James Marten. This brickyard, owned by Richard Bicknell, is now the site of Bicknell Gardens.


Another section of the 1842 Tithe Map showing the Five Crossroads at bottom left. The brickyard of George Harris is Parcel 1066 at centre. It had earlier been the brickyard of George Maidment and then his son-in-law Henry Longman. George Harris also owned Parcel 1065, a field called Roping Path, and the houses and gardens of Parcel 1063 off Sparrow Lane.


An extract of Watts' 1842 Yeovil map with Fiveways at top left and Kingston running diagonally across the map. Richard Vining's brickyard is clearly marked lower left of centre, at this time owned by his son Richard.


This map, based on the 1842 Tithe Map, shows the parcels of land referred to in the indentures of 1814 and 1829 concerning Samuel Isaac, Robert Jennings and William Snook. Parcel 982 was that parcel "lately converted into a Brickyard", Parcel 981 contained New Prospect Place built and owned by Robert Jennings (his son William had inherited the lands by 1846) - "bounded on the north by the land of the said Robert Jennings". Parcel 983 was "on the South by lands of James Tucker" - this is now the site of Great Western Terrace.


This 1890 Ordnance Survey map clearly shows the extensive size of the Yeovil Brick Works, including the clay pit (now approximately the site of a small car park at the end of Summerhouse View) and the brick kiln (now under part of the Nautilus Works buildings). 



An envelope, posted from Sherborne to Yeovil on 19 May 1841 (using a Penny Black stamp of 1840) addressed simply to Mr Baker, Brick Maker, Yeovil, Somerset. This was William Baker. This envelope was catalogued at £3,500.


From my collection

Invoice of Richard Vining dated 25 October 1854. Richard Vining was a brick, tile, chimney, seakale and flower pot manufacturer who also made malt kiln bricks and could supply building and paving stone from the Yeovil Quarry. He was listed in trade directories between 1840 and 1861 but committed suicide by drowning.


From my collection  -  This photograph features in my books 'Yeovil From Old Photographs' and 'Secret Yeovil'.

This postcard dates to about 1905 and shows, at centre, the chimney of the Eastland Road brickworks with its associated buildings clustered around its base. To its left is the leather works built by William Bide (recogniseable by the double roof with a row of six black windows). Running along the bottom of the photograph is Station Road with the Alexandra Hotel at bottom right. In the top half of the photo, Eastland Road runs behind the chimney with fields either side!!!


This is the Yeovil Brick Works buildings (the full height of the chimney is shown in the first photograph above) at the time of their demolition in 1912.


A Yeovil brick. Although damaged It is about 230mm x 100mm x 65mm (9" x 4" x 2½") which is 15mm (½") longer than a modern brick. There is no frog as such (the deep depression in a brick) but the indentation with 'YEOVIL' stamped in it is only about 5mm deep. It is most likely pressed into a mould rather than being hand-made and dates to the late 19th century.


Courtesy of Brian Murless, Archivist of the Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society

A brick manufactured in Yeovil by Charles Vining and bearing his C/V strike mark. This particular brick came from Hainbury Mill and dates to the 1830s.


This photograph features in my book 'Secret Yeovil'.

These marks in the soft Yeovil red bricks are at the South Street end of Tabernacle Lane. The marks were made by schoolchildren sharpening their slate pencils on their way to school in South Street.