Brampton Childhood Memories

Issue no. 52 – April 2014.

Words by John Lilley.

Swimming

Following our recent article on Wasp Nest Brick Company John Lilley from the Brampton Living History Group has provided memories of the Inkerman Pool that was sited next to the brick works.

As well as playing on the Recreation Ground, we also used to explore and play in another totally different environment, also nearby. On the other side of Old Hall Road, opposite Barker Lane, was a semi-derelict brick works with adjacent overgrown tip and quarry. The brick works were known as Wasp Nest Brick Works. It was fun clambering on the rocks in the quarry and exploring the rock pool which had sticklebacks, newts and tadpoles in them.

There were also two short lengths of narrow gauge rail track which ran from the brickyard into the quarry. The wagons used on the track were still in use. At a distance, we used to watch the empty wagons coming down one track and the filled the wagons returning on the other track back to the works. Presumably, the wagons were used to carry the coal and clay extracted from the quarry. Occasionally, the rocks had to be blasted with explosives.

It is not clear when the brick works were built but directories, maps and Council Minutes suggest that it is around 1909, and by 1912, the Waspnest Brick and Tile Company was firmly established on the site with the brick kilns, chimney, quarry and rail track all in place. The joint owners of the Brick Company were two local builders, Edward Silcock and Edwin Hattersley, a joiner, Arthur Heath, and a butcher, Arthur Gibbons. No doubt the two builders were responsible for the erection of the brick works, and with a ready supply of bricks they built much property in Chesterfield. Edward Silcock, in particular, built the houses on Chester Street, Bank Street and Hope Street in Brampton, and two well known landmarks, the chimney stacks at the Electricity Works and at Robinsons’ Wheatbridge Mills.

The Waspnest Brick and Tile Company ran the business until around 1934 when it seems that a newly formed company, The Chesterfield Brick Co (1934) Ltd took it over. Brick making ceased around the mid-1940s when the firm closed down. There must be many houses around Chesterfield built with Wasp Nest bricks. I still have a few at the bottom of my garden with the name ‘Wasp Nest’ imprinted on the side of them.

I have a particular interest in the brick works because my great great grandfather, Joseph was a master brickmaker, who came from Warwickshire to Brampton with his family c. 1844-5 and for a short time lived in one of the old Wasp Nest stone cottages close to the brickworks. Two of his sons also became brick makers, who, like their father, worked at brick works in the districts.

Next to the brick works quarry was the Inkerman Pool created when the former 19th century Inkerman Colliery workings were flooded with water after the colliery closed in the early 1900s. The over grown spoil heaps around the pool reminded us of the coalmining of the past. The Pool was used for swimming by the Chesterfield Swimming Club which had its own changing huts and diving board. Because of the steep sides to the Pool, some of the Brampton lads used to dive in off the top of the banks. Some of the local fishermen could also be seen trying their luck in the waters, but I never saw them catch anything! The Pool was said to be very deep, and unfortunately a few drowning tragedies occurred.

Above the Pool on the Ashgate side, was the derelict pottery building with its chimney, of the former Ashgate Pottery Co. Ltd. The pottery was particularly noted for the making of peggy pots and pancheons (a pot traditionally used to bake bread).

It is interesting to note from the O.S. maps of 1898 that, in addition to the Inkerman Colliery, there was also the Inkerman Brick Works run by the Chesterfield Brickmaking Co. Ltd., on the site of the later Ashgate Pottery. Little is known about the brickworks or the pottery, but in 1901, the Chesterfield Brickmaking Co. Ltd. went into liquidation, the brick works was closed and was probably converted for pottery making. Presumably, the coal extracted from the colliery was used at the brick works, but by 1914 the colliery had been abandoned.

Soon after the war in about 1946-7, the Council built pre-fabricated houses on the tip and adjacent field, and extended Churston Road to Old Hall Road. Later, the brick works were demolished, the quarry filled in, the Inkerman Pool drained and filled in, and the whole site redeveloped for housing around 1969-70, including a large children’s playground and football pitch.

If you’re interested in learning more about local history the Brampton Living History Group meet every month at St Thomas’ Church towards the end of the month, details of their meetings are provided in the What’s On listing.