Bricks date back to 7000 bce in Southern Turkey. But it was the Romans who brought the art of brick making to Britain. Roman bricks called Lydions varied in size but were not as deep as a conventional brick. 280 x 280 x 50mm or even 500 x 280 x 50mm are common but across the Roman Empire many different sizes are to be found.

Roman Bricks in Balkerne Gateway Colchester

The industry died out when the Romans left and it was not until the early 12th century that home production of bricks re-started. In the 14th century bricks were still being made in the Roman size and were known as “Wall-Tylers”.

Between the 13th and 15th centuries the Hanseatic League was at its height and among many other things, bricks were imported from northern Europe. A cellar of a house in Spring Road is made from Hanseatic Bricks and they are to be found at other places in the village.

Loading Bricks onto Thames Barge for London

Bricks have been made around St Osyth for centuries, the local clay made a good brick. In 1880 Arthur Soloman Went bought clay rich land at Dines Farm where he began making tiles and bricks. As bricks were heavy and expensive to transport on the poor roads, the navigable Flag Creek gave a cheap way of transporting bricks to the rapidly growing market in London.

A large London builder - John Cathles Hill had purchased a brickworks at Fletton in Bedfordshire, but spiralling costs of rail freight caused him to look elsewhere. In 1900 a susidiary of J.C.Hill, The London Brick Company, purchased the Dines Farm Brickworks.

Dines Farm Brickworks

The Brickworks was expanded with a new Hoffman Kiln and 150 foot high chimney. Flag Wharf was upgraded to load the bricks onto the Thames Barges.

John Hill, a philanthropic non-conformist, built 32 cottages for workers at the brickworks. Hill Cottages, named after the company owner. They were known locally as Brickyard Cottages.

New Boiler for the Brickworks

In 1908 the price of bricks dropped dramatically and four years later a Receiver was appointed to London Brick and the Dines Farm brickworks closed. The plant and machinery were later auctioned.