"Old Bricks - history at your feet"

The Ruabon Area


The discovery of vast quantities of high quality Etruria Marl clay in the Ruabon area in the 19th Century heralded the beginning of tile and terracotta production on a vast scale.  By the turn of the 20th Century, several factories employed roughly 2,000 people.  Workers produced massive amounts of terracotta, earning the village of Ruabon the nickname Terracottapolis. But it was for the distinctive red bricks that the area became famous.  The material was so popular it was used to build schools, hospitals, universities, law courts, pubs and other key buildings in cities across the country.



A sculpture commemorating Ruabons history, photographed at the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct by Martyn Fretwell

H. R. Bowers

The "Tatham Brick & Tile Works" or "Afongoch & Tatham Tileries" - at Afongoch, on the west side of the Ruabon-Wrexham road, off Tatham Road.  Henry Bowers was operating from this site by 1854 producing glazed stoneware pipes, firebricks and white facing bricks. The business flourished until his death in 1902 but then declined and was liquidated in 1912. The brickworks site was quarried away by Rhos Fireclays Ltd in the 1970s. 


All three photographed on the seashore at Crosby, Merseyside.


Dennis Ruabon


 

The most famous of the industrialists in Wrexham in the late 19th Century was Henry Dennis, who founded the company in 1878 that would later become Dennis Ruabon Tiles Ltd.  Dennis, born in Bodmin, Cornwall, studied civil engineering and travelled to Wales to supervise construction of a tramway at a slate quarry near Llangollen.  After a stint in Spain at a lead mine, he later returned to Wales after amassing a considerable personal fortune. Dennis became managing director of the Hafod Colliery and by 1878, had established the Hafod Brickworks. By 1893, a new factory which became known as the "Red Works", was constructed on the site where the present-day building still stands.  There, workers produced ridge tiles, chimney pots, tiles and other products using 24 coal-fired "Beehive" kilns.The business flourished at a time when demand for the red bricks and terracotta was high.  By the time of his death in 1906, Dennis had established himself as a giant of the industry, ensuring that his firm - and the name of Ruabon - had been forever cemented in British architectural history.  He also had interests in collieries, lead mines and water and gas, and is thought to have employed up to 10,000 people.  Under the control of his son, Henry Dyke Dennis, the Hafod brickworks became a private limited company in 1934 - Dennis Ruabon Limited - and continued to produce materials including tiles, chimney pots and ornamental terracotta.  In 1944, Dennis's grandson, Patrick Gill Dyke Dennis, took control and launched a modernisation programme.  By the end of the 1970s, brick production had largely ended, and the company concentrated its efforts on making quarry tiles.


J C Edwards

The entrance to J.C.Edwards works near Ruabon - the rest of the plant has been demolished.

Found in Worksop by Martyn Fretwell.

Found by Gordon Hull at the estate cottage of the Cwm Elan mine, in the upper Elan Valley in Powys.  The cottagw was built after the valley was flooded in the 1890's.

The company of J. C. Edwards (Ruabon) Ltd, was based in Ruabon, Denbighshire, and was active from 1903 to 1956 as a brick, tile and terracotta manufacturer from its works at Tref-y-Nant, Acrefair, Albert Works,  Rhosllannerchrugog, and Pen-y-bont, Newbridge, Denbighshire. James Coster Edwards (1828-1896) founded the company; it was sold in 1956.



Photo taken at a reclamation yard in Tarvin, Cheshire by Martyn Fretwell



Photo by Ray Martin.

Kaye Hirst & Co. Rhos nr Ruabon

A small brickworks in the village of Rhosllanerchrugog.  Operating as early as 1860 and owned by a local builder.  Later owned by Messrs Kaye & Hirst, the works had disappeared by the end of the 19th Century.


C Mason, Ruabon

Found on the seashore in Crosby, Merseyside.  The Garth Brickworks at Trevor was a small site when taken over by Charles Mason around 1870.  Following turbulent fortunes, he left the works in 1889 to take over running the brickyard at the Vron Colliery in Coedpoeth.


Monk & Newell


 

"Monk & Newell" was situated on the east side of the Ruabon-Wrexham road. It closed in the 1920s and the site was later used for housing ('Newell Drive') and the adjacent flooded claypit (Monk's Pool) is now used by a local angling club.


Pant Works, Ruabon

The largest of the Rhos brickworks, it was originally a colliery and ironworks until it became the North Wales Coal & Fireclay Co. around 1860.  It later became the Pant Coal, Brick & Fireclay Co. and was eventually taken over by the industrialist Henry Dennis in 1866.  He turned production over to glazed firebricks and made it one of Britain's most important producers of this product,  Gwersyllt Silica Brick Co. bought the works in 1921 after glazed bricks went out of fashion.  Closure finally came in 1971.


Plasucha

Although only a small and short lived country brickyard north of Acrefair, the works was connected to the G. W. R. by a branch line.  Owned by various parties during its lifetime, it was derelict by 1900.


Ponkey

From the village of Ponciau between Ruabon and Rhosllanerchrugog.  Poor quality clay beds never allowed this brickworks to develop much.  Begun in 1866, it finally became a pottery works owned by a member of the Dennis family.  It had ceased production by the end of the 19th Century.


Powells Ruabon - Llwynenion

Part of the Andrew Connelly collection

Photo and information by David Kitching.


R & M

Roberts and Maginnes.


Ruabon Brick & Terracota


 

The “Ruabon Brick & Terra Cotta Ltd." or "Jenks' Terracotta Works" (or "Gwaith Jinks") was situated on the west side of the Ruabon-Wrexham road (off Tatham Road) but with its original clay pit to the east of the Ruabon-Wrexham road, separated from the Monk & Newell clay pit by the Afon Goch. Founded by the Hague family of the Gardden in about 1883 and managed by Henry Jenks.  It was taken over by Dennis' in the 1960s but closed in the mid 1970s.



Photo taken at a reclamation yard in Tarvin, Cheshire by Martyn Fretwell

T.H.Seacome, Ruabon

Made at the Delph brickworks in Acrefair.  This firm was later taken over by Wyndham & Phillips.

Photo by courtesy of the Frank Lawson collection.


H Wyndham

Thomas H Seacombe founded the Delph Brickworks in Acrefair in 1868, this became the property of Henry Wyndham in 1883.  After closure in 1955 it became an opencast coal and clay quarry, using the biggest mechanical excavator then to be found in Britain.



Spotted by Jonathan in Llandudno.

W.C.Ltd

Wynnstay Colliery Limited.  This colliery near Acrefair was part of a vast and complicated industrial holding, including brickworks and ironworks in the district.  The colliery became one of the most prestigious in the district and was visited by Princess Alexandra.


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