|Sand, Clay, Bricks
George Ward (Moxley) Limited is a well
known firm which was a significant employer in the town.
It was the last in a line of manufacturers to exploit
the rich glacial sand and clay deposits in the Moxley
area. Some of the deposits were alongside the Walsall
Canal, which allowed heavy loads to easily be
transported at a time when many roads were simple dirt
The fine-grained sand deposits were ideal for use in
moulding boxes in local foundries, making it possible to
produce accurately detailed castings. Sand from the sand
beds was used for casting as early as the late 18th
century by John Wikinson at his Bradley foundry and
For much of the nineteenth century the clay was used
for brick-making, at a time when there was a great
demand for bricks, because most of the local towns were
rapidly expanding. The many brick makers included the
Wood family (John Wood, Thomas Wood, and William Wood)
who ran Moxley Brickworks, alongside a small canal basin
in between Baggotts Bridge and Darlaston Road Bridge;
Hodgins and Bromley, brick and tile makers, and sand
merchants; Price's Brickworks; W. R. Price & Hewitt Lime
& Brick Works; Murby's Brickworks at Moorcroft Wood;
David Rose alongside the Albert and Moxley Ironworks;
Martin & Foster; and Baggott's Bridge Brick Works near
to Baggott's canal bridge.
The canal basin that
ran into Wood's brick works.
An advert from 1921.
Conditions in the early brickworks were
extremely basic, and work was hard. The report by the
Children's Employment Commission of 1864 includes the
following description of the girls who worked at Woods
Brickyard and David Rose's Brickyard:
|At Mr. David Rose's Yard, Moxley.
Anne Wooley: I began when I was 15. I
mould now. I am 24. I am paid by the
thousand. I have 2 girls to carry clay.
One is going 16 and the other going 15.
I make about 2,000 bricks in a day. I
have to work the
whole time from 6 to 6 to do that. I
always stop half an hour for breakfast
and 1 hour for dinner.
The clay carriers at this yard had to
carry the clay from the bottom of the
pit to the tables at the top; the ascent
was about 10 yards in 70 yards.
At Mr. Wood's Yard:
In this yard the girls had to carry
the clay up a steep rise of about 12
yards in 50 yards.
Mr. J. Swindley, currier, Freeth
Street, Oldbury: I have lived in the
town 30 years. I am well acquainted with
the habits and conditions of the girls
employed in the brickworks. The
employment of young females at this work
is looked upon as a shame by all us
tradesmen. The girls have to do men's
work along with the men, I have often
been shocked to hear the language and
indecent talk among these girls when
they work. After their work is over
which is generally about six o'clock,
they dress themselves in better clothes
and accompany the young men to the beer
shops. They are a good deal in the habit
of spending their earnings in beer shops
with the men. They are ignorant of all
household work, and quite uneducated.
In the early part of the twentieth century, George
Ward took over the Baggott's Bridge site and opened the
Jubilee Brick & Sand Works, producing bricks and
supplying sand to foundries, and for polishing.