News: January 2019

We welcomed Godfrey Williams as a new member to the Club. Godfrey is very well known in Sandbach and district having been heavily involved for many years in the farming community. More recently, he is well known as a prominent funeral director whose son has now take over the business following Godfrey’s retirement. He assured the meeting that he will not be touting for business.

Dr Denzil Spencer was our guest speaker who spoke on the subject of bricks. Far from being mundane he gave a fascinating insight into the world of bricks. He explained that the availability of clay in the UK determines where the brick manufacturing industries are located. At the end of 2016, there was a large shortfall in the UK’s housebuilding target that resulted in a sharp decline in brickmaking with the loss of a large number of smaller companies.

The sudden surge in building in 2017/18 as a result of the Government’s help to buy policy took the industry by surprise resulting in an acute shortage of bricks and clay. Imports from the Netherlands and Belgium of both bricks and clay increased dramatically to make up the shortfall.

Bricks have been made for thousands of years for their strength and insulation properties. If you walk around Cheshire and see old walls, often three bricks thick, they will probably be built from hand made Cheshire bricks. Most have stood for more than 200 years and will most likely still be there in another 200 years.

Due to a shortage of suitable clay in Scotland, weather resistant facing bricks have to be imported. Scottish brick production is mainly of common bricks that have to be cement rendered with pebbledash to seal them.

One thing was clear, as long as suitable clay is available, bricks will remain the first choice for in building for centuries to come.