Ancient Monuments

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Brick and tile kiln west of East Quay, 200m east of Bridgwater Dock lock

A Scheduled Monument in Bridgwater, Somerset

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Latitude: 51.1337 / 51°8'1"N

Longitude: -3.0019 / 3°0'6"W

OS Eastings: 329996.860244

OS Northings: 137634.527683

OS Grid: ST299376

Mapcode National: GBR M5.8WWK

Mapcode Global: VH7DH.XRDS

Entry Name: Brick and tile kiln west of East Quay, 200m east of Bridgwater Dock lock

Scheduled Date: 16 January 1974

Last Amended: 19 September 2001

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019900

English Heritage Legacy ID: 33727

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Bridgwater

Built-Up Area: Bridgwater

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset


The monument includes a post-medieval brick and tile kiln located on the east
bank of the River Parrett on East Quay road.
The kiln was founded in 1858 by Alfred Barham and was part of the extensive
Barham Brothers' Works which produced materials for the building trade
including the distinctive Bath Brick and a range of roofing tiles and assorted
decorative products such as terracotta plaques and gable end finials.
The outer part of the kiln, known as the hovel, is brick-built in a typical
bottle-shape, with a circular base wall approximately 4m in diameter below,
and a cupola-shaped top above, tapering to the original up-draught chimney. It
is estimated to be up to 21m from base to chimney. The upper part of the kiln
is reinforced with iron bands to counteract cracks caused by the heat. Inside
the hovel, the oven chamber is countersunk about 2m below ground level and has
eight surviving fire-mouths or grates set into it.
The circular base wall of the kiln is enclosed by a brick-built building, of a
date contemporary with that of the kiln, approximately 12.5m square and rising
to roof level at which height the kiln structure begins to taper. Louvres set
within the wall of this building were designed to control the air flow within
the kiln.
During the 1950s the kiln was converted to a down-draught type which increased
the heating efficiency of the kiln by means of an external square chimney,
which still survives on the south east side of the kiln structure.
The brick kiln remained in commercial use trading under its original name of
Barham Brothers from its foundation until 1965 when it ceased production.
The entire kiln and its surroundings have been converted to form the Somerset
Brick and Tile Museum. A viewing floor and guard rails have been installed
inside and an additional building has been built on the south side of the
kiln. The new building has been constructed in the style of a tile-drying shed
using building material reclaimed from the site of two kilns which were also
once part of the Barham Brothers' Works and which were demolished in 1974.
This purpose-built museum building is not included in the scheduling.
All modern flooring and guard rails, all information panels, and all modern
features dedicated to the display of the monument are excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The brick and tile industry in Bridgwater was established by the 17th century,
making use of the local clay deposits, and by the end of the 18th century the
industry was operating on a much larger scale taking advantage of the
accessible alluvial clays of the River Parrett. After the clay had been
extracted from the river it was processed and shaped into the finished product
ready to be fired. This operation was carried out in square or bottle-shaped
Bottle kilns were of the intermittent type which meant that they were fired
intermittently on a cycle of fill-fire-cool-empty, taking between one to three
weeks to complete a firing. Intermittent kilns were originally all of the up-
draught type and each firing needed about 15 tons of coal with much of the
generated heat escaping through the chimney.
The brick and tile kiln west of East Quay, 200m east of Bridgwater Dock lock
was one of many such kilns constructed in Bridgwater between 1845 and 1850 and
is now the only example which survives in the county and is one of only a few
which survive nationally. In addition it illustrates an important change in
technology, being converted from the primary up-draught firing to the more
energy efficient down-draught firing.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Murless, B J, The Bath Brick Industry at Bridgwater, (1976), 19-27

Source: Historic England

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