Road and Rail
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|A Land of Kilns|
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The geographical areas of brick making which the book looks at cover the town of Flint in the north to Cefn Mawr in the south and from Rhydymwyn in the west to Saltney in the east. Within this rectangle were no fewer than 128 established brickworks – many of them on a very large scale, with others so small as to be operated by a man and a couple of assistants.
The reason for this high number of factories was twofold. Firstly, the high quality of the clays found around Buckley and Ruabon meant that numerous factories could be established with guaranteed markets to support them not only within the British Isles but as far afield as America and the dominions of the Empire. Secondly, the impracticality of moving heavy loads of bricks to local building sites on unmade roads which were full of pot-holes meant that each locality had to have a brick works within easy reach.
Chester Chronicle, 16th March 1878 – Connah’s Quay. They are called roads but that is quite a misnomer. They are only mud tracks. On Wednesday as a cart load of timber was passing the wheels sunk at least two feet in the mud and could only be got out with the assistance of a screw jack. The foundation is worn out and now there is a concave surface which becomes a ditch in rainy weather. It has been suggested that a light draughted boat should ply in wet weather between Wepre Bridge and Coffin Row!
Alex Hughes and “Sam” pull brick trams on the narrow gauge tramways which once used to connect the Buckley coal and brick works to the ports on the River Dee. These were later superseded by the Buckley Railway, a standard gauge line which allowed the Buckley companies to expand beyond the restrictions placed upon them by the tramways.
J C Edwards’ terracotta works at Trefynant near Ruabon in its latter days. The railways were entirely responsible for the development of the colliery and brick industries of Denbighshire, as there were no shipping port nearby to take advantage of.
The fine smooth-faced red terracotta products of the Ruabon district were extremely popular throughout the Victorian and early 20th Century and the factories founded here became amongst the largest in the country. This prosperity was solely down to the existence of main line railways.