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index.jpg Part of the Michelmersh group of companies, Blockleys Brick has over 140 years of expertise within the building sector

With hundreds of years of cumulative experience, the Michelmersh Group of clay facing brick and roof tile manufacturers can provide customers with a wide array of products and services.

Michelmersh was initially established in November 1997 by Eric Gadsden and Martin Warner to enable the acquisition of the business of Michelmersh Brick & Tile, a long established business manufacturing premium quality stock bricks and tiles, and the share capital of Duntons, a manufacturer of traditional bricks. At the time of acquisition, the combined capacity of these companies was some 13 million bricks per annum.

In February 1999, Michelmersh acquired the business of Charnwood in Shepshed, Leicestershire, which increased the group’s production capacity to approximately 16 million bricks per annum. A further addition to the group followed in February 2000 when the company acquired Blockleys in Telford from Ennstone PLC. This acquisition served to quadruple the group’s production capacity to approximately 65 million bricks per annum.

Since November 1997, the group has invested in excess of £9 million in the modernisation of its plant and production processes and now has capacity to produce over 76 million bricks per annum with committed capital expenditure to increase this to some 85 million bricks per annum. Today, the group owns a total of four brickworks and employs approximately 300 employees. It is the largest producer of handmade bricks in the UK with two highly respected brands: Michelmersh Brick & Tile and Charnwood. In addition to the manufacture of bricks, the group is also an innovative manufacturer of clay paviors in the UK with significant overseas sales.

Blockleys Brick Ltd represents a key part of this group of businesses. Established in 1864, the company produces a total of approximately

60 million machine made stock facing bricks, extruded wirecut facing bricks, clay paviors and special shaped products per annum.

Blockleys operates from two factories on a 100 acre site at Trench Lock, Telford, Shropshire. Both factories are of relatively new construction, being less than 20 years old, and offer significant manufacturing flexibility. One factory is focused on wire-cut bricks and clay paviors and the other on manufacturing simulated handmade stock bricks with an alternative capacity to make wire-cut bricks. Blockleys also manufactures a niche range of clay bricks and paviors used in both prestige housing contracts and public projects.

Since the acquisition of Blockleys, the group has invested approximately £3.8 million in the production facilities, overhauling the existing kilns, installing scrubbers to reduce hydrogen fluoride emissions and constructing a sand drying and handling plant. In addition, the group constructed a new factory with the ability to produce special shaped paviors, which are extremely important for brick paving contracts.

The company’s products are manufactured using Etruria Marl clay mined in a quarry adjacent to Blockley’s Works and imported shale and fireclays. This produces facing bricks, clay paviors and special shaped products that exhibit total frost resistance and nil efflorescence. Sands and stains are applied to the faces of extruded wirecut facing bricks and stock facing bricks to create individual colours.

Shades of facing bricks ranging from reds and browns to yellows and buffs are available in both the extruded wirecut and stock brick ranges. Individual colours can also be blended together to create distinctive colour mixes and to match existing buildings. Clay paviors and accessories can be supplied in a full range of colours.

In the field of wirecut facing bricks, Blockleys’ Ironbridge collection offers customers a host of options. The quality of facing bricks and how they influence the appearance of finished brickwork is of primary concern to the business. Innovations in product development, improvements to the company’s quality management systems and refinements to the production processes are therefore always ongoing as part of a programme of continuous development.

Heritage Collection
Ironbridge facing bricks are available with a wirecut texture in a wide range of attractive colours. Certain brick colours can also be produced with an attractive ‘Wrekin Briar’ or smooth texture.

Blockley’s offering is similarly extensive in the area of machine made stock bricks through the company’s Heritage collection. Combining high quality craftsmanship and character, durability and appearance, this range again provides customers with a massive array of options.

Heritage facing bricks are produced automatically in one of the country’s most sophisticated computer controlled plants, with a result that is traditionally aesthetic in appearance but which retains all the inherent technical qualities of any other Blockleys’ product.

Blockleys continually develops its product offering and in recent years has introduced new ranges of bricks, including the ‘Kingsclere’ stock brick, of which approximately three million were sold in the year to 30 November 2003 and a special blue brick, which is often required for brick paving contracts.

Initially established in 1842, Michelmersh Brick & Tile is regarded as a premier producer of quality stock bricks. The brickworks manufactures its ‘Hampshire Stock’ brick by both machine and handmade methods in a range of colours. In addition, it also manufactures a range of handmade clay roof tiles in three shades. The company’s tiles and bricks are primarily supplied to prestige housebuilders for projects located in Berkshire, London suburbs, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Dorset as well as larger public projects.

Products are manufactured using clay from the Reading Beds located near to Michelmersh’s base. Shades of facing bricks ranging from orange to red to brown are mixed together by hand to create Michelmersh’s distinctive range of multi-coloured bricks. Roof tiles are available in three blends of colour to suit new build, restoration, conservation and environmental projects.

The third company within the total Michelmersh organisation is Charnwood Forest Ltd, which was established in 1887 and became part of the Michelmersh group of companies in 1999. The company produces approximately three million facing bricks and special shaped bricks per annum at its production site at Shepshed, near Loughborough.

Charnwood is respected within the industry and the architectural profession as a producer of quality handmade bricks. The company has the ability to design and manufacture bricks to exacting standards for specification building projects and its bricks are consistently used in building projects such as the British Library, Paternoster Square and other prestige London building projects.

Dunton Brothers Ltd was established in 1937 and currently produces approximately three million facing bricks and special shaped bricks per annum from Ley Hill, near Chesham.

A significant proportion of the demand for Duntons’ bricks is provided by the local market as a result of demand for bricks required to complete work in conservation areas and on listed buildings. Historically there were over 100 small brickworks across the Chilterns, producing a diverse range of brick colours. Only three such brickworks remain. By careful firing and clay selection, Duntons is able to match most of the colours required to satisfy demand from building projects in the local market.

Also located at this site is Taperell Taylor, a division of Duntons which specialises in the supply of cut brick arches and special shaped bricks, which are frequently required on major projects.

Looking to the future, Michelmersh is anticipating further development of its existing markets and feels that significant increases in housebuilding across the UK will stand the group in good stead. The organisation intends to continue its programme of investment to provide further manufacturing efficiencies and increased capacity to meet this growing demand. CT-E

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