Friday, 2 January 2015

Furness Vale Brickworks, A note from the past

Last summer a message appeared on the Whaley Bridge Forum posted by "Goneaway":

" Iam long gone from the Whaley Bridge area - about 60 years - however I did come across a notebook of my father's which contained working details of the R.E. Knowles Fireclay works at the end and just after the WW2 and only of interest to a very small niche audience. It may be that niche audience reads this forum. It was more than a bit tatty but I have put the pages together and scanned them. They can be found at the following link :....."

The link unfortunately is no longer active but David Kitching has kindly sent a copy of the document which will be printed for the History Society archives.

This is the notebook of Felix DeBass one of the investors in R. E. Knowles when the present company was incorporates in 1944

Many of the notes from c1945 are technical and include details such as recipes for firebricks, porcelain, glazes etc. There is production and cost data and much information whilst of historical value, is not an exciting read. Of more interest are the tables showing output from Furness Clough and Diglee pits, 1721 tons in 1945 and from the Brickworks. There are details of wages paid to the miners and brick workers, some of whose names are still familiar. One mineworker was paid 17 shillings and 10pence halfpenny per shift, plus 4 shillings and 6 pence timekeeping bonus. He worked 7 shifts per week so his wage for 1944 was quite good. A new electric kiln was commissioned in 1946 and at its overnight trial lasting 11 hours, reached a temperature of 600° C and consumed 606 units of electricity or 910 kilowatts.

The notebook will be available at future Society Meetings.

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