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Happy times at Hadleys

Ann Butler of Ramsgate, Kent, writes : My father , Richard Letts, worked at Hadleys Brickworks".

He was the kiln foreman and his brother Bob was the yard foreman. They both worked there for many years. My father retired in 1970 after living in South Norwood all his life until his death in 1993 at the age of 88.

"I used to walk to the brickworks when I was quite young. Looking back it seemed like a big shed with little covers in the ground and lots of coal dust on the floor. My dad would get a hooked poker, lift up a lid and look down at the fire below"

He worked three shifts, 6am to 2pm, 2pm to 10pm, 10pm to 6am.

His brother Bob, I believe helped to start up Croydon Amateur Football Club.

James Smith of Longhurst Road, writes : "My grandad was Mr William Maddams, and he came from Willesden with Mr Handley when he purchased the brickyard. My uncle also worked there for most of his life as did my two younger brothers after the war".

There were two houses there and my gran and grandad lived in one of them before moving to 21 Dickenson Lane, when it was first built. My grandad used to drive the steam Foden tractor with two trailers on the back which were filled with bricks and delivered to sites in Surrey and Kent.

When I was on holiday from school, grandad would take me with him on the engine. While he was unloading with his mate he would send me to pick dandelions do gran could make her wine.

My uncle Bill worked in the kilns which was hard work and very dusty and hot in the summer. I was born on Christmas Day in 1921 and i like to remember Woodside as it used to be when I was a small boy. Watching horses being shoed at the forge used to fascinate me.

Jeremy Smith of Beddington Gardens. Wallington, writes : "My father Dennis Albert Smith is 79 years old and was an employee at the brickworks for over 30 years. He started work there in 1940, then he went into the RAF during the war and returned to the brickworks after the war until the site closed in the 1970's".

He also worked at the brickworks at Newdigate, near Dorking, until that closed. His father George Smith, my grandfather, also worked at the brickworks at Woodside before him.

J. Coppen of Northway Road, Addiscombe, writes : "My bedrom window looked out onto the brickworks". On one of the seven chimneys the word Handleys was printed in large letters all the way down.

During the war we used to listen to the propaganda from the German station saying this is Lord Haw Haw calling. He stated that the Luftwaffe had bombed Handley Pagis (which was an aircraft factory) but it was Handleys Brickworks.

They came over one night and dropped a basket of incendiary bombs into the pond, which is in your photo in the Guardian. These baskets had about 50 bombs and they all went straight into the bond, Now its called the Brickey and has been made a nice park.

I was a driver in the fire service during the war and had some hair-raising experiences. After that I joined the police service and did 21 years with them.

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