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Remembering Brick Workers

Maurice Page has written in to the Croydon Guardian with memories of old friends.

I have just caught up with your articles about the Woodside Brickworks, firstly being given one of the articles and then via the Internet (at last I have found a satisfying use). It is obvious that there is an interest far and wide.

I felt that I must ass a few reminiscences from my period of employment between 1965 and 1975.

My employment covered a wide range of duties and contracts, from training in the laboratory, covering for fork lift driver absences, helping in sales and covering shifts on the kilns.

I worked with people already mentioned, Frank De Rosa, Nobby Clarke, Freddy Burr, Dennis Smith, Others included "Lofty" Needham, Bill Medland, Reg Kitchen and Bob Halliday.

It was a multi-national workforce with Italian, Polish and in later years Moroccan employees. I was actually in digs in Beckford Road with Bill Maddams (retired from Woodside) and his wife and remember stories of steam traction engines and doodle-bugs. When I started, the cricket team was still playing but gradually with more and more non-employees before it ran out of steam.

It was followed by the angling club, taking advantage of the many lakes and pits within the Hall & Co. Group. Croydon Amateurs had an important link and several players were employed at Woodside during their playing careers. Tony Day springs to mind and so does Mick Miles.

As with other employees I spent time at the Newdigate works and I was there at the close. I am possibly the only employee still in the brick industry, in fact working for a brickworks that supplied handmade bricks for the Greyhound Hotel.

One fact that might surprise people is the the Woodside Clay was exhausted in the 1960s and relied on clay imported from excavations from the Victoria tube line, now that is recycling.

Anybody working in the preparation process will remember the nuts and bolts, broken shovels and other things that didn't mix with machinery ! I still see bricks that we supplied from Woodside in local buildings in Colchester.

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