I am delighted to report upon a wonderful visit to the Bulmer Brick & Tile Company in Suffolk.

This is an old and very specialised brickworks dealing with the manufacture of bespoke handmade bricks which are used on our major stately homes and cherished listed buildings when matching and period materials are specified. Their bricks can be seen forming the ornamental arches around St Pancras Station, where hand cut shaped bricks were used, and at Eton college and elsewhere.

Twenty-five members and potential members braved the chilly start to listen to our host and owner Peter Minter who took us around the site. Peter's talk was very informative yet amusing. We were able to see the various stages of brick making (which is more akin to a science) and observe the different piles of clay all of which have different characteristics and colours when fired.

We were all amazed when we were shown the hand cutting area. Large blocks - oversized bricks - are used, cut using a bow saw with twisted wire as a blade to form very ornate and almost impossible patterns. All done entirely by hand with a wooden template as a former. A skilled operator could perhaps cut 650 of these a day giving an idea of the high cost of such work probably unavailable elsewhere in the country today.

This visit was a truly TATHS members' delight and our sincere thanks go to Peter Minter who fortunately has two sons in the wings to carry on this unique and increasingly important business.

Paul Coutts
Membership Secretary - TATHS

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