Residents of Chandler’s Ford living in a house built before the First World War may be surprised to learn that their dwelling is probably built from Chandler’s Ford bricks.
The Chandler’s Ford Brickworks was not a single works, but the name often used to describe the seven or eight different yards situated on land now occupied by the Industrial Estate. This site was ideal, having an excellent quality of the basic raw material, clay, and being in close proximity to the railway. The manufacture of bricks began here in the 1870s and they were sent far and wide by train, as well as being used locally.
The yards were mostly owned by building contractors but one owner, John Thomas Wren, was different. He was a Master Brickmaker and owned works in Mottisfont and Michelmersh before moving to Chandler’s Ford and taking up residence here in about 1876. He built a large house which he called Ferndale on the triangle of land between Bournemouth Road, Station Lane and the railway line. It was demolished around 1933 to make way for the parade of shops.
Wren also employed tradesmen to build houses, using the bricks made in Chandler’s Ford, most notably in Westwood and Winn Roads, Southampton and in Bournemouth Road, Chandler’s Ford. His bricks were marked with a single “W” or with the initials “J.T.W”
Chandler’s Ford was a very small village when Wren arrived with no school or church so in 1880. He lent a cottage for use as an Anglican place of worship and Sunday school. Other temporary buildings followed but it was 1904 before a permanent church was built. It is reported that Wren donated bricks for the building of St. Boniface Church in Hursley Road.
Other brickworks opened toward the end of the century, one in Common Road and two more at Fryern. Most of the owners were contractors living in either Southampton or Winchester and the day-to-day running of the yards would have been under the control of managers and foremen living close by their works.
These were important men in the village and several held seats on parish councils. Many were supporters of the Methodist Church and in 1901 they came together to build a chapel in Brownhill Road. It still stands, in the carpark behind the Co-Op store and was, of course, built from Chandler‘s Ford bricks. John White, a brickyard owner, donated 5,000 bricks, value £7.50 and Mr. Rodaway, a foreman, 1,000 bricks, towards construction of the chapel in 1900.
At the laying of the foundation stone for the Methodist Chapel, Tankerville Chamberlayne, the landowner gave a speech in which he told of his impression of Chandler‘s Ford when a child in the 1850s. He said,
I had had the impression, as a child, that this was a most outlandish place. The railway guards, when it consisted of a farm and cottage, used to sarcastically refer to it as a city. There used to be a joke that only one man was ever known to get out at Chandlers Ford Station and he was never again heard of. If that solitary individual was now to come back he would find the place very different.
And what if Mr Chamberlayne were to come back, 120 years later, what would he think of Chandler’s Ford today?
If you’re interested in the Chandler‘s Ford brick industry and have any questions or information, please contact me by e-mail c/o Bursledon Brickworks Museum, firstname.lastname@example.org and mark it FAO Jim Beckett.
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