Most of the buildings I’ve explored were derelict before I started this website. Most fell
into disrepair and disuse in the early to mid 1990s and were little more than modern ruins
by the time I crept into them.|
Stewartby Brickworks was different. Although the site had been slowly winding down, it was still a viable, thriving business a couple of years ago. (I remember driving past on a potential recee in the late 1990s). But it wasn’t the credit crunch which caused the demise of the biggest brickworks in Europe; it was the sulphurous emissions from the chimneys. These fell foul of the latest EU environmental emissions directive and it was uneconomical to install extraction plant. So the site closed early in 2008.
I knew about the closure date but felt uncomfortable about exploring the brickworks so soon after its closure. It felt somehow ‘improper’, trespassing over a site which was until recently a workplace; the kilns still warm after their perpetual furnaces were extinguished for the last time. So I left it for a year, amusing myself with more ancient ruins.
At the year’s turn, my thoughts returned to the brickworks and I scheduled it as my first exploration of 2009. As it turned out I was just in time. Demolition appeared to be underway and several of the former press sheds were stripped bare. The period between desertion, dereliction and demolition was extremely narrow at Stewartby and I’d almost mistimed it. But enough remained and we gained a good understanding (and some good pictures) of what Stewartby Brickworks was all about.