Stanley Bros Brick and Tile Works

Stanley Brothers 

Brick and Tile Works Croft Road

Jacob Stanley and Benjamin Broadbent took over the brickyard in Swan Lane during 1869. The previous owners were Walter Handley, a local farmer and eventually a brick maker in Swan Lane (now Croft Road). Walter passed away 26th January 1864 and in his Will the brick business went to his son in law David Wheway. David, who was just a clerk for a silk weaving company, didn't get chance to enjoy his inheritance, as he passed away four years later on the 14th July 1868 aged 71. Sarah his widow sold up and the following year Broadbent & Stanley made the purchase, this was to be the start of the name Stanley in Nuneaton's brick manufacturing history. 

Two examples of early Broadbent and Stanley brick's one on the right, is from Earl Shilton thanks to Sheryl Wrighting and on the left, is a coping brick on the tunnel at the bottom of Oaston Road.

The yard seemed to have a curse on its owners, Benjamin was taken ill just a few months into the business. He took a step back from the running of the yard, keeping shares in the business and became a silent partner, passing away in 1887, just 47 years old. Reginald was looking for invest and after the partnership was dissolved in August 1871 (below) they became known as Stanley Bros. Reg started pumping his money into the brickyard to increase production. At that time housing and the building trade was at a high, bricks a premium and houses in big demand. Putting money into the business meant they would get a bigger share of the market.

 The Company was on the up, the rise from 'a group of comparatively small brick-field's'  to the 'present extensive works consisting of seven distinct yards, manufacturing almost every type of building material', was used to described them in the Stanley Bros Sales Catalogue of the 1930's. The seven yards all had their own different uses these where shown in the catalogue and listed below.

A brickyard wouldn't be complete without clay. Thankfully the land around the works on Croft Road had a superb supply of pink (terracotta), yellow and two different colours of grey clay to work with. As you can see from the photo below there was a clay pit right behind the works. If you look closely (centre) two men are hard at work and on the left there is a pulley system to bring the clay back up to ground level. The closeness of the clay was noted in the prospectus 'the great variety and excellence of the Marl's and Clay's found in large quantities on both freehold and leasehold properties enable the firm to produce at these works almost every requisite for building operations, usually made from marl and clay.... The clay's lie near to the surface and as nearly the whole of the seams are found near the grinding mills, thus saving haulage, they are obtained at minimum of cost'.

One of the clay pits serving No 1-2 brickyards.

above left - Is a disused Stanley's pit, no location is given I wonder whereabouts it is. Above right - Cloddies pit with its different rock types clearly seen in the face. (BGS website)

Stanley Bros was leading the way in brick manufacture. Reginald and his team where always trying to find new ways of making the job easier and most importantly make more money. Along with Nuneaton Engineering Company (Stanley's other interest) they patented various brick, tiles, pipes and chimney pot's. In my files I have over fifteen different types of patents for improvement in design and the manufacture of these items along with one unusual patent for apparatus used in the game Ping Pong.

By the end of the century the brick works had a massive portfolio of customers, topping nearly 4000 across the UK and Ireland. They had 145 acres of land, owning around 47 acres of it. They rented out cottages to workers on both Westbury Road and Croft Road, they also had farmland covering any part that wasn't being 'worked'. It was also mentioned that Stanley Bros had contracts with the General Post Office and the London County Council, supplying large quantities of Electrical Conduit pipes. One month during 1908 they were supplying around 250,000 ducts to L.C.C.

The pricelist (right) from my own collection has hundreds of different types of bricks, looking around Nuneaton you can see decorative edging bricks everywhere.

Stanley Bros products were known for their superior quality and great design. A page from the catalogue below shows just some of thousand odd items that could be ordered to 'enhance' the look of your home. Architects like Stanley's own FJ Yates made good use of their idea's. Marsdale on Manor Court Road, Nuns Croft on Earls Road and Manor Court Stanley's home are great examples of designs. Check out the Manor Court Road page for more info, along with a few local places below, can you recognise where they are from?

Below, thanks to the English Heritage and Britain from Above you can see how the area looked in the early 1920's. The Cottages can be seen at the bottom with Croft Road going up the middle towards Stockingford. The track off to the left is about where the Raywoods is now. 

The map on the left shows the Stanley Bros footprint covering both sides of Croft Road. The brick & tile works bottom centre is now covered by the Raywoods estate and the row of shops. The track crossing the road is close to the entrance of Marsdale Drive now, with the offices of the company about where Denehurst Way is now. On the centre of the map you can see two rows of cottages, they have now been replaced with the Sunnyside Complex. Two of the cottages remain today and are a fine example of Stanley Bros work, see below. 


The Brick & Tiles Works Offices
Thanks to an article in the Nuneaton Observer dated 7th august 1896, There is a extensive interview with Mr George Beck (below left), The Brick and Tile yard Manager and Engineer. Mr Beck showed the reporter around the companies extensive yard and his tour started at the offices, the hub of all the commercial activities. Each department had its own head and they were as below. 
Secretary and Cashier - Mr William Westwood
Shipping - Mr A W Rose
Correspondence - Mr G F Stroud
Purchase Ledger - Mr E Kenworthy
Yard Manager - Mr R Train (above right)

There were around twenty clerks that worked under these men, along with the Traveller's (Sales Reps), Mr H J White, Mr W B Hill, Mr J W Porter, and Mr W Farndon. Locally was Mr Jessie White and covering the London depot was Mr A Reynolds. Below is a photo from the 1902 Coronation Booklet, it looks like Mr Kenworthy had moved positions from the Purchase Ledger to a Traveller between 1896 and 1902.  Stanley Bros was a huge affair and with no less than seven yards in the 1920's they all had a specific role to play. Below is a breakdown of each yard and where it was and what it produced.
Yard No 1- Ridge Tiles, Finials, Chimney Pots and Air Bricks

Yards number 1-2 were, for over hundred years a major landmark on Croft Road. The entrance which is long gone now with its patchwork glazed brick (below), I'm sure this would have fascinated passers by, along with it's visable brick kiln's  The Loco's where kept very busy and were often seen moving various loads between yards. You can see a couple of them below.

A wonderful photo showing the Fowkes family business and Stanley Bros' brick kiln's sneaking into the background.
Thanks to C Fowkes (Nuneaton Memories/Facebook) #ST5
Stanley Bros' advert from a building magazine. Each design had its own size and dimensions to fit an type of house. #ST21
A superb page from the Stanley Bros Catalogue thanks to the Nuneaton Library Archive.  #CT22

A great example of a Stanley Bros Chimney Pot, you can see this at the Nuneaton Museum. #BRICK19
Yard No 2 - Stoneware pipes, connections and electrical conduits
The photo below brilliantly shows number 2 yard, again on Croft Road. The stoneware factory and kilns where about where Marsdale Drive is now, you can just make out on the left of the photo two piles of stoneware pipes ready for despatch. Behind the photographer were the clay pits close to Croft School. The entrance you see (middle right) leads out onto Croft Road and across to Yard number 3.
Thanks to Nuneaton Library #ST38 ST41 Cropped


                Yard No 3 - Multiplex quarries, Paving tiles and Red common bricks


Yard No 4 - Glazed Bricks and Sinks, Malt Kiln Tiles
No 4 yard on Croft Road kept a top secret recipe behind its closed doors. Who would of thought that a glazed brick could cause such a issue. It did during the last few months of Reginald's participation in the board room. The Glazed brick recipe was left in the capable hands of the Works Foreman's Daniel Blackham Bates and Richard Henry Bates. The pair both joined the company in 1901 and signed contracts for a ten year period, giving all their time and experience for the good of the business. They weren't allowed to reveal the recipe to anyone other workers or visitors to the yard under any circumstances. 

Some examples of Sinks and Basin's on the left and on the right any type of glazed brick you can just about think of.
#ST29 and #ST22
Yard No 5 - Blue building bricks and Paving Bricks

Stanley Bros' Loco's

Stanley Bros Share Issue of 1895 

 In 1895 Reginald Stanley decided he needed more capital (was the company getting too big for him?), so the company was incorporated and a prospectus was drawn up. The terms offered were as follows. £10 each, 8000 preference shares and 8000 ordinary shares. The advert below, from the Nuneaton Observer shows how to purchase your very own bit of Stanley Bros Limited. Plans were in motion to invest in a new colliery at Whittleford, as the old colliery minerals leases only had three years left. They had proposed to erect a new brick works with fifty six acres of clay leases in Arbury, close to the railway, along with the already established Dale Hall Brick and Tile works in Burslem eighteen months ago.

This was the first sign of Reginald needing investment from outside his close network of people. At the time of the issue the Directors were Reginald, Henry Holloway, John Barnsley and Arthur Houghton Rogers. Below shows the Directors in 1902, J.F.Johnson and Henry Murray joined after the floatation, and the secretary was William Westwood (pro tem). 

It also mentions the profits Stanley's were making for the past seven years and it was averaged out to £17,000 a year, in today's money its about £1.9 million a year. This was a massive project for Reginald it wasn't just about bringing in new investors, he pumped £30,000 (£3.3 million in 2015) of his own money to develop the new mine in Whittleford (now the Poplar Farm Estate). He was willing to sacrifice his dividend for three years, until the mines were producing 200 tonnes per week.