I have studied vernacular buildings for over 30 years and worked for ten years as an architectural designer at international level. What I have witnessed in that time is the growing conflict between the very positive intentions of individuals to conserve our brick heritage against an increasingly depleted supply of authentic local bricks with which to work. The Pluckley Brick Company, is committed to reviving the authentic processes of manufacture for both brick and tile.
Clamps have been in use since 4,000 BC and are temporary kilns formed typically by a 10 feet high stack of green (unfired) bricks, set finger width apart, with a series of lateral fire tunnels running along the base (1 tunnel feeds approximately 3,000 bricks and large clamps may burn 100,000 or more bricks at a time) and scoved (plastered) with a clay and sand mixture to keep the heat in.
The firing inefficiencies of this 'up-draft' process determine that each brick is authentic and has a unique size, shape, colour and texture; the signature characteristics of these bricks are seen across the South of England in vernacular brickwork from the 15th to the mid-19th Century, when coal became the predominant fuel.
If you live in an old house with a pond adjacent to it, then it is very likely that the bricks, tiles and floor pamments (pavers or paviours) were all dug and fired on site in such a clamp.
Tim Kemp (director)
The Pluckley Brick Company Ltd
Charity Farm House
Company No: 09210649
Telephone: 01580 852558
Mobile: 07800 933547
We would like to extend a sincere thank you to Mel and Liz at the Babylon Tile Works for their invaluable knowledge, support and inspirational craftsmanship, in helping to bring this venture to life. Babylon make the finest peg tiles in Kent from Weald Clay, dug on site from their field in Hawkenbury:
A big thank you to Mark Stephenson, Principal Conservation Officer at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Jim Wooldridge, Principal Planning officer at KCC Minerals Applications Group for leading the hunt for a viable clay source.