This is Stewartby Brickworks, the last brickworks in the Marston Vale, taken on a misty morning in February 2008 shortly before the works closed down. The mist, the smoking chimneys and the 1920s buildings sum up an industrial scene from a byegone age.
Much of the Stewartby Brickworks process required manual labour. The sorting and re-stacking of cooled bricks onto palettes was one such activity. This is a Sikh brick stacker. The brickworks had a strong multicultural workforce that started during WWII when prisoners of war were used to replace the men that had left to serve in the forces. After the war, the huge demand for bricks to rebuild the cities meant that it was difficult to employ enough people from Bedfordshire and so immigrant workers from across Europe were brought in. In the 1950s, Italians formed the biggest number of recruits and later, Indian and Pakistani nationals joined to make an international workforce.
This fellow was known within Stewartby Brickworks as Three Hat Solomon because he always wore three hats. His job was to load and unload the kilns so I have recorded him in front of some of the kilns that he worked with.
John is one of the volunteers who helps to restore and maintain the exhibits at the Cambridge Museum of Technology.