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Extract of an Interview with Mr Denton

Mr Denton, brick worker, born in 1911 in Marston, worked all his life for the brickworks as did his father before him. Photographed in the CK2 area, this was the only kiln covered with a pitched roof and ventilation at the sides. It was the size of 2 football pitches, had 80 chambers with 80,000 bricks each and 3 chimneys.

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“Did he work for Franklins all his life?

Yes. London Brick bought it out eventually. He worked at the knuthole for a time (the pit which is now Stewartby Lake). They’d got iron fences round. They’d look like pigmies down there.

Did you ever see your dad working when you were a child?

We used to work on the allotments, in the village. In the winter they dug the clay out. Cause they relied on the weather in the summer to dry the tiles out. They’d dig all the clay and put it in great big heaps ready to use in the summertime. That was piece work. Hard work. Men used to dig with a spade. They had gangs. Most of them were in our family. They only had three kilns for hand-made stuff…

So your dad didn’t have far to go?

No, he was a burner and used to come home at night when he’d made up the fires. He was on his own. In them days they used to burn coal on them fires, not “smudge” like now. Most tiles were made with moulds and wet clay. They’d make them up into scores (sets of twenties). When I used to come home from school they’d be dry. I used to “clap ‘em up”. They were in five. You clapped ‘em up into twenties. I got a shilling (5p) a week for that. Then the man who made them,, had to put them ready to go in the kiln. It all depended on the weather. On a good day, they could get two laid out.”

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