Bedford Clay Pits / Brickworks

There were three clay pits and associated brickworks in the Bedford area, all had inclines.

Elstow pits

NGR TL048457

Coronation pit

NGR TL029444


NGR SP966380

The Ridgmont Brickworks were built in 1935 by the Ridgmont Fletton Brick Company, an offshoot of the Marston Valley Brick company, the two companies merging at the latter part of 1936. The London Brick Company completed their takeover of the Marston Valley in 1971. With its 25 chimneys, this was said to be the second largest brickworks in the world. It had its own 2' and 2' 5.5" gauge locomotive-hauled railway systems, connecting to the existing Bletchley-Bedford railway line. The section between the brickworks and the pit was subsequently converted to 2' 6" gauge cable-hauled railway, which in turn was replaced by a conveyor belt on 6 November 1978. The brickworks was closed in 1981 and demolished in the late 1990's to be redeveloped into the Marston Gate distribution centre.

Brogborough was sited on the top of the hill, overlooking the brickworks. Most of the houses there belonged to the Marston Valley company and were rented to employees of the brickworks. Wages in Brogborough were based on piecework, so were much higher than those earned by those in Ridgmont working for the Bedford Estates. One resident recalls "how he left his job on a farm and went to work in the brickworks, where his wages almost trebled overnight".