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14 January 2015

Accrington brickworks reopens creating 30 jobs

First publishedon www.AggBusiness.com
Accrington brickworks production
British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne have visited Accrington brick works, County Lancashire, north-west England, to mark the restart of production, seven years after the factory was mothballed.

Around £1.4 million (€1.8 million) has been invested and 30 jobs created to bring the works back into production as regional and national demand for bricks continues to rise.

They were hosted by Hanson UK CEO Patrick O’Shea and Stephen Harrison, managing director of Hanson Building Products, and given a tour of the factory, where they met members of the workforce.

Stephen Harrison said: “We are anticipating further growth in new housing starts over the next five years and are confident that this factory has a prominent part to play in the economic recovery.”

Brick production at Accrington stopped in 2008 as housebuilding across the country slumped to an all-time low. The kiln was shut down and 83 workers lost their jobs with a crew of just two remaining on site to sell off remaining stock. There was a temporary respite in 2009 when the factory re-opened for a spell, but it proved to be a false dawn and the site was finally closed in October 2012.

The climate changed mid-way through 2013 when a dramatic upturn in housing starts. The nearby Claughton Manor plant near Lancaster was brought back into production last year, the first time a brick works had ever been de-mothballed. And additional shifts were added at Hanson’s Midlands’ factories at Kirton, Desford and Wilnecote. Demand continued to outstrip supply, so a decision was taken in May to re-open the Accrington factory, which has the capacity to turn out 45 million bricks a year.

The re-start is being carried out in two stages with phase two, which will require further investment of around £350,000 (€447,000), following later this year. There is a plentiful supply of raw materials as the adjoining quarry has 30-40 years of clay reserves.

Bricks have been manufactured at the Huncoat site, near Accrington, since 1887. They are made from fire clay and are so strong and durable that they become known in the trade as iron bricks. At one time the works chimney had the letters IRON painted vertically on it with the N at the top, prompting locals to call it the NORI brick factory.

Red Nori bricks were used in the foundations of the Blackpool Tower, Lancashire, and the Empire State Building in New York, USA, as well as in thousands of houses, factories and schools throughout northern England.

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