Aldeburgh: Historic brickworks to close

A BRICK-making operation which dates back to the 17th Century is due to close at the end of next month because of rising costs and a drop in demand.

Aldeburgh Brickworks has been making high-quality Suffolk Red Facing Bricks for more than 350 years but production will cease and seven people will be made redundant.

The plant, in Saxmundham Road, is part of the Reades of Aldeburgh building firm, which is owned by MS Oakes Ltd, of Lowestoft.

Mark Oakes, managing director, said the decision had been taken for a number of reasons.

These include the lower cost of imported mass-produced bricks, increasing costs of making Suffolk bricks due to health and safety regulations and a two-and-a-half fold increase in the cost of oil required to dry and fire the bricks.

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Mr Oakes added the process of making the bricks does not have the “flexibility” for the requirements of the modern construction industry.

“For the last 13 years the construction division of the organisation has absorbed the losses incurred by the brickmaking part of the business which cannot continue,” he said.

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“We have commenced dialogue with Suffolk Coastal District Council in respect of alternative uses for the site. Once these are further advanced we will advise the town council accordingly and begin discussions with them.

“Our organisation is wholly committed to continue employing people from the Aldeburgh area and the object of the exercise is to increase the number of people currently employed.”

The brickworks has a long history of handmade brickmaking, dating back to 1648. The company was first mentioned in parish notes of 1840.

The skill is used for the highly specialist restoration and repair of listed and heritage buildings.

A spokesman for the Aldeburgh Society said “We are very sad to learn that this historic business is going to close. Naturally we are concerned about the future of the site.

“The use for housing would be most inappropriate as it is in an area of outstanding natural beauty, is highly visible from the river and is outside the town’s development envelope.”

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