Despite studying the history of the brickworks of South Wales for well over twenty years, a week or so ago I learned something that surprised me; a post on a local history site showed a brick kiln in almost complete condition. I waited for comments to be made on the photograph and soon learned the kiln indeed still exists, and only ten miles or so from home, a visit would have to be arranged. I dangled the carrot in front of fellow photographer Neil Holman’s eyes and very soon we had arranged a time and date to visit. The nearest place to park is about half a mile from the site, but easy walking along the very wet, and in places muddy, trackbed of the old Port Talbot railway from Bryn in the direction of Maesteg and we soon came to the surviving kiln.
The earliest reference to Bryn Brickworks I can find is the 1906 Kelly’s Directory and it appears in subsequent issues until the mid 1920s. A Grade II listed building, their website mentions that the Brickworks was constructed after 1894 and continued production into the 1920s. They also state the kiln block stood at the SE end of the works adjacent to a siding of the Port Talbot Railway.
The kiln is substantially complete although it seems to be used as a shelter by the local sheep and does smell rather unpleasant. If this were mine I’d give it a good clean inside, remove all the decades of sheep-transferred mud and tidy up all the loose bricks lying around. It would make a great centre-piece for a museum of the once-large south Wales brick industry. A bit out-of-the-way though, it would never have any visitors!
Finally, a photograph of me in front of the kiln at Bryn Brickworks courtesy of Neil Holman. The tree you can see is growing out of the side of the kiln. There are more photographs of the kiln in an album on my flickr site and you can also find out more on the Bryn page of my new website.