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Pot Kilns

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One of the smallest hamlets in London, and unnamed on most maps, Pot Kilns lies north of Cranham on Bird Lane, just off the Southend Arterial Road (A127). From 1708, this was the centre of the Upminster brickfields, one of the largest employers in the district. The first brick kiln was built in 1774. Tiles were also produced, and a variety of pots – hence the locality’s name. These were mainly chimney pots but also flower pots and kale pots, which were used for making broth or pottage. Pot Kiln Farm was shown on a map of 1825. The kilns were operated by members of the Branfill family until the late 1850s and later by the Upminster Brick Co. and its successors. The main kiln, known locally as ‘the dome’, was 45 feet in diameter and 70 feet high. Another was nicknamed ‘the shaft’. Brickmaking continued here until 1933, when the Essex Brick and Tile Co. went into voluntary liquidation. Pot Kilns now consists of just two short terraces of houses built in the 1880s for the local workers, set among pasture, spinneys and hedgerows. Pantile Cottages run alongside the lane while Plain Tile Cottages jut southwards. Several of the properties have been ‘improved’ but some of their original character and detailing survive.

Pot Kiln Wood is a 17-acre Woodland Trust property. To the north are farms and nurseries along Hall Lane and Tomkyns Lane, with farmhouses and cottages. Great Tomkyns has a fourteenth century barn that is grade II* listed but in a poor state of repair.

click for area map (opens in a new window)
The rear of Plain Tile Cottages

Postcode area: Upminster, RM14
Further reading: Pat Ryan, Brick in Essex: The Clayworking Craftsmen and Gazetteer of Clayworking Sites, self-published, 1999

Woodland Trust

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

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