Aerial View of Blackett’s Brickworks Portrack, 9th May 1949

This picture comes from the NCAP collection, which includes some excellent aerial pictures of Stockton and Billingham. Anyone can use it.

At this point of time, Blacketts had just about worked through the first 30 feet of boulder clay, which was used for brickmaking. The chimneys indicate that there were are least two sets of kilns which were coal fired. The pictures are clear enough to show the bogies (trucks on a miniature railway) that transported the clay to to the works. They were mostly cable hauled, excepted for the last bit were the labours would bush them to where the steam powered digger was working. This can be seen, in shadow, at the top middle of the picture. There is a white flare of steam coming out of the top.

This picture shows that my Drawing of Blacketts Brickworks, 1966 was pretty accurate.

Details courtesy of Fred Starr.

6 thoughts on “Aerial View of Blackett’s Brickworks Portrack, 9th May 1949

  1. Thanks to Peter Dickenson for his extra info on the digger in Blackett clay hole. If he enlarges this picture he will just about be able to make out his digger. It is at the very top of the picture and can be discerned by the white plume of steam.

    Did the cable hauling system extend all the way to the digger, in this case?

    I seem to remember that when the claggy was opened up towards Tilery, going another 30-40 feet deeper, the cable system only went to the bottom of where the new quarry had started. At this point the bogies were unhooked from the cable and pushed by the labourers, across on temporary tracks, until they reached the digger and the working face. They then had to push them back, when they were full of course.


    • Fred the aerial picture to me looks as though the lads had a long push in 1949 you are right the tubs were pushed from the cable hook up point Threlkeld museum has similar working navvy Lake District


    • Fred I think the kiln man was a very skilled man those days he was old his judgment at to be spot on keeping the correct temperature over burned under burned disaster eye and touch was his years of experience


  2. A very nostalgic image of where I spent many happy hours in a couple of the ponds which were home for newts, frogs, tadpoles.
    Also being a thorn in the side of the watchman for playing in the trucks on the cable hauled tubs, a terrific playground, for us from Tilery, also many a skirmish with the lads from Portrack.
    I’m sure the manager at the time was a Mr McDonald and I believe they lived in Blackett Avenue, my older brother used to ‘Knock around’ with one of the sons.


    • The “pig farm” in the top left and corner is roughly in the same position as the set of flats which comprises Campbell Court in Portrack

      The west side of Kingsport Close would be just outside the left of the picture. The claypit stretched as far as Tilery


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