Beaulieu Brick Kiln – Baileys Hard

Hi I’m Molly, an A level history student on work experience with the New Forest National Park archaeology team and I have been involved in some amazing projects during my placement so far. One of those is the listed Beaulieu brick kiln (List entry Number: 1094422) and its conservation is one of the projects in the £4.4million Our Past Our Future heritage lottery fund scheme.

Interestingly, the New Forest was a major producer of hand-made clamp and kiln fired bricks and tiles which have left evidence of clay pits and working areas all across the New Forest landscape. A combination of map research, Lidar and traditional woodland survey is increasing our knowledge of the local brick industries. Many were fired using the gorse from the open forest which was a renewable fuel resource (this specific kiln was fired using coal). Before, brick manufacturing was slow and limited, yet with the advent of machine making at the end of the 18th century, great volumes began to be produced.

The brickworks at Baileys Hard opened in 1790 and ceased functioning in 1935 – It was most likely constructed in the late 19th or early 20th century and was said to hold a maximum of 40,000 bricks during firing. The brick kiln at Beaulieu is a downdraught kiln (straight-sided with a domed roof) meaning higher quality bricks were able to be created due to the fact that it was more effective and easier to control compared to the previous up-draught kilns. Fireboxes, as seen in the pictures, were located at the base of the walls and heat passed between these walls and screen walls which were built nearby. Once the heat had risen in the kiln, it was deflected down towards the honeycomb of raw bricks and out through holes in the floor which were connected to a flue.

Bricks soon became fashionable and so the production increased rapidly in all walks of society. The location, next to the river on private land on the Beaulieu Estate, was chosen because of the availability of the clay to make the bricks. Also due to its location, boats were used to transport the bricks and with the expansion of the railway system in the late 1840s they could be transported to a much wider area including the urban areas of Bournemouth, Southampton and further afield to be used as decoration on traditional red brick buildings. You can also find them in other places like Exbury and Cadland to construct the buildings on the estate.

There was more brick building carried out during the Victorian era than the sum of all remaining brick buildings constructed up to that time which I found really remarkable.

The brick’s colour was influenced by the clays and other materials used, and by the temperature at which they were fired and so distinctive white bricks known as ‘Beaulieu buff’ bricks were produced. This is why villages look the way they do – I didn’t know this before. Along with this main product, the brickworks also produced specialist bricks such as coping bricks, squint bricks and mullion bricks, and a variety of tiles and pipes.

In fact, even the ice house also situated on Beaulieu Estate (which you can read about here: Beaulieu Ice House) is built from both red and also white (Beaulieu buff) bricks stamped ‘Beaulieu’.

I think it is really important to help conserve our local heritage and Bailey’s Brick Kiln at Beaulieu had a structural survey undertaken during development to get an overview of construction and idea of repair requirements and costs. Survey and conservation work on kiln sites is part of the current ‘Rediscovering our Archaeological Heritage Project’, part of the HLF funded New Forest landscape Scheme.

Furthermore, as seen in the pictures, attached round the dome kiln was an Iron belt used to brace the structure as the bricks would expand due to the extreme heat. It allowed me to really appreciate what the labourers went through to achieve the outcome and really picture what it was like back then.

I went to inspect it when they were preparing to scan the structure both inside and out – this task was right up my street because I am fascinated by bringing history to life. The Beaulieu Kiln 3D laser scan animation created by Archaeovision generates a very detailed dataset to inform conservation work (CAD drawings can then be created and used with the engineering report as the basis for the Listed Building application by the Beaulieu Estate), provide an educational tool and act as a window into the past.

Laser scan animation of Bailey’s Brick Kiln, Beaulieu, New Forest from Archaeovision on Vimeo.


Hurst Castle WWII NAAFI

The New Forest National Park have been working with the Friends of Hurst Volunteer Group to undertake some building recording at Hurst Castle in advance of volunteer projects.

Focus has recently been on the WWII NAAFI, which was located within several of the casemates in the east wing.

The report is forthcoming however the first results include this 3D model of a WWII NAAFI kitchen range located in one of the Napoleonic wings in Hurst Castle.

You can discover more articles about Hurst Castle on New Forest Knowledge by visiting: Hurst Castle – Overview

Post Box Graffiti at Bank

Bank is a small, hamlet about 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) south-west of Lyndhurst village centre, and not far from the A35 Christchurch road. Here, there is an eclectic mix of former workers cottages together with higher status buildings constructed by 19th century cultured owners seeking country retreats – the one-time actress and prolific Victorian novelist Mary Elizabeth Braddon for example. The hamlet also boasts a pub, a telephone box and post box, but no other amenities.

It is believed that a post office (or sub-post office) did actually operate for a time in Bank, probably in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and most likely from Old Cottage, outside of which still stands a post box dating back to the reign of George V (1910-36).

Using 35 pictures from different angles, a 3D model of the post box at Bank was created the reason for this was to record the large amount of inscribed graffiti on the bricks of the post box- you can see on the model below that many letters and names such as ‘Eric’ have been carved into the red brick. Perhaps these were engraved by previous residents or tourists more recently? We would be keen to find out if you know anything more about the carvings on the post box at Bank.

Tree Graffiti in New Copse Inclosure

The New Forest boasts hundreds of arborglyphs, otherwise known as tree writing, in which words, numbers and pictures are carved into the bark of trees. It is believed that many of the markings were carved by men who conscripted to fight in the Second World War.

Often just using a name, initials or a date, you can trace the military history of the men that fought here. This gives us an indication on where they were based for the D-Day landings. Additionally, even the family history of the soldiers involved can be uncovered using the markings to re-create fascinating wartime stories.

The 25 pictures used to create the 3D model of a tree in New Copse Inclosure clearly portrays a number of dates both early (1878) and fairly recent. Due to the fact that it is a beech tree, the light coloured bark increases the visibility and so there are also some obvious letters engraved.

Some carvings are culturally or historically significant; other carvings are forms of bark defacement or recent graffiti. If you happen to see any tree in the forest which appears to have some engraved inscriptions in the bark do let us know.