The Weald is an ancient wooded area that has remained relatively unchanged since.. ever. there are a few buildings mostly erected in the 19th century, one of which was the country home of W S Gilbert of Gilbert & Sullivan fame. The woods are full of dips mounds and hollows where clay gravel and sand were dug for the making of bricks.
The Weald area along with Harrow-on-the-Hill were used for brick-making. Although there were no brickearth deposits, claygate beds and pebble gravel on the higher areas of Harrow Weald and Harrow-on-the-Hill provided the necessary clay and sand. A brick-maker of Harrow-on-the-Hill is recorded in 1589, and the ‘surreptitious getting of a great quantity of sand’ to make bricks was an issue between Pitt and Gerard in the 1630s. Gerard, having clay but no sand at Flambards, took over 100 loads of sand from Pitt’s ground to make bricks, underselling Pitt by 6d. in the 1000. The castigation of this action as ‘against the custom of the country’ suggests that brick-making was already well established.
A brick-clamp in Weald Wood occurs in 1609–10, when, as ten years later, it was leased to Thomas Tibbald. By 1685 Matthew Bodymead owned a brick-, tile-, and lime-kiln on land leased to him on Weald Common near Bentley Corner. Other members of this old Weald family maintained brickworks throughout the 18th century at Harrow Weald, Harrow-on-the-Hill, and Pinner, until at the end of the century their property passed by marriage to the Blackwells. In 1767 and 1776 building bricks were the main product, but paving bricks and tiles were also made. The Blackwells flourished throughout the 19th century, their prosperity growing with the demand for suburban villas and workmen’s cottages. Several fine residences—Hillside, Brookside, and the Cedars—housed members of the family. Charles Blackwell built cottages for his own employees at the City of the Weald. In 1831 these housed 120 people, including the families of 26 brick-making labourers. Twenty years later there were 52 workers at the Weald works. In the 19th century the firm specialized in pots, pipes, and tiles. The Blackwells relinquished their interest in Harrow Weald in the 1890s, but brick-making continued at Clamp Hill into the next century. The Blackwell family name will be familiar to those in the UK from the food products made in association with the Crosse family. Crosse & Blackwell is a brand name that would be recognised by most in the UK.