This is a small family business producing bricks by the clamp method in the summer months. It was started by Mr. Pycroft's father in 1934 and the family have a history of brickmaking in Fareham and district. The bricks are multicoloured facings with a strong blue/brown/yellow colouring. They are made from brickearth brought to the site by lorries from the many house foundations being excavated on the island. Originally the brickearth seam was three to four feet thick over the site but this has been completely worked out and the shallow pit filled with town refuse. The area was then grassed and Mr. Pycroft now has beef stock breeding on the land.
There is a short length of near-standard gauge rail track which carries a traverser bearing a small hopper wagon of two-foot gauge. Temporary two-foot gauge tracks Iead from the traverser track to dumps of incoming raw material as delivered by road, the breeze and brickearth being mixed as they are hand-loaded into the narrow gauge hopper. The hopper wagon is placed on the traverser which is brought to the foot of an-incline. The wagon is then pulled to the top by a winch, powered by an electric motor. The brickearth is tipped into a hopper which feeds into a brickmaking machine, belt driven from the same motor as the winch. Mrs. Pycroft operates this machine assisted by her two sons. The bricks are stacked on special barrows and taken out to the field to dry naturally during the summer. They are covered by hacks to prevent the rain washing them apart.
When sufficient bricks are dried, a clamp is made and the bricks are burnt. Between 6o and 9o thousand are made yearly, mainly for Mr. Pycroft's own use as a builder. Most of them are used on Hayling Island, though Mr. Pycroft built 30 houses at Bedhampton and before the war the works supplied bricks to Swaythling Housing Society in Southampton. Mr. Pycroft also makes a few briquettes for decorative fire places, using the same materials. He intends that his sons will carry on the business. The works is almost a museum of brickmaking, not only because of the methods employed but also because the equipment has come from other brickworks which have closed down. Unesco have recently contacted Mr. Pycroft with a view to utilising his unique skills, which are relevant to the production of building materials in under-developed countries.
Text is an extract from A Gazetteer Of Brick And Tile Works in Hampshire by W.C.F. White