BALLYSAX BRICK & TILE COMPANY and HERITAGE WEEK BRICK EXHIBITION

by ehistoryadmin on August 19, 2017

Ballysax Brick & Tile Company

Ballysax Brick and Tile was established on glacial tills of Ballysax south-east of Jockey Hall, the Curragh, by William Pallin who was better known as a pioneering bloodstock breeder with his main establishment at Athgarvan Lodge.

While dates are uncertain it appears it was established when there was a great deal of building work underway at the Curragh Camp. The camp buildings which were built between 1880 and 1910 consumed millions of red bricks.

Brickyards had been established at Great Connell and Morristownbiller to supply the camp contractors but no single yard could supply the vast quantity needed. Pallin clearly saw the “gap in the market” and established a brick factory with modern equipment in the fields to the south-east of Jockey Hall in Ballysax.

His factory featured three-kilns; two chimney stacks; and the heavy duty equipment needed to exert the brute mechanical force which ground and crushed the locally excavated aggregate and pressed the material into brick moulds. A screw press was equipped with dies which impressed the name “Ballysax Brick & Tile Company” on to the brick facing.

William Pallin died in London in Epsom Week 1907. The Ballysax brick plant was put on for sale by his executors, initially as a going concern. However it seems there was no buyer for the business as a whole and the machinery was offered in lots in 1909. This would coincide with the completion of the Camp buildings and therefore a fall in demand for bricks.

However Ballysax Brick & Tile was to surface again in 1935 when moves to revive the industry were made to resolve the unemployment crisis in mid-Kildare. Ballysax bricks still form the fabric of many buildings from cottages to barrack buildings in the locality. Indeed recently a householder restoring a cottage in Kilcullen village came across “Ballysax Brick” in the fabric of her home.

Some references from the local press to Ballysax Brick & Tile Company

From the Kildare Observer newspaper, 24 June 1905

There was high praise for Ballysax Bricks from the Kildare County Surveyor, Mr Edward Glover. He was reporting on a display of Ballysax Bricks exhibited at the industrial exhibition section of the Kildare Feis Ceoil of 1905.  While the inclusion of bricks at a cultural event might seem unusual, it was very much in line with the “Celtic Revival” spirit of highlighting all things Irish – be it music, theatre, or building materials.

From the Kildare Observer, 9 January 1909

Crushing and pressing … an inventory of Ballysax brick making equipment was published when the machinery was sold off following the death of the company founder William Pallin of Athgarvan Lodge and Jockey Hall.

From Kildare Observer, 26 January 1935

A report on an attempt to revive the Ballysax brickmaking industry after a lapse of some 30 years.

Kildare TDs William Norton and Tom Harris pushed for Government support. This was parallel with the moves to establish industries in the Newbridge/Curragh area in the 1930s of which “the Ropes” and “the Cutlery” were the most successful.

Author query: any reader who might be able to shed light on the 1935 revival is invited to contact Liam Kenny – liamkenny99@gmail.com.

Thank you. LK

 

Another brick in the wall …

exhibition in Newbridge Library, Heritage Week, 19-27 August 2017

by Liam Kenny

Bricks built the Curragh Camp and many other buildings from cottages to schools in the Newbridge area. Newbridge Library will host a display of bricks made in Kildare, Dublin, Cork, Belfast and Cavan which were used locally. Bricks from the nearby Ballysax brickyard also feature.

The exhibition can be viewed in Newbridge Library during usual opening hours.

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