Part 1 – Research
My evening was a great success!
I had many calls from residents when I handed out leaflets about the evening but I still had some doubts as to whether anyone would actually turn up. Despite my event clashing with bingo night at the residents club there were a good number of attendees and people were very keen to be involved.
With the help of my grandma I organised an interview with a a retired burner from the brick works. Lez was married to my Grandad’s sister, he was stationed in Stewartby in the war and then moved there permanently in 1944 and now he lives in the retirement homes.
I went to his house interview him and spent almost 2 hours talking with him; my grandma joined in on the conversation which helped the stories flow. This may cause the editing process to be a little more difficult but there were plenty of very interesting stories. Lez is a very interesting man and actually a bit of a rebel who stood up for his coworkers and what he believed in so I am looking forward to telling his stories.
I visited the Bedfordshire country council archives to search for interesting stories about the brickworks and Stewartby. There was a large collection of documents about the company and brick making in the county.
The eastern region was once littered with clay pits and brick manufacturing sites but of them all Stewartby (formally Wootton Pillinge) was the largest and at one point the largest in the world. In the archives I found a lot of information regarding the company growth and the building of Stewartby was highly covered as at the time Stewartby was extremely modern and innovative.
LBC was featured in the newspapers for its size and growth in its early years and in 1979-1980 it was making headlines for the scares regarding pollution acid rain and angry farmers.
At the archives there were also a large selection of the LBC magazine; the 1960s-1980s. I was able to skim through some copies and found a photo of Fred Causby who I believe to be my mother’s cousin, he worked in transport for the company as a driver. I hope to look through these magazines again to find some more of my relatives and find out more about their lives.
To begin my research I decided to reach out to any living workers from the brickworks. Some of the retired workers still live in Stewartby in cottages owned by the sir malcom stewart trust, a charitable trust set up in rememberance of the former company CEO. The retired workers can live in the cottages with reduced rent rates, grounds keepers and a warden.
I have arranged a discussion evening in the village hall fir the 16th of July where I hope to speak to these retirees and hear their stories. I printed out some leaflets and posted them through the letterboxes of the retirement village.
Within hours I had recieved a phone call from a gentleman and today I recieved another call from a lady, both of which are unable to attend the event but they want to take part in the exhibition. I also posted online about the event and have had many people respond with useful information; leading me to useful books, videos and also sending me photos. I am overwhelmed with the response of people from my small calla cannot thank everyone enough.