A Short History of Bernards Heath

Benjamin Fowler's Brickworks

Drawn from map drawn by T. Godman in 1822, entitled Plan of the Copyhold Estates in the Manor of New Lane Squillers. [Herts Records Office 10802]

Benjamin Fowler is the first Bernards Heath brickmaker that we know much about. He had three children born in St Albans, Joseph (baptised 1786), Elizabeth (baptised 1791), and Benjamin (baptised 1792). In 1794 he carried out some building work on the St Albans Session House and did further work on the Town Hall in 1800 and later years. Initially he is described as a bricklayer, although he probably made his own bricks. In 1813 he applied to enclose part of the waste at Bernards Heath belonging to the Manor of Sandridge, with a view to erecting brick kilns. He was granted "three rood or thereabout situate on the right hand side of the High Road leaving from the town of St Albans to Luton" at a rent of 10 shillings on quarter days, for his own life, and that of his sons Joseph and Benjamin. In 1822 it was reported that "Benjamin Fowler is now erecting upon the waste at Bernard Heath a large shed for the purposes of his business as a brickmaker". Between 1822 and 1825 he was regularly carrying out work on the House of Correction, including the sinking of a well, and the building of a treadmill. By 1827 Benjamin Fowler, senior, had died intestate, having erected a house (Swiss Cottage) on the land he had acquired in 1813.

In 1827 the Manor Court was told that his son, "Joseph Fowler has left the pits dug by him on Bernard Heath aforesaid for brick earth in a dangerous state and the said Joseph Fowler being present in court undertook to fill in the same". It seems likely that a deep well, and steam driven pump were installed to provide the brickworks with water and that this was so successful that in 1833 permission was granted to Mr Joseph Fowler to lay the necessary pipes in the public roads, to supply water to the town. The waterworks later moved to Stonecross, and the large tanks and later water tower were notable features in the early 20th century.

Next: G F Arnold's Brickworks about 1889

See also Benjamin Fowler for significant addition information on the Fowler Family of brickmakers


Page updated March 2007