- I first saw the beehive shaped brick kiln at Bailey’s Hard on the Beaulieu River in Hampshire in July 1996. The following year I took a class of ten year olds on a field trip to Beaulieu Village and the river. Later, this became the inspiration for my children’s novel, ‘The True History of the Silver Pocket Watch.’
Whilst on a school trip, Owen Dunne, aged eleven, finds a silver pocket watch buried outside the old brick kiln at Bailey’s Hard. Two days later, he is transported back from 1992 to the late Victorian era with his classmate, Rebecca. They need to find out why they are there and how to get back home. Click here to read the first chapter.
Brick kilns and old brickworks have interested me ever since I first saw the beehive kilns at Porth Wen on the Anglesey coast in 1985. We came upon these by chance during a family walk. Well worth a visit.
Since then, I have travelled to a number of museums, partly to research the history of brickmaking and the Victorian era, but also just for fun. Here are some of the places I visited:
- The Weald and Downland Open Air Museum near Chichester.This has an example of a horse drawn pugmill.
- The Bursledon Brickworks Industrial Museum at Swanwick near Southampton.
- Buckler’s Hard Maritime Museum in a beautiful location on the Beaulieu River.
I’ve not had time to visit the Acton Scott Historic Working Farm in Shropshire, but it is on my list of things to do.
Thanks to the archivist, Susan Tomkins at the Beaulieu Motor Museum, who found out the names of the family living at the brickworks on Bailey’s Hard in 1892 and the firm of builders who leased the premises from the Montagu family. It was a strange feeling when I discovered that the three children on the census records at that time were the same age and gender as my imaginary family.
The book is not yet published, but I’m sending it out to literary agents.
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