Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Lapal Tunnel Brick Company

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of California, Birmingham

1876 John Garlick (1837-1910) established the ‘Lapal Tunnel Brick Company’, named after the nearby Lapal canal tunnel. Garlick started business in 1866 with little or no capital of his own, but by the mid 1870s, he was running a successful brick and tile making business in Upper Saltley[1]. However, his Lapal Tunnel works seem to have been beset by trouble from the outset:

He boldly introduced machinery but only with disastrous results he put in machines after machine of various kinds none could be made to work satisfactorily, he was a very impulsive and quick tempered man, and became very enraged at the constant failure to get good results he proceeded to the works one Sunday morning, set about a recently installed machine with a sledge hammer, and broke it to pieces![2]

1879 Became a limited company, but by the end of the year Garlick was declared bankrupt[3].

The Lapal Tunnel brickworks were mortgaged to the bedstead makers John and Joseph Taunton, and in 1884 they issued instructions to liquidate the company to recoup their losses.[4]. The works were subsequently acquired by Smart’s Brickworks, but the site remained disused until the early 1900s.The Lapal Tunnel brickworks re-opened sometime after 1900 and new buildings, including a new ‘German’ continuous-firing kiln, were added, but by 1916 they had been abandoned again. Clay extraction for use at Smart's Brickworks continued until the 1950s[5]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'The Affairs of Mr. John Garlick’, Birmingham Daily Post, 6th Jan 1883
  2. Stephenson, A. H. (1933) The Trade Associations of Birmingham Brick Masters, 1864 to 1933.
  3. ‘Heavy Failure in the Building Trade’, Birmingham Daily Post, 18th Dec 1882
  4. London Gazette, 2nd May 1884
  5. Mason, C. (2013) Archaeological Watching Brief, Land at Barnes Hill, California, Birmingham. Bristol: Bristol and Region Archaeological Services, Report No. 2641/2013. [[1]]