Ibstock Brick has a long history of brick making and industrial activity, dating back 200 years to the early 1800s. From the sinking of the first coal shaft at Ibstock in 1825, to the launch of our new i-Studio in London, Ibstock has witnessed dozens of building and brick work innovations take place.
Learn more about Ibstock’s history and navigate through key Ibstock events by clicking on the arrows below.
The first coal shaft was sunk at Ibstock by William Thirby and by 1832 coal was being transported from the colliery on what was only the third railway line to be built in Britain, the Leicester to Swannington Line.
Brick making started on the site at the beginning of the 1830’s as a way of using clay extracted during mining and the poorest quality coal that was not suitable for other uses.
The Ibstock Colliery business was sold at auction and the particulars referred to “an abundance of fire clay, which may be turned to great advantage and a good supply of brick clay, with a brickyard, kiln and large shed for its manufacture now in full work”.
The business was purchased by the Thomson family, well known mine owners with collieries in Scotland.
Ibstock Collieries Limited was incorporated and so began the roots of the today’s business.
Ibstock was producing 3 million bricks per annum but after the First War, the business climate for coal mining became more and more difficult with growing labour unrest and low cost imports from Poland and Germany.
The colliery closed and the company concentrated on brick, tile and pipe manufacture.
North Works was opened as one of the very first tunnel kilns in Britain. To recognise its new direction, in 1935 the company was renamed Ibstock Brick and Tile Company Limited. Production on the site steadily increased – by 1939 it was 10 million bricks and by 1946 it had risen to over 18 million.
A decade of expansion for Ibstock; recognising the opportunity to promote the use of bricks to architects and specifiers, Ibstock recruited a specialist sales team and started to sell bricks as an architectural item rather than as a commodity.
Purchase of Himley Brick. To help fund ambitious expansion plans, Ibstock become a public company in 1963. The proceeds were used in part to buy other brick companies.
Aldridge was purchased as was Burwell Brick, gault clay works near Cambridge. In 1966 Ibstock purchased Shawell Precast and started sticking brick slips onto a concrete backing. In 1967 Ibstock purchased Superbrix Limited, an unsuccessful venture into calcium silicate brick manufacture. However, clay brick making capacity was now 130m bricks per annum.
In 1970 in an effort to diversify Ibstock Johnsen Ltd (later plc) was formed by a merger of the Ibstock Brick with the Johnsen Jorgensen and Wettre paper pulp business. Acquisitions of other brick makers continued, in 1971 Ibstock bought Roughdales, which had recently invested in two new factories in St Helens. In 1972 Ibstock entered into the North East, buying Nostell Brick and Tile and a brickworks at Pelaw and also bought Cattybrook and its quarry at Shortwood. This brickwork’s claim to fame was that it supplied 30 million bricks for the nearby Severn Railway Tunnel. By now Ibstock’s brick capacity was up to 200 million per annum.
Ibstock set its sights overseas, buying the Van Wijck and then the Udenhaut brickworks in Holland.
Hudsons Group, with factories at West Hoathly and Laybrook and a site at Horam were purchased.
Further expansion in Europe in 1977 came with the acquisition of the Hennuyeres, Wanlin and then the De Ruiter brickworks in Holland.
All the Dutch companies were rebadged as Ruga. This expansion phase continued with the purchase in 1978 of Marion Brick in Ohio and the following year, Glen-Gery in the North East of the USA, to give a total US of 500 million bricks per annum capacity.
Unfortunately, the expansion in Holland proved unsuccessful and all the works apart from Wanlin were either
closed or sold to Redland in 1983. The world recession of the early 1980’s made Ibstock financially
vulnerable by its aggressive expansion. A bid to purchase the company came from rivals London Brick in late
1982 valuing the business at £27m. Then Redland put in a counter bid of £30m. Both bids had to be referred
to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. The MMC took 8 months to adjudicate, by which time Redland had
withdrawn and Ibstock’s own fortunes had recovered to such an extent London Brick put a revised bid in of
£52m, but the bid was not successful. Just over a year later, London Brick itself was bought by Hanson.
After such turmoil, two relatively small acquisitions were made of Telford with its Caughley Quarry in 1984
and Warners, a tile manufacturer in Berkshire.
Expansion continued in America with the acquisition of Hanley, New Jersey Shale and Midland Brick, making Ibstock the fourth largest brick maker in the US by the close of the 1980’s.
Ibstock purchased its first works in Scotland at Tannochside and then embarked on a programme aimed at restructuring the whole brick industry.
The brick making assets of Tarmac were acquired, which included the Westbrick business, in the South West, the Nottingham Brick business at Dorket Head as well as Innes Lee and Severn Valley brickworks.
Redland Brick Limited was purchased for £155m and comprised of the former Redland and Steetley brick businesses. In response to the MMC Ibstock divested some of its newly acquired capacity in the North East, South East and South West. Five works were sold to a management buy-in to form Ambion.
Ibstock acquired the assets of the adjoining Ellistown brickworks to consolidate its position of one third of the brick capacity in the UK. By the end of 1998 the paper pulp interests had finally been sold and the Irish building materials group, CRH, made a successful takeover bid for the company, valuing it at £376m. This involved the integration of Forticrete, the CRH concrete products and rooftile business into the Ibstock Group.
Ibstock Kevington, the country’s leading manufacturer of brick special shapes, arches and prefabricated chimney systems was added to the group.
February saw the group divested by CRH to Bain Capital for £400m. The new group, Ibstock Building Products
consisted of some of the building industry’s most trusted brands; Ibstock, Glen-Gery, Ibstock-Kevington,
Supreme, Forticrete and Anderton, however in November 2018 the group disposed of the US Brick Manufacturing
The group, including Ibstock Brick, Ibstock Kevington, Supreme Concrete, Anderton Concrete and Forticrete, is the UK’s largest manufacturer of clay and concrete building products, employing over 2600 people in the UK with annual sales of almost £430m. Heralding a new phase in the Ibstock story, plans for the worlds most advanced brickworks had been announced on the original site at Ibstock, almost 200 years after the story began!
In October 2015, Ibstock returned to the London Stock Exchange after a gap of 16 years in private ownership. Ibstock plc is now one of the largest building materials businesses quoted on the LSE. For more information visit www.ibstockplc.co.uk.
Glen Gery sold to Brickwork Building Products and we saw the official opening of our Eclipse Factory in Leicester.