LETTER: End of an era

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On 8th August “Keymer Tile Works” ceased production and on 19th December closed its doors for the last time.

Many generations of local families have worked there since 1873, when Sampson Copestake bought Cants and Inholmes farms and leased part of the land to experienced brickmaker Henry Johnson. Henry was manager of the Ditchling Terra - Cotta Works (which began in 1740) and in 1875, under the name of “Johnson & Co.”, was invited by Copestake to make bricks in Burgess Hill.

For the past 140 years, thousands of bricks have been made and during the past 36 years, over one hundred million hand made tiles have been used for roofing prestigious buildings all over the world.

The Burgess Hill Local History Society has collected all the available archives, photographs and some of the precious terra-cotta, but the larger items of interest have been taken to the Hassocks Garden & Heritage Centre.

The Centre is at present undergoing extensive redevelopment in order to display more of its vast collection of memorabilia, and will re-open to the public next year.

For the past 450 years, our town of Burgess Hill has been producing clay products of the finest quality, some of which can be seen in our local historic buildings, but sadly, this is now the end of a very successful industrial era, the like of which will never be surpassed.

Fred Avery (President of the Burgess Hill Local History Society)