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Buckley Society Magazine Issue Four: Catherall's Brickworks, Buckley, 1898 to 1913 by James Bentley"

Trap Brickworks, Buckley

April 1976

Buckley Society Magazine Issue Four




1898 - 1913.



The presence of a number of books in a ruined out-house at the Trap brickworks was reported in January 1971. By kind permission of the Castle Brick Company, Mr. L.Tinsdeall, an employee of that firm and a member of the Buckley Society, and the writer investigated. The discovery brought to light several account books, wages books, and ledgers belonging to the old Catherall Brickworks and relating to the period 1890 - 1930. Most of them however had been made illegible by weather and deterioration.


In 1739, Jonathan Catherall commenced the successful burning of fire-bricks which made this industry so vital to Buckley's growth. The volumes indicated that one and a half centuries later, Catherall's was still a busy and successful concern run by the original family of whom the following were the shareholders

William Catherall (principal)

Sarah CatherallW. S. Catherall

Edward SamuelsonFrancis Catherall

Frank RobertsC. W. Wilmer

Norah CatherallEdith Catherall

The dividends ranged from £583 0s 0d to 4s 0d.


Two works were owned by the Company, viz. 'Catheralls' and 'Ewloe,' and these were situated within 100 yards of each other. The latter occupied a site now known as Ewloe Place. No trace of these buildings can now be seen but they were sited to the southwest of the Hope and Anchor public house. 'Catheralls' is still working and is known today as the Trap Works, being near the junction of the spot known as the Trap in Pinfold Lane.


The works were served by a joint horse tramway from the Wrexham, Mold & Connah's Quay Railway goods-line between Buckley and Connah's Quay at Brookhill. This line divided at the north side of Ewloe Place, and one branch went to each works. The route of the tramlines had altered over the years; before the construction of the standard gauge railway in 1861, lines from here had proceeded south easterly to the Grandstand at Burntwood before curving north to the River Dee at Sandycroft.


The Catherall Works were valued at £655 for income tax purposes in 1898. They also had twelve cottages worth £45. Several employees lived in eleven of the houses; the total rent received from them being £6 1s 2d.

Wages in July of that year were as follows:

Catherall Works £149 3s 1d

Ewloe Works 135 1s 1d

Running the horses 20 8s9d

Sidings 21 19s5d

£326 12s4d (£326.62)

This was a considerable sum of money even for those days.


The status of Buckley's rise to an Urban District Council is recorded in the May entry of 1899 when on the 31st of that month, a district rate is paid for the first time to the new council. Other 'outgoings' included a twice-yearly subscription to Mr Hurlbutt (of Davison's Brickworks) for 'Association Call.' This relates to the Buckley Traders Association, consisting of the Buckley brick-makers. Many payments were also made to journals, no doubt for advertising purposes.


Philanthropy was occasionally witnessed, for example the sum of £5 19s 3d was credited in September 1903 to Robert Peters as 'bricks for library', and again sums of money in 1906 to 'workmen in Chester Infirmary.' An interesting purchase at this time is that of a 'moleskin' from James Fraser. This item was used by mould-makers to line their moulds.


Perhaps the firm considered itself very affluent in August 1903 for during that month a 30s 0d licence was purchased for a 'male servant and carriage.' Notwithstanding this event, the cash in hand at the end of the month was only £35 8s 3d! Possibly a tragic event occurred on 7 July 1898 when 17s 6d was paid to the vet, E.P.Edwards, and on the 19th Wm. Frith was paid the sum of £33 l0s 0d for a new horse! Consternation most probably arose when the following entry was made: 'dishonoured Bill £11 12s 6d. Exp. 1/6,' while a more serious event must lie behind the brief entries of 15 March 1899:

John Griffiths. grave expenses136

A. Borsie. plan of accident1 10

Thomas Parry & Co. coffin3 50

Wright, Mold. hearse1 00

Joseph Griffiths. refreshments_____ 11 0_

£6106: (£6.52½)


Income consisted of numerous trivial sums interspersed with infrequent large sums which rarely exceeded £60. The credit balance for the first six months of 1898 amounted to £650 8s l1d. This total was composed of one large balance of over £400 and several small ones. A typical entry is seen in that made on 18 May 1893:

-To James Cosbie (Balymena)

To Goods1440 0

Carriage to Quay 80 0

Carriage to Pipes 20 0

Insurance 16 8

On account of freight: 30 0

From Gregory's (Colliery) nett 47 1

£1623 9 (£162.l9)


The collecting of orders appears to have been generally carried out by Joseph Taylor, but in 1898 reference is made to W.S.Catherall's 'Irish visit,' and later on one finds him taking on a greater role in this respect, travelling the length and breadth of Britain. By 1909, besides supervising the running of the business, he seems to have made personal calls on many of the clients. Entries for the month of May of that year were typical:

1s Liverpool21st Southport & Liverpool.

14th Lostock & Manchester 28th Ireland

17th Rochester & London


Indeed, the first part of a 656 page ledger is devoted to Irish accounts. Most of these are in the region of £l50 orders, each purchase plus carriage and insurance taking about 10% of the total. The main business took place through Dublin and firms mentioned include James Fitzsimmons & Co., Messrs Eustace & Co., Thos Henshaw & Co., Robb Bros., Robinsons Ltd., Brookes Thomas Co., I & I Cooke, &c. Other Irish ports to which Buckley earthenware were shipped included Balymena, Coleraine, Cork, Dundalk, Dublin, Galway, Larne, Londonderry, &c.


In July 1900, £14 5s 0d was advanced to Coppack Bros. of Connah's Quay for the captain of the 'Rostad' for Galway. Similar transactions occurred with the 'Fawn' for Fishguard, the 'Margaret Lewis' for Newquay in Cornwall and the 'Irish Minstrel' for Rochester at the mouth of the Thames. Shipments for Copenhagen were the most common foreign exports, although South Africa and the United States of America appear as destinations. During February 1902, a freight of 20,000 bricks was despatched to New York for £12. Barges plied between Connah's Quay and Liverpool from where goods would be re-shipped to foreign parts. The 'Annie', 'Mag' and 'Trojan' mentioned in the books and belonging to the Coppacks were 'flats' of this type. An interesting point of the shipping transactions was the payment of freight-charge to the captain of the ship and a corresponding payment to the company of a small sum of money in cash as 'commission.'


Coal for the kilns was purchased from several sources. In 1898 there were accounts with the local firms of Aston Hall, Lane End 'Dumplin', Messrs Geo. Watkinson and Padeswood Hall Collieries, and with the Wrexham area companies of Westminster and Llay Hall Collieries. By 1913, coal was bought almost entirely from two sources, viz. the Westminster and Geo. Watkinson & Co. Collieries. The latter company consisted of the Elm and Mountain Collieries, Buckley. Sand is another commodity which is recorded over the years as a purchase, the most frequent supplier being 'Noah Dan.'


The last available dividend payments noted are for August 1912. The chief holders, W.S.C. and E.T.W(alker), received a Debenture Interest of £57 plus a dividend of £140. W.S.C.'s dividend was £9 and the remaining eight shares received a total dividend of £1 7s 3d. It should be noted that these figures are roughly one quarter the amounts received fourteen years previously in 1898.


The pattern at Catherall's Brickworks during the period before the First World War was one of a family concern, under the personal supervision of the owners, dealing with old-established customers and perhaps content with merely putting enough aside for a rainy day. As Mr Micawber said, 'income £1, pay out 19s 0d - success; pay out £1 0s 1d -disaster!'






Advance Dunball Lizzie Rochester

Agnes Close Larne Lisa Dublin

Alice and Eliza Dublin Mag Liverpool*

Annie S. Africa * Maggie Brocklebank ?

Anne Brocklebank Dunball Margaret Lewis Newquay

Ann Pool Cork Marion Bridgewater

Bella Copenhagen Marjorie Cork

Celtic Rochester Mary Ann Mandell ?

Galway Maude ?

Christian Dan Dunball May Edwards Aberaeron

Claggon Belfast May Goldsmith Milford Haven

Bridgewater May Jane ?

Dunball M. Goldsworthy Dublin

C.S. Atkinson Liverpool Meirion ?

Despatch Colchester Millom Castle Colchester

Duchess Galway Miss Evans Cork

Excelsior Dunball Miss Hughes Cork

Eleanor Larne Ottowa Swansea

Belfast Pearl Clovelly

Emily Millington ? Protection Liverpool

Fawn Fishguard Reach ?

Florence Swansea Robert Brown Rochester

Florence Louise Swansea Rostad Galway

Fred Fisher Galway Sarah Lathom ?

Gordon Galway Sarah Pringle Dunball

Grace Dunball (2) Sonia & Esther Belfast

Hannah Crosdell ? Spencer Dublin

Harmony Larne Sunbeam Galway

H.A. Small Bridgewater Swansea

I & A Coppack ? Teaser ?

Ian Rochester Thomas Jones ?

Irish Minstrel Belfast Trojan Liverpool *

Isabella ? Truth-seeker Galway

Jane Aberearon Useful Swansea

Jesse Liverpool Venue Larne

Johanne ? Victor Colchester


* Re-shipping consignment



Author: Bentley, James


Year = 1976

Month = April

Building = Industrial

Document = Map

Landscape = Industrial

Transport = Water

Work = Heavy Industry

Extra = Pre 1900

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