These photos of when Havelock Rec was a brickpit, come from the BGS’s (British Geological Survey) archive of assets. The BGS archives contains photographs of various sand, clay and brickpits around Bromley, taken in the days when they were being worked.
The photographs of our brickpit have been placed at the wrong place on their map overlay, but their location at ‘our’ brickpit is contained in the photograph’s caption.
These photos were taken in 1921, at the time when ‘our’ brickpit was a huge hole in the ground, and called Peill’s Brick Pit. It closed in 1934 on the death of it’s proprietor, James John Peill.
Above is BGS Geo-Scenic archive asset number P201862. Caption “The Blackheath Pebble Beds. This view is taken to show the even-bedded sand and loam passing downwards into current-bedded sands. Pebbles are rare, but a bed of them occurs near the figure.”. Incidentally, the classic outcrop of this ‘formation’ (layer of rock) is at Blackheath where it is characterised by pebble beds.
Above: BGS asset number 201860. Old Photograph number A01901. Date Taken: 01/04/1921. Photographer: Rhodes J. Caption “Looking South. London Clay overlying Blackheath Beds. The London Clay forms the beds at the top of the section extending downwards to the light coloured beds. On the left is partly hidden by a mass of dumped chalk used in making white brick. The base of the London Clay consists of a bed of pebbles up to 3 feet thick, below which are 24 feet of even-bedded sand and loam overlying 38 feet current-bedded pebbly sand.”.
If anyone can deduce which four houses – maybe Homesdale Road? – can be seen in the background, then please drop us a line!
BGS asset number 201864. Old Photograph number A01913. Date Taken: 01/04/1921. Photographer: Rhodes J. Looking south-east. The Blackheath Pebble Beds. This photographs shows the irregular distribution of pebbles in the sand and the cross bedding.
BGS asset number 201863. Old Photograph number A01912. Date Taken: 01/04/1921. Photographer: Rhodes J. Looking south. The Blackheath Pebble Beds. A nearer view of No. 01911 showing the even-bedded sand and loam overlying current-bedded sand and pebbles.
Looking at this photo you can tell things about the environment where it was laid down. The even bedded sands towards the top of the photo would have been laid down in a place where there was enough wave energy to prevent too much clay settling. The layers where the sand becomes coarser and turns into gravel would have had even more energy as the sand hasn’t settled. It is probable that the more pronounced layers were put down in an individual storm event. Towards the bottom you have a scooped shape exposed – this is a channel that was cut through the other sand by a river or tidal flow. This makes sense since it would have been part of the same estuary complex as the deposites at Elmstead woods.
(note: the fine walking stick used to give an idea of scale to the photo. And the sand martin nests)
Widmore Green Open Space also used to be a brick pit – it has a friends group, whose facebook page is here.
On several occasions, in the Victorian age, the gentlemen (and a few ladies) of the Geologist’s Association undertook field trips and studies to local features such as Widmore Pit, and the exposures by the Penge Tunnel. This drawing was done on one of these field trips in 1871 and illustrates the structures exposed in the pit walls at this time. It can be speculated how the arrival of the GA members would have been seen by the local workmen, who probably were not impressed with the scientific interest in their workplace. Many of these GA excursions were concluded by having tea at whatever vicarage or hostelry was local, before taking a train back to London.
Much thanks to Paul Rainey for his detective work in the GA archives that discovered this material. He has previously used it to compile a display in the Bromley Museum at the Priory, Orpington, but it is not clear what will become of this collection.
My interpretation of this log (and the drawing) is that it provides more details of the “high energy” “fluvial” environment in the area at the time – more of the Elmstead woods tidal estuary in which the current was generally too strong to lie down any clay except in the odd backwater. In general there is less flow than the pictures of our brickpit above, where there were gravel layers, but this is only 26 feet deep and the brickpit was probably more like 60 feet deep. The top sections in the brickpit are described as “sand and loam” so this ties in.
References for Paul’s work:
From Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society (GLIAS) http://www.glias.org.uk/:
“Lime burning was not the only extractive industry in Chislehurst. Further east (confusingly, in the area known as Chislehurst West) there were at least two brickworks on London Clay…
Sand was also extracted. Whitaker (1872) noted a large old pit in Thanet Sand on the south of the road to Bromley (ie, Old Hill) ¾ mile west of Chislehurst church. In 1866 he found that its floor was the layer of hard chalk which served as the roof of the galleries at Camden Park…”. (see the BGS photo of Camden Park Pit below):
BGS asset P201414 taken in 1889 by HC McNeill, captioned “Camden Park Pit, Chiselhurst. Chalk, with horizontal excavations, overlain by Thanet Sands.”
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