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Park workers make a historic discovery

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Preston’s very own time team has made a historic discovery in one of the city’s parks.

Council workers uncovered part of a former brickwork while digging a trench to install a water pipe at Fishwick recreation ground.

The recreation ground which is home to the Preston Pirates BMX club and used by a number of football teams was previously used as an athletics track and rubbish tip.

However, early in the twentieth century, and possibly the nineteenth century, the site was used to extract both sand and clay to make bricks on the site.

Park Ranger Terry Blackburn said: This is an amazing find by the lads on site and brings alive the history of the place. I would love to find out more about the brickworks.”

During digging a shallow trench, the team started to hit bricks, which were obviously parts of built structures.

About half a metre below the surface, they discovered a brick built archway crossing their trench. As they progressed, they came across a number of brick walls.

A few bricks have been uncovered bearing the maker’s name ‘J. Topping & Son, Preston.’

It is thought the small arch is part of a ventilation system for a downdraught kiln and the walls may be foundations for the kilns themselves.

Lancashire County Council’s archaeology unit have entered the find on their Sites Register and it is hoped that an archaeologist from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) will be able to examine the site before it is covered over again.

Following further internet research by the parks team one or two references to the brickworks have been found.

One suggests the brickworks operated in the mid-1900s, however the Preston Guild Rolls mentions ‘J. Topping - brick and tile manufacturer’ as far back as the first half of the 1800s.

A number of bricks have been salvaged and plans are afoot to make a planter containing flowers, to commemorate the industrial heritage of the site.

Cabinet member for environment and community, Coun Robert Boswell, said: “This is a very exciting and unusual find on a piece of council land.

“I know park rangers have kept an eye open over the years for bricks with Topping’s name on, but given that large parts of the recreation ground and Local Nature Reserve were landfill sites, there are many old bricks around – mainly from Accrington.”

He added: “If anyone can supply us with information or photographs on the Topping’s brickworks at London Road, we’d be very interested to learn more and the details could be included on interpretation boards at the site.”

To contact the Parks Service call 01772 906471 or email parks@preston.gov.uk.

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