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June 4, 2023
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York Handmade manufactures London’s iconic yellow bricks

York Handmade Brick Company has started to make the enduring yellow stock bricks which are used to build countless houses in London while in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Based at Alne, near Easingwold, York Handmade has received a sale for 30,000 London Yellows, with the order for an additional pair 100,000 from the pipeline.

MD Guy Armitage said: “This is a tremendously exciting and prestigious new purpose of us. There exists a massive demand for the historic yellow bricks which defined late Victorian London and we are now able to satisfy it.

“The traditional London brickworks which supplied the yellow bricks have been built on, as London expanded outwards towards Middlesex, Essex and Kent, consequently the vast majority of these bricks are produced overseas. It seems only right these a really quintessentially English brick should really be made in England.”

He explained: “The buoyant London housing business is encouraging many home-owners from the capital to buy their properties, with refurbishments and extensions, thereby fuelling the requirement for bricks to correspond to what the heck is already there. It’s provided us with an amazing opportunity.”

York Handmade is working closely with Stevenage-based Marshmoor Bricks, that will distribute York Handmade’s bricks to builders’ merchants throughout the south of England.

Alex Wheeler of Marshmoor Bricks explained: “As along with selling to key builders’ merchants who serve London, we will be promoting these special bricks to London architects.

“Originally London Yellows were made over the Thames Estuary, thrown personally, fired with coal and household waste. The refurb market and the desire for traditional forms in architecture has fuelled interest on these bricks london and York Handmade is potentially truly the only company in the UK who is going to make sure they are.

“The potential is immense. If York Handmade can manufacture these yellow bricks consistently, you will need to will provide a thousand each year,” added Mr Wheeler.

Armitage added: “There is usually a fascinating historical symmetry to the present resurgence of interest in London Yellows. There was many attributes of bricks within the regions including Yorkshire that were irresistible to the influential specifiers of history.

“For example, the architects on the Crafts and arts movement were very keen to distance themselves with the mechanisation, and uniformity of any rapidly industrialising Britain.

“This began as quickly as the William and Mary and Queen Anne period, like the buildings of Christopher Wren and also the gauged brickwork they are involving on buildings for instance Kensington Palace, the Francis Fowke designed Royal Albert Hall opened in 1871, by means of the buildings acquired towards introduction of the First World War.

“It is at this rich tradition that brick has become the fabric which enables you bridge the divide between your traditional and the contemporary, as well as give buildings a search of uniqueness and individuality.

“Nowhere is this fact more evident than where our handmade bricks from York have been included in 21st century London, including bricks officially used on buildings as prominent as the Shard, London Bridge Station, Highgate Junior School, Highbury Stadium and Carmelite House over the Victoria Embankment.”

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