1878: The First Phase of Brickmaking
An abortive attempt at Sweet Briars farm
Sweet Briars Farm (Lease to Remove Brick Earth, 1878)
The first indication that South Benfleet was being considered as a location for the manufacture of bricks and clay products came in 1878. The solicitors drew up an agreement for Jonathan Wood to lease, “Tho. Burren Indenden” the rights to, “dig out brick earth”. The lease was for a period of 21 years commencing Lady Day 1878 for the use of four fields, part of Sweet Briars Farm. The map contained within the agreement refers to an Ordinance Survey and shows the land in question to be 32 acres 2 Rod 4 Perch. Jonathan Wood is described as a, “S. Benfleet tenant farmer for life, lessee of Edward Woodward of Billericay (mortgagee)”. The lease was a very comprehensive agreement, Indenden was, “not to remove topsoil, only brick earth, level holes etc”. The lease was for a period of 21 years from, “25 March 1878, £300 sterling in advance then quarterly in advance 25 March 24 June 28 September 24 December”. The contact also states that the lessee was libel to pay a, “royalty of 9d per 1000 bricks, tiles, pipes, pots or other articles exceeding 8 million per year”.
The lease remained unexecuted, for some reason the two parties did not conclude the transaction. A search of the 1881 census returns failed to locate Thomas Burren Indenden, possibly he died before completing the leasing agreement with Jonathan Wood. There is in fact no evidence that brick making took place on this part of Sweet Briars Farm, it appears to have been used as pasture until the twentieth century. The fields now form part of Boyce Hill Golf Course after the hill of the same name; the remainder was used for residential development.