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Welcome to our first York Handmade Brick blog. Over the coming months we will be writing a series of blogs, which will not just take a look at what’s happening with us, but will also comment on the wider issues and challenges facing the building and construction industry in these testing Brexit-dominated times.

Halifax Library BricksIt gives me great pleasure to kick off our blog posts with some excellent news. Despite the uncertain economic conditions in the UK, we have just enjoyed one of the most successful 12 months in our 30-year history. We flourished in 2018, with exciting and prestigious contracts from as far afield as Cornwall and Scotland. Significantly, our most lucrative work with in the commercial property and education sectors, rather than housing, which has been our staple for a number of years.
Prestigious contracts that we completed during the year included the new Halifax Library, Pocklington School’s Art and Design Technology Centre, the House of Trembling Madness in York and the Westgate Centre in Oxford. The Halifax and Oxford projects were shortlisted for major awards in the Brick Development Association’s Awards, the Oscars of the brick industry.

Equally encouraging is that our order book is full well into this year, with upcoming projects including a £300,000 contract to build a new library at Magdalene College, Cambridge; prestigious housing developments at Lancer Square in Central London and King’s Cross; and a significant restoration project at St Albans Cathedral.  This success has enabled us to invest in a new dryer, which will speed up the production process and make us more efficient. The dyer has been built from scratch by our talented production manager Steve Pittham and is capable of handling more than 34,000 bricks at a time.

Looking ahead, it is encouraging to report that brick remains the building material of choice for many architects and specifiers across the UK. Providing the economy doesn’t implode, we anticipate a very successful and enjoyable 2019.

It is especially encouraging to report that York Handmade is going from strength to strength in the wake of our 30th anniversary. The company was founded in 1988, taking control of a redundant pipeworks in Forest Lane, Alne, with only some excellent clay being of any use for brick-making. Since then we have grown to 30 employees with a turnover of £2.5 million, with a target of £3 million this year.

The key to our success has been our loyal staff, some of whom have been with us from the very start. The factory involves many and varied skills from engineering to ceramic expertise and relies on dedication and expertise at all levels of the production cycle. We particularly value the contacts we have built up in the last 30 years with architects, planners, self-builders and developers. We look forward to continuing those relationships in the years to come.