William Blyth tile works was established in 1840 and while time has moved on, we continue to respect our heritage and use skills and expertise that have stood the test of time.
Barton upon Humber was once the brick and tile-making capital of Britain, due to the natural clay deposits found in abundance in this part of North Lincolnshire. The industry can be traced back as far as the seventeenth century, when the vernacular of thatch was gradually replaced with tile roofs and brick-built dwellings.
William Blyth was one of the many tile and brick manufacturers found along the Humber’s south bank. When the Brick Tax was abolished in 1850, the tile and brick industry expanded so that by the early 1890s, around 20 such manufacturers operated in the Barton area.
Today, only William Blyth survives, at the Hoe Hill tile yard and Far Ings tile works.
The current Hoe Hill works were sold to William Blyth during the 1870s. The company has made and exported its goods for many generations. One of the only significant changes to production has been the use of motorised vehicles rather than horse-drawn ones – most aspects of the manufacturing process still use traditional methods.
Alluvial clay is extruded, or extracted, from the nearby riverbank. The best quality clay for tiles is found up to six feet beneath the surface and is rich in iron.
Once the clay is formed into the required tile shape, the tiles are placed in the long, open sided drying sheds. These specially designed buildings also have vented roofs so the drying process continues throughout the year.
When the tiles are dry, they are fired in one of three coal-fired down-draught kilns, used alternately. The firing process takes about a week, during which the temperature is gradually raised up to 1,020 degrees Celsius. Towards the end of the firing process, the kilns and tiles are gradually cooled after which the tiles are drawn and graded onto pallets ready for the customer.
William Blyth produce Pantiles, Plain tiles, Ridges, Fittings and Heritage Service, available in four colours and bearing the Barco stamp. No toxic chemicals are used during the process. They can be found across the UK on new builds, heritage and conservation projects and commercial premises.
Our products are available in four colours – we use natural products and stains to create the different finishes.
William Blyth also used yet another natural commodity within its vicinity – the River Humber.
The wide estuary attracted domestic and world shipping, with sloops able to dock close to the Hoe Hill works, making for easy transportation of goods.
Present-day legislation for conservation of buildings frequently focuses on the use of matching textures and colours for product development during a renovation.
William Blyth’s products can match the original specification of buildings, which is just what a conservation developer is seeking.
In the words of a recent article, “The Hoe Hill works really is a story of unbelievable survival through times of fierce competition.”