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Bricks & Blocks

York Handmade Celebrates its 25th Aniniversary


The award-winning York Handmade Brick Company, the largest independent brickmaker in the north of England, celebrates its 25th anniversary this month.

York Handmade, which has worked on iconic buildings such as the Shard, Highbury Football Stadium and Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, was founded by chairman and manager director David Armitage in 1988.

Previously the Alne Brick Company, based in Forest Lane, Alne, near Easingwold, York Handmade now has an annual turnover of £2 million and employs 25 dedicated staff. David Armitage commented: “It has been a hugely enjoyable, though challenging, 25 years. We have grown from a very small brick factory in a North Yorkshire village to a successful and award-winning brick company that is well-known and respected on the national stage.

“The progress we have made in the last 25 years would not have been possible without the loyal service and dedicated expertise of York Handmade’s management team and our skilled employees in the factory and we owe them all a great deal,” said Mr Armitage.

When York Handmade started in 1988, the company inherited a derelict factory, which wasn’t even making bricks at all but was primarily engaged in the production of drainage tiles for agricultural purposes.

Mr Armitage explained: “When I bought the factory in 1988, the prime objective was to create a strong local business, employing local people and boosting the local economy. Now, over £2m investment later, the company boasts a dedicated modern handmade brick factory and my objective has been achieved.

He said: “Like every other SME in the construction industry, York Handmade has had to fight hard over the last five years to stay in business and to progress. We feel we have succeeded in that prime objective and are well placed to go forward for the next 25 years with confidence”.

York Handmade has a remarkable record in the Brick Awards during the past decade. These national awards, run by the Brick Development Association in conjunction with Building magazine, are the brick industry’s Oscars.

The buildings which won the awards for York Handmade were: Four Oaks in Little Bedwyn, Wilts (Best Single House); Tupgill Cellar, near Middleham, North Yorkshire (Best Craftsmanship); and Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester (Specialist Brickwork Contractor).

The judges paid tribute to York Handmade’s work at Tupgill, the home of the famous Forbidden Corner tourist attraction, saying: “It was obvious to pick Tupgill Cellar as the winner of its category. It is magical to look at. A wide variety of handmade specials were personally designed by the manufacturer and the result is outstanding.”
And the judges commended Chetham’s School of Music for “being an outstanding showcase for brick. It is a tour de force of brickwork and the beauty of the design, choice of brick and impeccable detail are very difficult to find fault with.”

David Armitage added: “It is important to stress that our three winning entries were completely different jobs in design and execution, graphically illustrating our ability to work in a wide variety of colours and styles. We believe we can tackle any brickwork project successfully.”

Meanwhile in 2009 the company was short-listed for the Best Educational Building award for its work on De Grey Court at York St John University.


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