Iʼm tempted to say that the Bursledon Brickworks Industrial Museum is not as interesting as it sounds, but that was probably because I wasnʼt there on one of their Gala Days when they get the machinery running, and the miniature and narrow gauge railways are in operation.
As it was, when I got there the car park was empty, and it didnʼt get a lot busier whilst I was there. I think the museum helpers out numbered the visitors by a factor of three to one. Still it meant that I got a personal one-to-one guided tour. Like it or not.
For opening times, admission prices, special events, etc. please see the official site detailed below.
The brickworks were founded in 1897 by the Ashby family. The clay was originally dug by hand in pits close to the buildings, but gradually, as the local reserves were exhausted, the clay pits moved further and further away.
At first a narrow gauge railway was installed to bring the clay back to the factory. Later an overhead cable system was installed to bring clay from the pits that now form the the lakes in the Swanwick Nature Reserve.
Unfortunately, the combination of the by now relatively poor quality clay, the distance it had to be transported, the bisecting of the site by the M27 motorway, and impossibility of adapting the antiquated machinery to meet the requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act, led to the site closing in 1974.
As someone who has driven up and down the M27 more times than I care to remember, I was fascinated to see that a special bridge was built to protect traffic from the aerial ropeway. Shame it was never used.