THE Weekly News takes a look back at the proud industrial history of Highbridge, and in particular the town’s brick and tile production.
This was a major industry in Somerset in the 19th century, with more than 250 manufacturers across the county.
There were nine companies alone in the Highbridge area in the middle of the 19th Century – Apex, Thomas Basten, Abraham Board, Cothurst Symons, Cox and Company, John Prior Estlin, Johnson and Griffin, Arthur George Pitts, George and Frank Pitts.
Working conditions were particularly tough – and there were numerous strikes over low pay and long working hours.
So the next time you get home after a long day and think you’ve been hard done by, consider this: it took a major strike in 1896 to get the working day reduced to 12 hours.
And it wasn’t until 1947 that a bylaw was passed, raising the age at which people could work in the brick and tile-yards to 15.
Previously, whole families had to work to make ends meet, and in the 19th Century this included children who hadn’t even reached their teens.