The next phase of the demolition of one of Bedford’s most famous landmarks has been approved and will see the chimneys of Stewartby Brickworks replaced by a ‘memorial’ chimney and heritage interpretation scheme.
An application for developers to demolish the chimneys due to safety concerns was approved in January 2018. This week Bedford Borough Council approved a legal requirement to the permission for demolition that they say “preserves the historic importance” of the chimneys.
Historic England and Stewartby Parish Council opposed the demolition saying at the time that they believed the chimneys should be “protected for the heritage of the whole of Bedfordshire”.
However, council officials say that while they were “active and conscientious in carrying out its role in protecting the heritage of the listed Chimneys… public safety must of course come first.”
In testing the chimneys failed Eurocode limits for resisting wind loads. This led to Network Rail also raising concerns for train safety near the site, even closing the line nearby when winds exceeded 50mph.
A Bedford Borough Council spokesperson added: “The decision on Monday was the result of making and sealing of a legal agreement to provide a replacement chimney and heritage interpretation scheme following the forthcoming demolition of the Chimneys.
“This will ensure that the historic importance of these Chimneys will be recognised and memorialised, giving local residents and future generations the opportunity to learn about Bedfordshire’s role in brick making, and how it shaped much of our county.”
The Stewartby Brickworks are a symbol of Britain’s brickwork industry. Brick making in Bedfordshire dates back to the 1930s. There were originally 32 but only four 70m (230ft) tall chimneys remain.
Stewartby Brickworks produced 500 million bricks a year but closed in 2008 due to not being able to meet modern emission limits.
Hanson have previously said they intend to build 4,000 homes on the site. We have approached them for further comment.