Great Linford Brick Kilns
Imagine yourself back to a late autumn day at the end of 1800s. Between the back gardens of Nicholas Mead in Great Linford and the Grand Union Canal, a gang of local residents would have been at work since dawn, digging the blue Oxford clay from two pits to feed two massive furnaces.
The men worked 12-hour days with little rest for a princely 22 shillings (£1.10) at the end of each week. They dug mostly in the winter months when the ground was softer, producing the raw material for bricks which would be fired in the kilns during spring and summer.
With 12 wet bricks weighing about 50 kilos, it was tough work. From the kilns the finished bricks then travelled by horse-drawn barge up the canal to be used building homes in New Bradwell, Wolverton, Cosgrove and Castlethorpe.
These days the only work involved is packing a flask to enjoy in this historic corner of the city. Picnic benches have been provided close to where the clay pits have been transformed into ponds, rich in bird and insect life. And if you visit in September be sure to take a bowl for the abundant blackberries and elderberries.
Need to know
To reach the site turn into Willen Lane from Marsh Drive, Great Linford.
The park is open at all times.
There is a public car park at the end of Willen Lane.
There are no public toilets at the Brick Kilns.
Refreshments can be found at the nearby local centres in Great Linford and, across the canal, Giffard Park.
Access is via good footpaths.
Make a day of it
The Brick Kilns lie directly alongside the canal, making it possible to extend your route southwards towards Campbell Park and Willen Lake, or north into Linford Manor Park.