A History of the Harris & Pearson Families
Kindly Contributed by Steve Pearson
E J & J Pearson
from an article printed in 1903 in 'The Industry and Railways of The South
West Black Country'
'The Industry & Railways of the South West Black Country
E. J. & J. PEARSON, Limited,
Fireclay mines and works
Messrs. E. J. and J. Pearson, Limited, who carry on the manufacture of
Stourbridge firebricks and fireclay goods at the Delph Works, and The Crown
Works, Amblecote, and Tintam Abbey Mines and Works, hold and important position
among the industrial firms of the district.
The Delph Works, we may say are central works of the firm, and their registered
offices are there.
The business was founded in the year 1860, and an important and wide-reaching
connection was built up. In 1872 the late Mr. J. W. Thomas joined the firm
which continued to develop its business, and in 1898 it was converted into
a private limited company, under the present name of E. J. and J. Pearson,
In the death of Mr. Thomas in 1902, his son Mr. C. W. Thomas succeeded
him as managing director, and during the present year Mr. G. V. Evers has
become a director of the company. From its earliest years the firm has enjoyed
a reputation for the specially high quality of its goods, and the extent
of the works and business may be to some extent gauged by the fact that
the three works named have a capacity equal to the production of a quarter
of a million of firebricks per week.
Firebricks, however, are not the only form their products take, among their
other manufacture being special bricks and tiles used in the construction
of pottery kilns, glass-house pots, gas retorts, crucibles, the lining of
blast furnaces, etc., besides special goods for exceptional classes of work,
the capabilities of the works being equal to any call upon them. The firm
produce, among other things, specially designed blocks for the setting of
steam boilers. They make some blocks, which are used in glass works, six
feet by two feet, with a thickness of a foot and half weighing over a ton
The raw material of the firebricks and other goods produced comes from
under-ground mines, the measure of the clay lying below the coal measures.
there is fireclay and fireclay, but the peculiarly valuable deposit of best
Stourbridge fireclay is in a comparatively narrow area. It is supposed to
have been derived from the Rowley Hills, the attrition of which became deposited
as silt in the region in which it is now found, stored up for man's use.
The tropical forests which myriads of years ago clothed this region were
in happy proximity to what became the fireclay strata, so that in these
later days the clay miners send up to the surface the raw material which
in due time finds its way into the kilns while the latter are supplied with
fuel from the carboniferous measures into which the ancient forests have
Speaking of this very neighbourhood, where the firm carry on their
works, a writer of James the Seconds time says: - "The most preferable
clay of any is that of Amblecote, whereof they make the best pots for
the glass houses of any in England: nay, so good it is for this purpose
that it is sold on the place for 7d. a bushel, whereof Mr. Grey has six
pence and the workmen one penny: and so very necessary to be had is it
that it is sent so far as London sometime by waggon, and sometime by land
to Bewdley, and so down the Severn to Bristol, and thence to London."
An analysis of the Tintam Abbey Fireclay is given in the "Encyclopaedia
Britannica," and is as follows: - Silica 73.82, Alumina 15.88, Protoxide
of iron 2.94, Alkalies 0.90, Water 6.45. The mines from which the
clay is wrought vary a great deal in depth, but at Messrs. E. J. and J.
Pearson's they average about one hundred yards.
The fireclay seams range from about two feet six inches in thickness up
to (in some cases) as much as eight feet. the generality of people would
perhaps regard clay as a soft and yielding material, but fireclay is extremely
hard, and is brought to the surface in blocks resembling pieces of rock.
The practice is to let this hard fireclay to lie in mounds in the open for
twelve months. By this time it is well disintegrated by the action of the
weather, and is ready for further treatment.
Following the clay through the process it undergoes, it is then brought
to a grinding mill where it passes under heavy rollers. After being
thoroughly ground, it is raised by an endless belt, and then passed over
a perforated screen. By this means the separation of any too coarse particles
is effected. This done, it is mixed with water, and being properly tempered,
it is passed through the "pug" mill and down a chute, whence
workmen wheel it away to the moulders. The floor of the moulding sheds
is heated by steam.
Here the clay which has come from the "pug" mill in a thoroughly
prepared state is moulded. This is done by hand, which is, as experience
shows, the best way of dealing with it, although machinery has
also been devised for moulding. The bricks and other goods dry gradually
in this moulding chamber, and then are ready for passing into the kiln
where they spend about a fortnight.
The first week they are "smoking" or getting rid of their
remaining moisture, and another week are burning. A few days have to pass
after this, before they are cool enough to be got out. The whole process
from start to finish, in the case of ordinary bricks, is about three weeks.
Some of the fireclay slabs and blocks which are manufactured are nearly
two months in the kiln. A kiln of ordinary capacity will hold some 28,000
When the manufacturing process is completed, goods are distributed in many
markets, not only at home but abroad: and, it may be added, that there is
a certain demand for the crude clay itself by chemists and metallurgists
and others, and it would not be difficult to find catalogues in which Stourbridge
fireclay is priced in as many pence per pound as sugar sells at.
The "Old Mine" Stourbridge fireclay, that which possesses
the most valuable qualities as a fireclay, has been drawn upon very largely
in the past, and has in certain cases been practically exhausted.
Messrs. E. J. and J. Pearson, however, possess over thirty acres of
Mine" fireclay, so that they are well furnished for meeting all the
demands of the market for many decades to come. The best Stourbridge
clay, which holds its own without challenge is an asset of this district
which has added largely to its manufacturing resources and developments.
from what has been said it will been seen that Messrs. E. J. and J.
Pearson, Limited, are among the largest caters for the supply
of fireclay goods, and will help to uphold the prestige of the
district by their production.'