Harris & Pearson's Office as depicted in a 97 year old catalogue print
Image of Harris & Pearson text

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, Limited.

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 each.

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 been converted.

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 bricks.

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 the "Old 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.'

A History of Harris & pearson Families

The Early Pearson Family of Kingswinford

The Will of Joseph Pearson(1735-1807)

Joseph Pearson(1776-1840)

The Will of Joseph Pearson

The Parrish Family

John Pearson (1808-1878)

George Pearson (1821-1899)

Stourbridge Industry - E.J & J. Pearson Limited

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