Expansion into advanced composites brings third Queen’s Award for Ancon

Ancon has won a 2018 Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category, for the successful introduction and on-going development of its advanced composite, low thermal conductivity, Teplo wall tie range.
This is the third time that Ancon has been honoured in this prestigious award scheme that rewards outstanding achievements by UK businesses; it follows our Queen’s Awards for International Trade in 2015 and Innovation in 2012.
Teplo wall ties are manufactured from continuous basalt fibres set in a resin matrix; a fibre-reinforced polymer that is 70 times more thermally efficient than steel. When used to join the two leaves of a cavity wall, this material virtually eliminates cold bridging across the insulated cavity. Launched by Ancon in 2010 as part its market leading wall tie range, Teplo has had a major influence on the growth of low energy housing in the UK and Ireland, and helped future-proof traditional masonry cavity wall construction techniques, by minimising insulation thickness and wall footprint.
Whilst Ancon’s first Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2012 recognised the company’s in-house development of a unique lockable dowel for post-tensioned concrete frames, this second Innovation award has been won jointly with its external strategic partner in this advanced composite development, MagmaTech.
Head of Marketing and Innovation at Ancon, Annabelle Wilson, says:
“Ancon launches a number of new and improved structural fixings every year and invites ideas into our innovation process from both inside and outside the company. We saw potential in this new material immediately, and over the last eight years have committed our business resources to improving and extending the Teplo wall tie range as part of the Ancon product portfolio, bringing the benefits of advanced composites to mainstream UK construction.”
 Teplo-L Low Thermal Conductivity Frame Cramp
Today, the Teplo wall tie range includes Teplo-L suitable for surface-fixing in timber frame construction, the Teplo-BF with moulded safety ends that improve buildability particularly in lime and other slow-setting mortars, and the Teplo-BFR which can be resin-bonded in existing walls for retrofit applications. Teplo has been used in numerous ground-breaking developments, including the UK’s first masonry cavity wall ‘PassivHaus’, the UK’s first zero-carbon retrofit and the largest building in the UK built to the ‘Passivhaus’ standard, the University of Leicester’s Centre for Medicine.
Centre for Medicine, University of Leicester, UK
(© Martine Hamilton Knight)
Balsall Heath, Birmingham, UK
(© Martine Hamilton Knight/STO)
Ben Williams, MagmaTech’s Managing Director says:
“Ancon has proven to be an exceptional partner for cutting edge innovation. They embraced a concept that was potentially disruptive to their existing stainless steel business, promoting it with passion and commitment. Taking a truly innovative energy-saving product to this level of market acceptance in just a few years is a truly outstanding achievement, surpassing our expectations.”
Teplo Low Thermal Conductivity Wall Ties
Commenting on their latest triumph in the Queen’s Award programme, Ancon’s Managing Director, Stuart Maxwell, says:
“Winning three Queen’s Awards in seven years is an extraordinary achievement and reflects the level of professionalism with which Ancon employees, in all areas of our organisation, go about their daily business. Our focus on quality and innovation, combined with a single-minded determination to excel in everything we do, not only underpins our brand reputation in the UK but its growing significance worldwide. It is another very proud day for everyone connected with Ancon and I thank our employees - both home and abroad - our customers and our suppliers for their continued support.”
Later this year the Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire will visit Ancon’s head office and main manufacturing site in Sheffield and officially present the 2018 award on behalf of HM The Queen. Ancon representatives will also attend a royal reception at Buckingham Palace this summer, hosted by HRH the Prince of Wales and other senior members of the Royal household.
The Ancon Marketing Team discuss the Teplo range
The Queen's Awards for Enterprise are presented annually for outstanding achievements in the categories of Innovation, International Trade and Sustainable Development. Winning organisations must demonstrate the highest levels of corporate excellence combined with significant advances in performance and commercial success – making a Queen’s Award the ultimate business accolade. The awards are made on the Prime Minister’s recommendation and approved by Her Majesty the Queen.



Elegant Hillside Manor living by Heronslea

 Hillside Manor in Brookshill offers a wonderful opportunity to own a prestigious home amongst the beautiful, natural, leafy landscape of Harrow. With seven new build apartments to choose from, sitting adjacent to two distinguished, renovated listed houses, each home has been designed and finished to Heronslea’s high standards and complemented by stunning views over the surrounding green belt environment.
Michelmersh’s Handmade Charnwood 67mm Henley Red bricks in combination with handmade Antique Red roof tiles, form the striking make-up of these listed homes, with original diapered brick and curvilinear gable facade details, to give an instant impression of quality workmanship. The durable masonry materials that are selected for the development, along with their resilient endurance and thermal characteristics, create a building of lasting strength and longevity that will last for generations and is key to promoting sustainable building methods. The warm earthy clay tones complement the green hues of Hillside Manor’s manicured grounds and surrounding open fields.
Created with 21st century living features, these luxury apartments offer the highest possible specification, with the convenience of being in a prestigious and well-connected location. Hillside Manor offers tranquillity in a variety of landscaped gardens, private balconies and beautiful communal grounds. Bentley Priory is only one mile away and the apartments are also located only 30 minutes from the centre of London.
Frank Hanna, Joint Chief Executive Officer of Michelmersh, commented: “Hillside Manor is yet another stunning example of how traditional brickwork can create so much appeal through beautifully created elevations on a fantastic development to offer a unique and contemporary living experience.
“We are delighted to be supplying Heronslea with a range of our durable bricks and tiles for a number of the Heronslea developments. As a leading developer of beautiful new homes in North London, North West London and the Home Counties, Heronslea has gained an impressive reputation for high quality standards, attention to detail, and excellent personal client service, which are all reasons why we are proud to have our bricks and roof tiles associated with the company.”
The Heronslea Group’s ethos is to provide beautiful, luxury homes to today’s discerning buyers. Michelmersh is therefore proud to continuously supply natural, clay products to fulfil the prestigious developer’s commitment to detail and exacting standards, which is second to none. It is this excellence which has cultivated their impressive reputation and you can expect to buy a home that you can be truly delighted to live in.



Pioneering manufacturing research facility

The Institute for Advanced Manufacturing (IfAM) encompasses a mu

Pioneering manufacturing research facility

The Institute for Advanced Manufacturing (IfAM) encompasses a multidisciplinary team of established academics with a foundation for research, in combination with world-leading facilities, to encourage the development of new technologies and systems for the production of high-value products within the manufacturing sector. The University of Nottingham completed its pioneering Advanced Manufacturing Building in the autumn of 2017, a state-of-the art 9,011 sqm training and research facility, situated on a former brownfield site that was designed by Bond Bryan Architects and built by GF Tomlinson.


The new building is an expansion of the University’s Faculty of Engineering, with a wide variety of teaching spaces, laboratories, modern workshops and offices for a multitude of research activities, including nano-scale production, robotics, automation, precision manufacturing, 3D printing, light weight composite materials and large-scale aerospace demonstrator components.

Located on Derby Road, the building provides a new south entrance to the University’s Jubilee Campus. When entering the building, visitors are greeted by the bold, homogeneous ground floor building plinth, which displays almost fifty thousand Blockley’s Smooth Black bricks, giving a sense of durability and strength. The masonry elements are seamlessly integrated alongside the glass, timber and steel elements showcased across the facades to form an articulate composition and coherent contemporary design that sits in harmony with its immediate built environment and surrounding context.

The IfAM is dedicated to supporting UK manufacturing to revitalise the British economy through innovation and collaboration, therefore it was fitting to construct the building using British made products such as those supplied by Michelmersh, Britain’s Brick Specialists. In combination with the brick manufacturer’s ethos, the University’s current research is concerned with developing new technologies and systems for cost efficient, knowledge intensive, high value and environmentally friendly production methods. IfAM addresses the full product lifecycle from development through to manufacture, usage and disposal.

Chris Jagger, chief estates and facilities officer at the University, said: “This pioneering project delivers a fantastic addition to the university’s portfolio of unique and ground-breaking buildings and it further enhances the continued growth of our Jubilee Campus. The project has also included a replacement new building for the 62nd Wollaton Park Scout Group, which will also provide facilities for the local community.”

Sajeeda Rose, senior manager for growth deals and capital programmes at D2N2, which has contributed £5m to the scheme, said: “The new institute will align with the Government’s desire for a new industrial strategy and the university’s project will help the area attract talented people and retain skilled graduates.”

Project architect, James Woodhouse said: “This project has been a fantastic team effort and a joy to see it come to fruition. We are all thrilled with the result and believe this will help to shape the future of the UK manufacturing sector.

ltidisciplinary team of established academics with a foundation for research, in combination with world-leading facilities, to encourage the development of new technologies and systems for the production of high-value products within the manufacturing sector. The University of Nottingham completed its pioneering Advanced Manufacturing Building in the autumn of 2017, a state-of-the art 9,011 sqm training and research facility, situated on a former brownfield site that was designed by Bond Bryan Architects and built by GF Tomlinson.

The new building is an expansion of the University’s Faculty of Engineering, with a wide variety of teaching spaces, laboratories, modern workshops and offices for a multitude of research activities, including nano-scale production, robotics, automation, precision manufacturing, 3D printing, light weight composite materials and large-scale aerospace demonstrator components.

Located on Derby Road, the building provides a new south entrance to the University’s Jubilee Campus. When entering the building, visitors are greeted by the bold, homogeneous ground floor building plinth, which displays almost fifty thousand Blockley’s Smooth Black bricks, giving a sense of durability and strength. The masonry elements are seamlessly integrated alongside the glass, timber and steel elements showcased across the facades to form an articulate composition and coherent contemporary design that sits in harmony with its immediate built environment and surrounding context.

The IfAM is dedicated to supporting UK manufacturing to revitalise the British economy through innovation and collaboration, therefore it was fitting to construct the building using British made products such as those supplied by Michelmersh, Britain’s Brick Specialists. In combination with the brick manufacturer’s ethos, the University’s current research is concerned with developing new technologies and systems for cost efficient, knowledge intensive, high value and environmentally friendly production methods. IfAM addresses the full product lifecycle from development through to manufacture, usage and disposal.

Chris Jagger, chief estates and facilities officer at the University, said: “This pioneering project delivers a fantastic addition to the university’s portfolio of unique and ground-breaking buildings and it further enhances the continued growth of our Jubilee Campus. The project has also included a replacement new building for the 62nd Wollaton Park Scout Group, which will also provide facilities for the local community.”

Sajeeda Rose, senior manager for growth deals and capital programmes at D2N2, which has contributed £5m to the scheme, said: “The new institute will align with the Government’s desire for a new industrial strategy and the university’s project will help the area attract talented people and retain skilled graduates.”


Project architect, James Woodhouse said: “This project has been a fantastic team effort and a joy to see it come to fruition. We are all thrilled with the result and believe this will help to shape the future of the UK manufacturing sector.”


New housing minister announced

A new housing minister has been appointed .

In the recently renamed department – the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government – Dominic Raab is the 16th minister in two decades to take on the role and is set to work with the re-appointed Sajid Javid.

Part of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet reshuffle, Raab’s move will see him replace Alok Sharma, who had been in the position since June 2017

Enhancing your online experience

 Michelmersh marks the start of 2018 with further innovation in the form of its newly released contemporary website. This significant upgrade has improved the layout, design and functionality of for an ever-increasing customer base. The fresh interface follows an intuitive composition which can allow visitors to seamlessly explore the site to reach their desired page. The site also features updated download areas for the news, gallery, technical and BIM (Building Information Modelling) sections.
Frank Hanna, Joint Chief Executive Officer of Michelmersh, commented: “This state-of-the-art website, showcases our extensive range of quality products and services in a clean and succinct style. Our site must cater to self-builders, architects, specifiers, contractors and house builders, therefore it was important to ensure that the site was both aesthetically pleasing and completely user friendly. We aimed to create a data rich website that did not feel cumbersome to the user. Given that the majority of us now use multiple devices to access information on the internet, we needed to ensure that the new site would be compatible and optimised for everyone, expanding our ability to reach further audiences. We hope that this responsive new site provides a better experience for all.“
The site also features Carlton, Michemersh’s most recent acquisition, alongside the other core prestigious brands, displaying its broad spectrum of high quality, durable bricks produced from its manufacturing base in Yorkshire. The new responsive design allows for optimum viewing on phones and tablets whilst also featuring an advanced fast loading search facility alongside the traditional, easy to use product search which uses colour, type and texture to narrow down the product exploration. In addition, it is now very simple to view the total product offering of Michelmersh on one single, wide-view page. This allows the user to view and compare the full colour palette of tones, hues and textures across the vast arcade of high resolution sample panels on offer by the Group.
When viewed on larger screens, the new wide contemporary layout and full width gallery really comes into its own, showcasing Michelmersh’s product and project photography to its full potential. Product pages have also been drastically enhanced to now feature several other useful options below the main technical data of the selected brick, paver or roof tile. This includes a ‘view similar products’ area which displays other sample panels of related colours or textures and a ‘new product specific gallery’ which provides real life examples of the selected product in the built environment. The new scroll and load, news and FAQ sections give an interactive and engaging interface.
Michelmersh continues to lead the industry by offering quality customer service and specialist advice through technical support. It is committed to doing its utmost to facilitate an easy process from specification to delivery and has therefore created a new updated technical area on the website, with current data. The brand new file download pages, which have been created for all products across the range, demonstrate Michelmersh’s attempt to continue to be at the forefront of BIM.
Overall this website upgrade has greatly enhanced the whole user experience, navigating and distilling product information with improved visuals and data.


Michelmersh collects Supreme Winner Award at 2017 Brick Awards

Michelmersh was awarded the ultimate accolade at the 2017 Brick Awards ceremony,  the 41st Brick Development Association annual event, on Thursday 9th November. As a result of the British Manufacturer’s premium quality products and first-rate customer service, Michelmersh was announced the winner of several categories; including Best Urban Regeneration & Large Housing Development (above 25 units). Britain’s Brick Specialist continued its success throughout the evening by collecting the most prestigious award, the Supreme Award for South Gardens, designed by Maccreanor Lavington Architects and built by brickwork contractor Lee Marley Brickwork Ltd.
Michelmersh started the evening, delighted to have been chosen as winners of the Award for Large Housing Development (above 25 units), presented to South Gardens, which specified Freshfield Lane Lindfield Yellow Multi, Selected Light, Selected Dark and First Quality clay facing bricks to complement its impeccable design.
The judges commented: “This is an estate regeneration project of fine resolution, creating high density homes with a real sense of place. The high quality of detail design and construction, carried through from macro to micro scale is to be applauded.”
South Gardens is the first phase of Lend Lease’s Elephant Park Masterplan, set to deliver 2,500 new homes, 50 new shops, restaurants and a centralised park, which aims to restore nature into the heart of the city. South Gardens currently delivers 360 new homes across eight buildings, over three plots, which comprise of three storey townhouses, seven to ten storey mansion blocks and a 16-storey tower. The development is one of the world’s rare founding projects that is included in the inspirational environmental initiative: The Climate Positive Development Program, which was set up by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group to challenge the world’s greenest major urban regeneration projects and to become models for large-scale cityscapes of the future.
Having been awarded the Supreme Award for South Gardens, the penultimate prize of the evening, the judges said: “The choice of bricks are well made, with numerous types and colours providing interest throughout while linking the existing surrounding Victorian context with that of the emerging redevelopment. The quality of the brickwork is exceptional, given the difficulties of the project having such a variety of detail within the elevational design.”
Dujardin Mews in Enfield, designed by Karakusevic Carson Architects and Maccreanor Lavington, also specified Michelmersh, Freshfield Lane bricks and won the award for Best Urban Regeneration Project. The judges applauded City Brickwork, the Brickwork Contractor, for their involvement, highlighting that this development is an example of how simple legible streets can be created using housing to transform the lives of residents by offering high quality places to live. The project has been described as what ‘council housing can and should be’.
Frank Hanna, Joint Chief Executive Officer of Michelmersh, said: “We are extremely proud to receive such recognition across a range of categories, in particular, The Supreme Award. This is testament to our workforce’s commitment to maintaining our high-quality standards and unrivalled attention to detail. These attributes allow us to continue to make our bespoke products, and materials of choice for acclaimed and renowned architects across the UK. Michelmersh plays a key part in supplying quality bricks to these superb built environments that local communities will enjoy and live in for generations to come.”



Carlton’s Capital Collection, the perfect match

In July, Michelmersh Brick Holdings PLC was pleased to announce its acquisition of Carlton Main Brickworks Limited, a highly respected regional brick manufacturer, operating from a 93-acre site brickwork based in Barnsley, Yorkshire. The Michelmersh Group has since acknowledged Carlton as one of the UK’s most recognised and prestigious brands. It has therefore integrated its strong product offering into a ‘Carlton’ division, which operates alongside the Group’s other five premium brands; Blockleys, Charnwood, Freshfield Lane, Michelmersh and Hathern Terra Cotta.
The Carlton Main Brickworks factory was first established in the 1880s and currently manufactures up to 37 million wirecut bricks per year, with a wide variety of popular housing developer, building contractor and self-builder associated product ranges.
In September, Michelmersh published an engaging brochure to showcase the Carlton Capital Collection, which highlights its durable, versatile and above all, affordable range.  The collection comprises eight brick types, presenting a variety of colours and textures that are meticulously designed to match 20th Century brickwork.
Demonstrating the British manufacturer’s ability and reputation to create, market and sell, beautiful, durable and natural looking bricks, Michelmersh has taken their recently refreshed Product Portfolio marketing literature and replicated its clean and fresh approach for the Carlton Capital Collection. The useful and practical guide to the Carlton Capital Collection will be distributed and featured in local builders’ merchants throughout the country, aiming to demonstrate the way in which Carlton Capital bricks complement both post-war and modern architecture. These products are essential tools of the trade with fantastic frost resistant characteristics. Displayed in a versatile range of colours and textures, they ensure that local builders are able to choose the right brick from merchant yards, first time round.
Frank Hanna, Joint Chief Executive Officer of Michelmersh, commented: “The acquisition of Carlton gives the Group the ability to expand its quality product offering in line with our premium-centric core strategy, which gives us access to new regional markets with cross sales opportunities and product synergies. Carlton also brings with it a popular and highly regarded RMI focused product line up in the Capital Collection range. These products will assist our continued expansion and delivery of top quality products for our valued builders merchant customer base.”

3000 mile pedalo journey across the Atlantic for mental health

In memory of Charlie Waller, Max Mossman will set off on a 3000-mile pedalo journey across the Atlantic, voyaging from Gran Canaria to Antigua to raise money and awareness for mental health in young men. Joining Max on this expedition in January 2018, are Hector Turner, Paddy Johnson and Henry Quinlan, who were inspired to partake in the journey after their friend sadly took his own life, aged 28. This will be the first time the route has been attempted by pedal power alone; the first time four people have ever pedalled across any ocean; and potentially the fastest man-powered crossing of the Atlantic.

The goal is to raise money for the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, which was set up in memory of Charlie by his parents. The aim of the trust is to educate people in recognising the signs of depression, to ensure expert advice is available when people need it, and to equip young people to look after their mental wellbeing. A primary goal of the trust is to contribute towards the removal of the mental health stigma that exists in our society.

The vessel, a 9m x 2m pedalo, made from carbon fibre and powered by a propeller is now under construction, and it is due to be completed by September, with the hull complete and the pedal system being designed by naval engineers in Exmouth. The team will complete the crossing in 2-hour continuous shifts, day and night, as two members of the team pedal, whilst the other two rest. Battling waves of up to 50 feet, the team expects the journey will take them approximately 40 days to complete, estimating that they will endure over 4,900,000 pedal rotations over a distance that is the equivalent to 5x the distance between Lands End and John O’Groats.


Max passionately explained: “All of the team have close friends who have been affected by depression and mental illness, noticing the profound effect it can have on families. In many suicide cases the family often says that they had no idea the sufferer had any problems. We want to do what we can to help put a stop to cases like this, we believe it is vital that sufferers understand they are not alone and help is available.

He continued: “Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 35 and it is imperative to stand up and talk about mental health symptoms in the public sphere. Michelmersh, as a business are keen to support sufferers of depression and mental health and immediately came on board to support us on our mission and to contribute to the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. Through our campaign’s publicity, our team have already succeeded in highlighting this issue, in helping others to get the help they need before it’s too late. We hope to reach our target fundraising goal and we very much look forward to our voyage early next year!”


Pedal The Pond has already secured sponsorship from a wide variety of companies, including Michelmersh Brick Holdings PLC, which has enabled the team to make the innovative boat-build a possibility. The team raised a spectacular £21,000 for charity in 28 days via a crowdfunding campaign in July, with a target of £200,000 by the end of 2018.

Find out more about Pedal the Pond or the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust on the following links:

Please also donate to their charity at the following fundraising link:



Precision made, premium quality, handmade bricks by Charnwood

Known as the UK’s largest producer of traditionally handmade bricks and specials, produced from its manufacturing base in Leicestershire, Charnwood combines the highest durability characteristics with the ability to tailor bespoke products to your exact specification to produce a premier finish. Two recent unique projects have used quality, premium Charnwood products to form inspiring architecture that encompass distinctive designs.
Stepping Stone House, in Hurley, is a 150sqm multi-room garden house extension located in the grounds of Hurley Manor House. Shortlisted for a RIBA South Regional 2017 Award, architecture practice ‘Hamish and Lyons’ has accomplished a beautiful design, which seeks to embrace the essence of nature using organic structure, natural materials and daylight.
Hamish Herford from Hamish and Lyons Architects, commented: “Brick is used as a non-structural facade/rain screen that wraps around both ends of the buildings. The key design objectives in choosing brick were to relate to the context of the existing brick manor house facades and to create the striking impression of a monolithic, rectilinear form, floating effortlessly above the ground and water.  Charnwood I-line Hampshire Red was chosen for its rich, uniform colour and extra length to emphasise the horizontal/ linear aspect of the building. Stretcher bond and a recessed motor joint served to
Stepping Stone House, Photograph by James Brittain
highlight the unique materiality of each brick.  Particular attention was given to the junctions between the brick, steel structure and glass to emphasise the precise nature of the building.” 
Additionally, Charnwood Henley Red Bricks were used by Fletcher Priest Architects in the construction of Buckingham Green, designed to improve the public realm on a site which lies at the edge of St James’ Park, close to Parliament and Westminster Abbey. The development comprises of four floors of offices with twelve long term tenancy apartments above. Combining a  range of different characteristics of the site, such as the late Victorian ornamented brick buildings with beautiful, mature trees, allows Fletcher Priest’s design to make a fantastic, contemporary addition to the site.
Harvey Thorp, Managing Director of Thorp Precast Limited, explained: “The Architects’ decision to select such high quality, richly coloured, handmade facing bricks has proved to be an inspired choice, allowing us to successfully combine modern methods of precast construction with traditional hand thrown clay processes to create distinctive external brickwork façades. The task of creating the ornamented brickwork pattern, which is intended to wrap seamlessly around the building envelope, was made significantly easier with the use of highly crafted, accurately formed, and evenly coloured blended bricks. The stepped interlocking brickwork relief pattern has largely been achieved by clever design, innovative 3D mould technology, and highly efficient methods of installation. The contribution of premium quality Charnwood bricks has also been pivotal in helping us deliver the highly decorative brickwork.
“This is not the first-time Thorp have worked successfully with Charnwood products from Michelmersh Brick Holdings PLC, combining the very latest precast technology, and off site manufacturing techniques with the use of traditional UK brick materials to help continue an outstanding legacy for unique, highly attractive, and sustainable brickwork facades.”
Charnwood continues to deliver precision made, premium quality products for every project. With the large, rich and diverse range of contemporary schemes that it has undertaken in the past 12 months, knowledge and experience are second to none. 



Timelessly authentic finish for exclusive apartments by Heronslea

Heronslea Group, a leading developer of prestigious new homes, with a reputation for high quality standards and attention to detail, has launched its newest development called ‘The Residence’ this month. It showcases nine exclusively designed apartments, each individually styled and equipped with exclusive facilities, high specifications and cutting-edge technology. The materials used in the construction are second to none, boldly featuring Freshfield Lane’s popular Danehill yellow bricks, which are blended simultaneously across the facades of these impressive homes. Set to raise the expectation of buyers, ‘The Residence’ offers luxury lateral living, with private pools and breath-taking views, boasting direct access to central London in just half an hour. 
Located on the sought-after Camlet Way road, on the edge of Hadley Common, the development sits in a prime position surrounded by ten acres of ancient woodland. The warm, ‘earthy’, timelessly authentic facades, with rich umber hues and bright, yellow variations in the bricks, complement the lush, green landscape of the neighbouring natural context. Clamp fired stock bricks have always been a long lasting, sustainable building material, which will keep their beautiful appearance for years to come and have proved to be a perfect match for Heronslea’s most recent design. 
Jason Rishover, CEO of Heronslea Group commented: “This is our most prestigious development to date and we are extremely proud of the homes we have created here. We have blended the latest technology, with the finest design and the best craftsmanship, to create nine very special individual homes. This craftsmanship is predicated from the foundation up, contributing the best, most durable and aesthetically pleasing materials, including the specification of top quality Danehill Yellow bricks from Michelmersh. The comprehensive service and blending process undertaken by the British manufacturer to create the eloquent exterior of ‘The Residence’, could not be faulted, having produced a frontage with a grand presence to match Heronslea’s high quality hallmarks.  This, combined with exceptional interiors, impressive interior design, private pools and terraces with views of treetops, makes ‘The Residence’ a breathtaking development.”  

Frank Hanna, Joint Chief Executive Officer of Michelmersh, added: “We continue to strive to deliver top quality products for top quality architecture. ‘The Residence’ is added to a long list of prestigious developments that we are proud to have been involved in. The craftsmanship and exceptional attention to detail on display, is testament to Heronslea’s ability to deliver exclusive living which is always in high demand.”  


Guild of Bricklayers National final 2017

On Wednesday 21st June, Luke Neville and Tyler Pearce took part in the Guild of Bricklayers National final at Derby College. They progressed to the final after winning their respective junior and senior categories, at the London regional heat. This the second year running, Brooklands College has had two finalists.

Luke and Tyler competed against 9 other regional heat winners, from around the UK and Wales. The junior category is a five hour competition and the seniors six hours. Luke and Tyler felt confident and were focused prior to the judges starting the competition. On the stroke of half past nine, the judges started the competition. Both Brooklands students made a confident start, showing good skills. At the lunchtime, the halfway stage; both students were on schedule to complete their models in the allotted time.

The junior models were marked after the five had elapsed. They were double checked by two pairs of Guild of bricklayer’s judges. The same happened after the senior category had finish. Now the nerves heightened as the scores were tallied up. At the presentation, the judges commented on the high standard of work in both categories. Luke Narrowly missed a top three position. After a very tense count down of third, then second, it was time for the winner to be announced. ‘ the winner is Tyler Pearce from Brooklands College’ This equates to the title of number 1 brickwork student in the UK!


We are Britain’s Brick Specialists

As ‘Britain’s Brick Specialists’, Michelmersh, the UK’s premium producer of bricks, pavers and roof tiles, has released a new corporate video, exhibiting the Company’s innovative brands that have become some of the most trusted names within the construction sector. With advancements in the Company’s latest technology processes, new designs and innovation, Michelmersh continues to retain its reputation for beautiful, durable and natural looking clay pieces to satisfy wider audiences.
The video demonstrates the Company’s outstanding reliability, unparalleled workmanship and high product performance to meet any design requirement. Laid in harmony with their environment, Michelmersh’s clay products command a strong character to every development and a charm that is truly deserved. 
Renowned for high quality clay products, the Company offers its clients a bespoke service, including handmade blending and high standards of quality assurance. Each item is carefully tailored to exact specifications to achieve a perfect finish and lasting durability. The combination of traditional strength and its impressive attainment of modern construction standards ensures that Michelmersh continues to build for the future, shaping and leading its industry.
Michelmersh’s clay units are in demand throughout the UK for both public and private sectors and across a multitude of developments, ranging from schools and hospitals to theatres and offices. It continues to fulfil sensitive conservation requirements to compliment contemporary designs and to form inspiring architecture. The company believes it has a responsibility to offer a wide cross section of colours and rich textures to gratify all desires and the most stringent of planning requirements
With substantial experience in both traditional and modern schemes, the Company’s teams offer a research and development service that is yet to be rivalled. Evolving the design alongside the client’s conceptual ideas remains crucial to Michelmersh’s ethos so that the bespoke forms and desired blends are achieved. 
Enhancing our built environment for generations to come’
Frank Hanna, Joint Chief Executive Officer of Michelmersh, commented: “We hope this video will show that by combining unbeatable quality in volume productions, professionals can rely on us. Our design advice, superb interpretations and a first-rate customer service are given to every project, no matter the size.”
Dominic Barretto, Managing Director of Yellow Jersey PR, said: “The video offers investors a fantastic insight into the latest technology and manufacturing processes. It highlights the extensive scale of the Michelmersh production plants and this new corporate film encompasses inventive marketing techniques to match the Company’s strong product demand. Michelmersh's ongoing commitment to investment in manufacturing upgrades means that the Group is increasingly well placed to increase output efficiency and to maintain its reputation for exceptional product quality.”
Michelmersh is committed to providing the finest level of support with all of its premium products, designed to perform as beautifully as they look and enhancing our built environment for generations to come.The video is featured via the company website and YouTube channel on the following links:    OR    OR

Throwing clay bricks with Duggan Morris Architects

Britain’s Brick Specialist is always looking for ways to highlight the importance of education, knowledge and experience amongst all parties throughout a construction project, involving the design, use and production process of clay products. This is why Michelmersh was extremely enthusiastic to invite a team of designers from award winning Duggan Morris Architects and representatives from EH Smith, to Charnwood, the prestigious Leicestershire based plant. Eight architects grasped the opportunity to get their hands dirty and learnt how to ‘throw’ clay bricks. 
David Storring, Technical Director of Duggan Morris Architects said: “As the largest producer of handmade bricks in the UK, Charnwood is an impressive and specialist brickworks. We were given a full tour of the works by the Charnwood team and we were able to see the complete process from raw clay to final packaged bricks. We were shown the benefits of the handmade process, ranging from special brick moulds to full-scale terracotta casts. Later, we had the opportunity to try it out ourselves, firstly ‘throwing’ our own bricks (each of our best bricks were initialled and fired for us), and then laying our own brick walls under tuition from the on-site bricklayer. Thank you to EH Smith, Michelmersh and all at Charnwood for such an insightful, inspiring and interactive day out.”
Michelmersh is the UK’s premium producer of bricks, pavers and roof tiles with a wide variety of innovative, popular brands that continue to attract the attention of leading design practices. Its products and services have become the most trusted and renowned within the construction sector, as competitors now look to Michelmersh for pioneering ideas to stimulate, motivate and enthuse the younger generation.
Frank Hanna, Joint Chief Executive Officer of Michelmersh, commented: “Architects traditionally draw brickwork in their design proposals and rarely get the opportunity to physically feel the clay and watch the process from start to finish. We hope that Duggan Morris felt inspired by watching this natural material transform into our bricks, offered in a comprehensive selection of colours and textures. Whilst we continue to see a revival in modern brick architecture and a demand for strong craftsmanship values, we hope that our ethos and processes exceed the expectations and demands of our clients.”
Michelmersh continues to showcase the ingredients of raw clay materials that transform into remarkable, tactile products. By using the most cutting-edge technology and refined traditional methods, Michelmersh will continue to deliver highly demanded, beautifully crafted, durable products that complement the most outstanding architecture, both traditional and contemporary, to improve our built environment.
Michelmersh achieves creditable first audit RoSPA scores

Accidents are the biggest threat to individuals in the UK, with current figures stating that 14,000 people each year pass away as a result of accidents. For almost 100 years, The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has worked to change both legislation and attitudes, performing an instrumental role in shaping our society to prevent millions of deaths or serious injuries. Through varied activities such as campaigning, research, influencing legislation, informing and educating, auditing and providing expert consultancy to businesses, it is the leading advocate for the wellbeing of families everywhere. It helps to put an end to unnecessary suffering at work, on the road, in the home, and at leisure.
Michelmersh became a member of RoSPA in 2015 and has since strived to achieve the society’s mission: ‘to save lives and reduce injuries’. The first QSA audit of the manufacturer was conducted in 2016, with the auditor identifying that culturally, health and safety is an obvious priority to the management and staff of Michelmersh.
The QSA awarded Michelmersh an overall Health and Safety Performance rating of 75, and concluded that this was a very creditable score for a first audit. In addition, it received an invitation from the charity to attend as guests of the RoSPA Centenary Royal Garden Party, at Buckingham Palace on the 25th of May. RoSPA has the gracious Patronage of The Queen, and it was granted permission by Her Majesty to hold a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace as the pinnacle to its charity’s centenary programme.
Peter Sharp, Joint Chief Executive Officer of Michelmersh, commented: “Health and Safety risk reduction is at the heart of everything we do at MBH and I am proud that we have a dedicated team overseeing our proactive culture. During 2016, we decided to change our health and safety auditors with a view to further improve our safety performance above and beyond compliance. We joined and engaged with RoSPA to carry out a Quality Safety Audit, workplace and management audits across the group and we were pleased to have achieved a Health and Safety Performance Rating of 75 in our first year.”
Peter continued: “I was honoured and excited to be invited to a garden party at the palace, a truly unique opportunity, not to be missed. The event did not disappoint. Everything was perfect: the weather, food, gardens and of course, seeing the royals at close hand made for a truly memorable afternoon amongst safety friends and colleagues.”
The afternoon celebrated the work of those making a difference in the field of Health and Safety. It was a unique opportunity to enjoy afternoon tea in the beautiful gardens of Buckingham Palace and to meet other RoSPA friends. There were two military bands that provided the music and there was ample opportunity to stroll around the famous grounds. The royals in attendance were Prince Andrew and Princess Eugenie.
Amy Harris, Group Health Safety & Training Manager at Michelmersh, said: “We were delighted to have been invited to an event that recognises not only our own hard work but the hard work across all industries in preventing accidents and saving lives.  It was an amazing day and with the sun shining, it was the perfect way for the charity to mark the pinnacle of their centenary celebrations. RoSPA is inspirational in the work it does; we are proud to support it and to have been able to experience this day with its employees and our peers.”


Supporting local Romsey charity, Jane Scarth House

Cancer support centre, Jane Scarth House, has been in existence for over 20 years. It was founded in memory of Romsey resident and mother of two, Jane Scarth, whose family continues to be heavily involved with the work of the charity.

With growing numbers of people relying on the charity, the premises became too small and presented inaccessibility issues for people with limited mobility. Jane Scarth House’s primary goal is to provide emotional and practical support to anyone whose life is affected by cancer, whether it be the person living with cancer, or a family member, close friend, carer or partner. To carry out these aims the charity was kindly offered an alternative single storey premises right in the centre of Romsey. The new location was still too small for the charity to fulfil its needs as a replacement Jane Scarth House, however, an application for planning permission was swiftly submitted to extend the new premises and after few minor adjustments it was quickly approved.

The project got off to a speedy start. Planning permission was submitted in September 2016, the lease was signed in November, and groundworks began on 1st of March this year. To help support the project build 3,000 Michelmersh Hampshire Stock Red Multi ATR bricks were delivered free of charge by the British manufacturer, travelling only 3 miles from the Romsey based factory to the site.
Sue Jones, Trustee of Jane Scarth House said: “As a leading local company with a product that we knew we’d need, one of the first companies we approached was Michelmersh Brick Holdings PLC. They immediately offered us all the bricks we required for the extension, which we are extremely grateful for.”

The team at Jane Scarth House have been enormously successful in mobilising a ‘Jane’s Army’ of building material donors and tradesmen to construct the extension, building on the superb support that it currently receives from the people of Romsey.
Frank Hanna, Joint Chief Executive Officer of Michelmersh, commented: “We are pleased to have been able to support this vital local charity, with their new extension, our Hampshire Stock bricks were a great match for the project. We all appreciate the dedicated work of the charity and we’re sure that this project will mean a lot to the people of Romsey, we look forward to the new facility being officially opened this summer.”

Sue continues to seek pledges of support, stating: “We are still very appreciative of any offers of help with the extension project, and welcome any donations that will help us fund the much-valued support that we provide for local cancer sufferers and their family and friends from the house.”

A year of investment ahead

H+H is facing the uncertainties around the Brexit referendum with a resounding vote of confidence in the UK market.  The decision to go ahead with a multi-million pound investment in our Borough Green factory has been confirmed and the company is forging ahead with some genuinely ground-breaking product innovations.

The investment in the Borough Green factory will effectively replace the main production facility, allowing the comany to capitalise on more modern technology, increasing the production capacity and also improving the consistent quality of the blocks produced at the plant.

Contracts have been signed with the equipment manufacturers preparing for the transformational build which is scheduled to take place during the winter of 2017 / 2018.

Managing Director of H+H, Calum Forsyth said "In making this investment, our parent company is expressing its confidence in the strength of the market in the UK. 



Bespoke modern blend with a bespoke quality and service

Michelmersh is proud to have supplied its new contemporary, handmade i-Line bricks from the Charnwood brand, for the new Ronald McDonald House located off Lambeth Road, accommodating families whose children are being treated at Evelina London Children’s Hospital. Approved by Lambeth Council in late 2014, the new building replaces Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and NHS Foundation Trust’s 20-bedroom House near Guy’s Hospital, providing a larger 59 bedroom (236 bed) facility near London Bridge.

The brief was to create a modern yet homely feel that was both welcoming and comfortable, whilst also offering an inclusive environment, central to the Charities’ ethos.
After careful consideration by AEW Architects and with the support of Lancashire Brick & Tile (LBT, one of the leading UK specialists in the supply of quality façade materials), 130,000 slim-lined i-Line bricks were selected to represent a bespoke ‘Lambeth Blend’. As one of the 14 Ronald McDonald Houses in the UK, the Lambeth Road facility will provide free accommodation on or near hospital grounds, for families of children undergoing treatment in hospital, allowing them to be by their child’s bedside in a matter of moments, whilst maintaining a degree of normal life and reducing emotional and financial strain.
Michelmersh is always keen to work with LBT, which is now in its 26th year of trading, while they both share the same ethos as conscientious material suppliers, with bespoke services. LBT specialises in getting deeply involved in the design at concept stage, offering its architectural sector clients the best possible bespoke products. Additionally, Michelmersh and LBT have been working closely together on two other current schemes, to specify the same quality handmade contemporary products from the Charnwood I-Line range this year. The first scheme, a brand new bespoke modern themed house, designed for a retired architect, which uses the roman style brick alongside modern cladding after passing York’s conservation office’s sympathetic requirements. The second scheme is also in York and consists of a farm building refurbishment where the same Architects practice; Bramhall Blenkharn also convinced his client to use the 327x 42mm Winnington Blend handmade brick due to the resounding successful results on the house and to give the farm a more contemporary aesthetic.
Simon Jones, Consultant at LBT stated: “Having worked with Michelmersh over the past 30 years, I have always had an affinity with the Charnwood brand. One of the first large projects (Booth`s Supermarket in Knutsford) taught me at an early stage that Charnwood was the place to go for a high-end bespoke product. So years later, it came as no surprise, when AEW Architects approached us in reference to the Ronald McDonald House with sensitive planning issues, that we turned to Michelmersh. The building sat alongside Lambeth Palace, meaning that the local Heritage Planning department were also keen for a sympathetic material to be specified. However, as a high priority for project architect Alex Southall, the building was in need of a contemporary appearance, suggesting the linear clay module. It was therefore inevitable that the project would end up on Charnwood`s books, as I knew they could easily adapt to different sizes and more importantly, would improvise to ensure the perfect blend, making sure the bricks were not only handmade but they were also perfectly mixed by hand too.”
Simon Jones then continued to praise Michelmersh’s other brands: “Blockleys continue this same ethic of quality and service, and I plan to be using their product for many more years to come. As an independent advisor to all of our clients when it comes to bricks, we always try to be unbiased when it comes to recommendations. But in truth, we know that we can rely on certain manufacturers to do a professional job on every project, and Michelmersh is right there at the top.”


Bricks for Berkeley Group’s Kidbrooke Village Regeneration Scheme

One of the most ambitious regeneration schemes in Europe, Kidbrooke in Greenwich is at the centre of a masterplan to transform 109 hectares of derelict and deprived south-east London land into a beautiful and contemporary community environment. Berkeley Group’s attention to detail, quality products and workmanship throughout the public realm ensures that this Village will drastically distinguish itself from the site’s troubled past and launch itself into a modern, residential hot spot of high demand. Kidbrooke Village will cost £1bn to deliver and plays a large part in the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s quest to improve the supply of new homes for low and middle income households. The Kidbrooke site is the first brought forward by TfL, under Khan’s manifesto pledge to supply “part-buy, part-rent” shared ownership homes on publicly-owned land for first-time buyers. The mayor has insisted that 50% of all homes built on TfL land must meet his definition of “affordable”, with Kidbrooke fitting the bill perfectly.

Michelmersh secured a significant order of Freshfield Lane Selected Darks, Danehill Yellows and a bespoke ‘Kidbrooke’ Synthesis blend of bricks for the Kidbrooke scheme, as part of Sadiq Khan’s proposal to deliver 10,000 new homes to London. Deliveries started in October and the British manufacturer has been supplying the regeneration projects in the area over the past 24 months.
Frank Hanna, Joint Chief Executive Officer of Michelmersh, commented: “Its tremendous to see our sustainable and durable products continue to be specified in substantial and influential urban regeneration developments such as these. Along with specifying our Freshfield Lane clamp fired stock bricks, Berkeley have produced a high standard of contemporary elevations, perfectly suiting the local vernacular; this will no doubt be appreciated by future Kidbrooke residents for many generations to come.
We are very proud to be involved with this excellent development by the Berkeley Group and we will endeavour to continue offering the highest quality products, services and craftsmanship.”

The design by architects Lifshutz Davidson Sandilands received planning consent in 2009 with construction starting later that year. The village, predominantly characterised by brick, is being built to high levels of energy efficiency - codes 3 and 4 homes, for the different phases. There will be an energy centre in the middle and extensive use of renewables, with a new park including ecology and wetland zones. Through a vision of harmonious design, collaboration of all stakeholders and consideration for all users, residents and the local community, Kidbrooke Village is sure to become a popular and successful


Mike Quinton to leave NHBC 

Following over four years as Chief Executive, Mike Quinton will be leaving NHBC at the end of January 2017. From 1st February the current Chairman, Isabel Hudson, will become Executive Chairman and Neil Jefferson, Business Development Director, will step up as Managing Director until a permanent successor has been appointed. 

Since his arrival in 2012, Mike has taken NHBC forward and led the organisation successfully through a period of significant growth in the new build sector, supporting builders to deliver high quality new homes.  

Following the announcement, Mike said, “After four years, I’m pleased to leave NHBC in a strong position and well equipped to face the challenges ahead. I leave behind an organisation making a vital contribution to the UK housing sector. NHBC is valued, trusted and relied upon by housebuilders and homeowners and I am sure the organisation will continue to flourish in the years ahead. I wish the management team and all staff the very best for the future.” 
Isabel Hudson said, “Much has changed at NHBC during the four years that Mike has been Chief Executive and the Board is grateful to him for the significant developments which have taken place under his leadership. We would like to take this opportunity to wish him well for the future.” 


Building Alliance welcomes new measures to "Get Britain Building"

The Conserative Conference was dominated by the need to build more homes with a range of key annoucements and a "White Paper" being published  later this year wahch will set out the route plan to deliver one million new homes by 2020.

The package includes the launch of a £3 billion Home Builders Fund which will provide £1 billion of short term loan funding for small builders, custom builders, and innovators, aimed at delivering 25,500 homes by 2020. This is an increase of £325 million over the previous commitment through the £525 million Builders Finance fund and the £150m Build to Rent fund - these will now be incorporated within the new combined fund.
The fund will also provide £2 billion of long term funding for infrastructure aimed at unlocking a pipeline of up to 200,000 homes over the longer term – with the emphasis on developments on brownfield land. HBF said that £1.2 billion of this £2 billion had been previously announced as the Large Sites Infrastructure Fund in 2015.

Javid also announced an “Accelerated Construction” programme paid for through £2 billion of new public sector net borrowing – this will be used to address “failures in the market”.  The government aims to use surplus public land to build faster, encouraging new developers with different models into housebuilding, and to support SMEs.

Local builders will feature more stongly in the mix to deliver the smaler sites in local cimmuuties to meet local need.
The announcement also focused on proposed changes to the planning system. While there is a focus on bringing forward brownfield sites for redevelopment there is no return to a “brownfield first” strategy, either explicit or implied.
The Government also says it intends to “strengthen national planning policy to create a “de facto” presumption in favour of housing on suitable brownfield land and to drive up density levels in high demand areas while ensuring that developments are well-designed and respect the character of the local area” 

Mike Leonard, CEO of the Buiding Alliance said " The Get Britain Building" message is as relevant today as it was 8 years ago when we starterd the campaign. This week's anoucements and the emphasis shift towards  local builders  will be vital as will the easing of planning restraints. It is critiacal however that we build these homes using British made bricks and blocks built  to last 150 years, the Government must not loose sight of tthe multipler effect on jobs and growth which comes from making it and building it in the UK."

The impact of Brexit on Construction

The lead up to the referendum, the hiatus caused by the result and the subsequent resignation of the Prime Minister saw the level of business confidence reduce and trading fall in July and August. This was however short lived as the predictions of imminent disaster failed to materialize and consumer spending remained strong.

The UK construction sector is due to decline in 2017/18 but this is more to do with the winding down of major infrastructure projects such as Cross Rail, ahead of major projects such as HS2, Heathrow Runway 3 and Hinckley Point coming on stream.
The new Government has renewed its commitment to build one million homes which will include 100000 directly combined homes on public land. The predominate tenue of these homes is likely to be private for sale or rent as cuts in grants for social housing and reduced benefits for occupiers begins to take effect. This together with a continuation of the “Right to Buy” policy will almost certainly worsen the prospects for those on the lowest incomes assessing good quality housing.

With a significant housing shortage and the economic benefits of the circular economy we can expect the building of new homes and the renovation the existing stock to remain as a priority for the foreseeable future. Manufacturers are currently investing in new capacity to produce core materials such as bricks and blocks and there is a lot of work commencing around the need to address the long-term skills supply.

The construction industry must now set out its business case for migrant skilled construction workers to continue to be allowed to work on the UK.  The volatile nature of the industry which includes significant fluctuation in demand means that access to migrant workers, particularly for major projects is critical.

This will be achieved, not least because the UK has been built with the help of migrants for hundreds of years.  To continue this practice makes good economic and social sense as all our efforts to increase the supply of skilled workers living within the UK will not be sufficient to meet demand and replace the 30% of our workforce we expect to leave through retirement.


High satsifaction amongst new home owners

Eight out of ten Housing Association residents remain pleased with their homes, NHBC Foundation survey finds 
Housing Association residents remain pleased with their new homes, with 80% saying they were very satisfied or satisfied after 3-4 years of occupancy, new research has shown. Nearly two-thirds (64%) said their home was much better than their previous residence, illustrating that standards of new affordable housing are meeting expectations and often exceeding them. 

There was a high level of satisfaction with many key aspects of design, such as space, internal layout and security, and residents themselves identified a wide range of positive attributes of their new homes. 

In addition over 80% of residents were satisfied with the overall appearance of their housing development and most felt that it integrated well with surrounding buildings and met the needs of residents. However, modern living was found to challenge some aspects of design, particularly the level of storage and parking provision, according to a survey commissioned by the NHBC Foundation and supported by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

Nearly 30% of residents surveyed, were dissatisfied with parking provision. A further 27% were dissatisfied with storage space, with some residents struggling to store basic household items such as vacuum cleaners, bedding and linen, toys, shoes and even clothes. 
The adequacy of ventilation was also a concern, with 55% of those surveyed recognising one or more symptoms of poor ventilation: dampness and/or condensation (41%), mould (28%), or lingering cooking odours (10%). In addition some residents were dissatisfied with the winter temperatures in their homes and, significantly about 20% found their heating controls difficult to use. 

The findings are outlined in Affordable homes: residents’ views of quality and compared with the HCA Quality Counts surveys which take place shortly after residents move in. Conducting this survey three-to-four years after residents have moved in means they have had more time to appreciate both the longer-term advantages and consider any issues they have encountered with their new home. The results provide an important new picture of residents’ ongoing satisfaction levels.

Neil Smith, Head of Research & Innovation at NHBC said “The standards of new affordable housing are such that most residents are still pleased even three or four years after moving in, long after the initial euphoria of having a new home has worn off. 
“This is great news, but there is still room for improvement. Providing more help to residents on how to run their homes more effectively should be a priority for housing associations and developers. The research highlights increasing expectations for parking and the challenge this creates for the overall design of developments.


Michelmersh wins the Architect’s Choice Award for Whitty Theatre

On November 10th the Brick Development Association hosted the prestigious 40th Brick Awards ceremony which entailed a special accent of glamour for the ruby celebration that rewards exemplary brick design and construction. Michelmersh had yet another successful year, grasping the accolade of Architect’s Choice award for the Whitty Theatre designed by van Heyningen and Haward Architects.
Niamh Cronin, Project Architect at van Heyningen and Haward Architects, said: “The volume of the auditorium at the Whitty Theatre is expressed in brick both externally and internally. We looked at dozens of bricks to find the right colour and texture appropriate for the heritage setting of the School’s grade II listed house as well as a brick that would create a warm and intimate atmosphere within the theatre auditorium. As we could not find a standard brick to meet our requirements, a bespoke Luckley mix from the Freshfield Lane Synthesis range was created especially for the project.
The building sits elegantly within its context, and creates a state of the art theatre for students and the local community.
It has been a fantastic project to work on, and winning a brick award for the project is an honour to be proud of.”
The £3m project issued by Luckley House School is located in Berkshire and encompasses an extensive area of 985m2, featuring a 179-seat auditorium. Due to the theatre being visible on entering the school grounds, a welcoming and dynamic façade was required with a fully glazed foyer to link the four distinct blocks together. The wide variety of spaces provided include a dance and drama studio, workshop and an ancillary block containing offices, classrooms and back of house spaces. The continued material vernacular of the recently completed blocks featuring timber cladding were now contrasted with a brick block to house the theatre. The neutral blend and colour was developed after much careful research and consideration to present a brick cube that could harmonise with the opposing materials under different types of light whilst also being expressed internally in both the auditorium and foyer spaces.
The school and local community now have a warm and intimate space that is well used and in much demand. The Brick Award winner’s brochure stated: “A high degree of thought was necessary on this project which – with the sensitivity owed to the adjoining Grade II listed building – compelled the use of a bespoke solution. The blended brick of choice not only works harmoniously with the building but performs aesthetically, offering a simple appearance in a complex internal environment.”
“The unique requirements of a performance facility, such as acoustics, make this project an example of how to effectively integrate a material into an existing building achieving – beyond the ‘warm palette’ – sound functionality. Voted for by architectural students to seasoned Architects, this is one award winner that exemplifies architectural finesse.”

Land supply is at the heart of housing crisis

It would be funny if if were not so serious to see our national and local politicians and officers desperately looking for solutions to the housing crisis, that avoids dealing with the central issue of planning and land supply. In doing so they are misleading and letting down the public and a whole generation who are unable find cost effective housing solutions.
In their desperation, they have sought to blame the material providers, the bricklayers and the housing developers who invest private capital to fund housing development.

Having never built a house in their lives, our politicians are now busy telling us how to build not where to build. They seek to convince the public that shaving two weeks off the time it takes to build a house is the solution which they know not to be true. They are now actively promoting moving our house building capability offshore and importing kit houses as the alternative to building onsite.

The unintended consequence of this reckless action, if successful, would be to destroy our brick and block industry and the onsite skill base with significant unemployment resulting. This would greatly increase costs and imports at the very time that our Government are preparing for critical Brexit negotiations.

The real uncomfortable truth is that there remains an institutionalised objection to change and development in much of the country which is embedded in our communities. Instead of leading and making the case for change too many of our politicians and officers are compliant in managing a development prevention system rather than facing up to the realities of supply and demand. The irony occurs when some areas are the exact opposite, keen to push housing developments in areas that lack infrastructure and jobs where there is much less consumer demand to live.

We need a joined-up plan aligning demand for all tenures with supply providing low cost homes to rent, affordable solutions for first time buyers and a range of downsizing options for last time buyers.The Neighbourhood Planning process has been driven by false targets rather than demand and has resulted in mostly large sites being included.

We must urgently re-visit the process to identify and map the smaller infill sites that could be built out by smaller developers. We must make full use of the £5 billon housing fund which will be included in the Autumn Statement to unlock these sites and ensure they are viable. Our planners need to be proactively involved in driving this process and not just acting as gatekeepers. This is crucial to the delivery of more homes as is the re-evaluation of green belt land on the edge of built up areas, which if everyone is honest, could be developed without destroying our green and pleasant land.
At the recent Conservative Conference, there was much talk about people now being much more in favour of developments, I remain unconvinced that we have made real progress in this area, we need a much bigger grown-up conversation at local level about how we are going to make enough land available to build new homes that suit the profile of the community both now and in the foreseeable future.

The public deserves to understand that a shortage of land will inevitably result in housing to buy and rent becoming increasingly unaffordable which in time will impact on their plans for family and friends.
It is time to plan rather than react, we need to recognise that housing is a key part of our infrastructure, we must build homes to last 150 years using local materials and skilled labour creating jobs and growth. These homes must be built in areas that have good transport, health and education facilities and where there are jobs. These elements are all vital ingredients of a sustainable society.



Continued support at Brooklands ... the future’s bright

The Spectra Precision LL100N Laser Level bought from Independent Surveying Supplies in Sheffield, is a complete one man levelling crew in a case. Michelmersh purchased this professional equipment for the brickwork department at Brooklands College, responding to a social media request from tutor Christian Hatherall-Good, to help further the education of his students. Due to its automatic, self-levelling fast and accurate setups, it is the ideal equipment to aid these bricklayers of the future, expanding their comprehensive and practical skill sets. Included in the package for Brooklands College was a Seco heavy duty tripod, Seco 5 meter staff, batteries, HR320 receiver, C59 adapter and small carrying case to complete the donation.
Michelmersh has built up a substantial history of support for the College over recent years, including the donation of thousands of brick and clay products, competition trophies, branded clothing, workshop banners, professional bricklaying equipment and tools. Most importantly they have offered technical CPD’s and bespoke factory tours to give the students further in-depth insight into the Industry. The British manufacturer continues to dedicate its time, funds and general support to local educational institutions in order to see its investments come to fruition, resulting in a generation of highly skilled bricklayers.
Brooklands College’s Weybridge campus has undergone a variety of redevelopment works over the summer. New facilities such as a student reception centre, library, media centre and a state of the art construction centre were completed for the start of the new term. Part of the final redevelopment work is the construction of a new entrance to the college reception which also received another substantial free donation of bricks.
Gail Walker, the College Principal, welcomed the brick delivery stating: “Michelmersh kindly donated the bricks for this part of the building, continuing a long relationship supporting our construction students.  I am so excited as the completion day for our newly redeveloped campus gets closer; the whole building has been redeveloped to ensure current and future students benefit from first class facilities; and construction courses will be available for the first time from the new construction centre.”
Christian Hatherall-Good, Brickwork Tutor at Brooklands College said: “Michelmersh continue to proactively invest in the future generation of bricklayers. The recent donation of professional tools is a fantastic opportunity to have a laser level for the department and we are now able to teach the brickwork students how to transfer level using the latest equipment on the market. The students were excited to use the laser level for the first time on the new sensory garden at the Weybridge Campus, supporting both the learning, art and carpentry departments.”
Frank Hanna Joint Chief Executive Officer of Michelmersh, commented: “We have worked with the College over the last few years, offering a wide variety of top quality materials, CPD’s, tools and tours in order to inspire young brick work students to perform to the best of their abilities. We are very passionate about encouraging enthusiastic learning opportunities for the next generation of this age-old skill of bricklaying and in turn future proofing the next generation for our Industry. Brooklands’ students have gone on to prove their talent, achieving numerous competition wins at a high level, reflecting the hard work and attention to detail required. Michelmersh will continue to support skilled youth training, playing our part in the education of bricklaying students to ensure that they realise their full potential.”

The only genuine Hampshire stock facing brick

02A10HGZThere is only one original Hampshire stock brick in the UK and it is produced by MBH PLC’s plant in Romsey. From the heart of the Test Valley comes a stock brick that has been manufactured for over 40 years. Handmade versions in a stunning pallet of colours and various enviable textures have been in production at this local plant for over 170 years. In order to make a lasting impression, designers and house builders are specifying this prestigious, unequalled, genuine Hampshire stock brick, to enhance the built environment for many generations to come. Used to compliment both traditional and contemporary architecture, self-builders have extensively built with MBH PLC’s Hampshire stock products that can be widely seen up and down the Country.

There is historical evidence which shows that bricks have been made at the Michelmersh site for almost 1000 years. This special Reading bed clay seam produces a wealth of colours from warm oranges to dark purples which are hand blended for colour and quality, offering over 5 standard blends across the range.

MBH PLC manufacture over 5,500,000 Hampshire stock facing bricks, 3,500,000 handmade bricks and 1,500,000 handmade roof tiles each year. This carefully blended product boasts fantastic physical and technical properties, including being fully frost resistant.

The British manufacturer’s unrivalled reputation for high quality products and meticulous customer service has resulted in an exhaustive list of projects in a variety of locations and styles, all specifying this distinctive clay product. Handmade Coarse Textured Plain Red stretchers and Grey Brown headers were blended for the contemporary home in Woodridge, Newbury designed by Tompkins Rygole Architects. Frequently specified by Octagon developments, Hampshire stocks are also featured on their award winning development, Long Walk Villas in Berkshire. This elegant terrace of classical townhouses and traditional villa style properties, in an enviable position overlooking Windsor’s Long Walk, the Castle and Great Park, are built to a high specification and faced in a very popular lighter toned Hampshire stock blend.

Often imitated, never equalled

Mark Wall, Southern Sales Director of MBH PLC said: “Our high quality Hampshire range continues a lifelong legacy, providing rich bespoke brick blends to enhance our built environment for generations. This product has often been imitated but can never be equalled as we endeavour to continue manufacturing the only genuine Hampshire stock brick in the UK. Our bespoke blends offer a brick with real character to compliment any style of architecture, ensuring that this product will continue to be desired and used for future generations. We are Michelmersh Brick Holdings PLC, we are Britain’s Brick Specialist.”
Beware Prescriptive Building – Former MD of H+H Mark Oliver

12th May 2015

Beware_prescroptive_buildingIt is often said that there is no such thing as a new idea and it is with something of a weary sigh that we have listened to Brandon Lewis, Housing and Planning Minister, returning to the subject of offsite construction and suggesting it could be the magic bullet that eliminates the shortage of new homes.

It is good news to hear that housing is a priority for the Conservative government and excellent to see that politicians of all major parties recognise the need to build more new homes.  However, when a minister starts to suggest that he is in a position to dictate how the housebuilding companies who can deliver that ambition should carry out their business, then I worry.

Advocates of offsite construction frequently make comparisons between the automotive industry and housebuilding, suggesting that increasing automation, factory production and standardisation will inevitably produce the results we are looking for.

This is an interesting comparison because the track record of governments is hardly positive in the automotive sector. Government intervention in the UK car industry of the 1970s preceded a collapse and the decimation of the sector in this country.

Fortunately car production is back in the UK - but it has recovered because conditions were created to attract foreign investment from the likes of Nissan, Toyota, Honda and more recently Tata with Jaguar Land Rover and BMW with Mini.  So you would think that attempts to mimic the recovery in automotive manufacturing would focus on the more successful intervention: creating conditions that make the UK an attractive option for investment from the world’s largest building product manufacturers such as Holcim, Heidelberg and St-Gobain.

Instead of which we find an increasingly outspoken Mr Lewis suggesting that the sector will miss all of its targets unless it embraces offsite construction and making some generalised judgements on the efficacy of this method which could be considered to be highly misleading.

No-one is likely to deny that we need more housebuilding in this country – but I would contend that the government’s role is to create the conditions to allow volume building and leave it to the builders to decide the business model that will enable them to deliver.

Given my role as MD of an aircrete block manufacturer, I am scarcely a disinterested commentator, but I have also been working in the construction sector for many years in different roles and have listened to the debate about offsite construction many times.

My main concern right now is that too great a focus from Government on encouraging offsite construction will deter product manufacturers from investing in the production capacity that we need.  Having been through a really severe housebuilding recession, the manufacturers that are still supplying the sector are those that have the flexibility to reduce production, mothball plants and survive ready for the market to pick up.

We are now at the stage where existing plants are working hard to fulfil demand. Additional facilities are available – requiring investment to bring them back on stream. The last thing we want to do is suggest to the multi-national companies who own those facilities that the UK government is likely to coerce the housebuilding sector to use particular build methods that would jeopardise the market for their products.

And even if the government does chose to go down that path I don’t believe it will find a huge enthusiasm to invest in offsite construction.  Many players invested heavily in the last housebuilding boom only to have to close facilities in the downturn.

Companies including four of the top ten housebuilders vertically integrated into offsite manufacturing in either steel or timber but have since closed their factories or sold them on to other businesses that subsequently shut the doors.  Only two of the top 30 housebuilders still have their own offsite businesses.

And product manufacturers too got involved with the experiment.  Tata Steel set up its Corus Living Solutions modular building plant and then had to make 180 people redundant when it closed in 2010 along with many independent offsite timber frame businesses.

Even my company, H+H, went down this path in 2002 by opening a plant to manufacture storey high wall elements and floor panels for use in modular construction.  That factory has since been converted to produce aircrete blocks.

Not only is there anxiety over commitment to the principle of offsite manufacture, there is also nervousness surrounding the performance of schemes that embraced the concept.

For example, when John Prescott was advocating a rapid move to offsite, seven “Millennium  Villages” were built with the aim of highlighting new building techniques.  One of these, Oxley Woods estate in Milton Keynes, used flat-packed houses of insulated steel panels overlaid with cedar cladding. Designed by Richard Rogers, the development won many plaudits for the forward-thinking design of the houses. The 122-home estate is currently the subject of a £5million legal claim against Rogers’ firm brought by the developer over water penetration.

These concerns have surely contributed to the decline in the use of pre-fabrication techniques for building homes. NHBC figures suggest that the market share for new timber frame homes in England is now down to just 7%.

My own view is that the government should focus on encouraging demand for new houses and removing any barriers that prevent commercial organisations capitalising on that demand.  The previous government moved significantly in that direction with its Help to Buy initiative stimulating the private sector housebuilding sector and legislation to simplify planning helping to speed up the availability of land for development.

Once companies can be confident of a sustained demand then you can be sure they will find the most efficient way to grow their market.  My message to our politicians is simple: if you want more homes, then encourage companies to invest. Either you commit the taxpayer to funding a growth in social housing or create the conditions for private developers to thrive. Ensure there can be a reasonable expectation that there is a long-term commitment to the policy and experimentation and innovation will follow, but don’t try to force the direction in which this moves.

Carl Sargeant has returned to the housing brief in the new Welsh cabinet.

Carl_SargeantMr Sargeant has been named cabinet secretary for communities and children following the formation this week of a minority Labour government led by Carwyn Jones.

The government also confirmed its intention to build 20,000 affordable homes in the new parliament - doubling supply compared to the last time. The Liberal Democrat party said it had reached an agreement with Labour for a ‘progressive alliance’ which will include building Rent to Buy homes.

The appointment means Mr Sargeant returns to the housing brief after a 20-month absence.

Mr Sargeant served as minister for housing and regeneration from March 2013 to September 2014, before being moved to minister for natural resources in a reshuffle.

During his previous role in charge of housing, Mr Sargeant made headlines by threatening to stop grant to social landlords that do not have a strategy in place for tackling domestic abuse.

The new government was formed after Plaid Cymru reached an agreement to allow Labour to lead as a minority government, following a deadlock lasting several days.

Both Labour and Plaid Cymru campaigned on a ticket of doubling the rate of affordable housebuilding to 20,000 over the course of the parliament. First minister Mr Jones, however, did not mention housing policy in a speech this week setting out key priorities for the new government’s first 100 days.

The appointment of Mr Sargeant was welcomed by both the Chartered Institute of Housing and Community Housing Cymru.

Aaron Hill, public affairs manager at Community Housing Cymru, said: “We had a productive relationship with him when he was Housing and Regeneration minister previously, signing a housing supply pact to increase the number of affordable homes across Wales.”

Julie Nicholas, policy and public affairs manager at the Chartered Institute of Housing, added: “We now hope to see an ambitious target for affordable homes, increased capital funding to realise this target, and to continue the collaborative approach to developing joined-up housing policy and legislation, under the system stewardship of Welsh Government in the next assembly term.”