York Handmade plays pivotal role in stunning new control tower

The award-winning York Handmade Brick Company has played an important role in the creation of a stunning new airfield control tower at Brackley in Buckinghamshire.

York Handmade, based at Alne, near Easingwold, supplied 100,000 specially-made bricks for the hexagonal control tower at Turweston Flight Centre.

The contract is worth £130,000 for York Handmade, one of the leading independent brickmakers in the UK.

York Handmade were approached by David Owen, owner of Turweston Flight Centre, after Mr Owen had seen York Handmade’s impressive Maxima bricks at the base of the iconic Shard building in London.

David Armitage, chairman of York Handmade, commented: “It was a tremendous honour to be asked to provide so many bricks for such a prestigious project. The new control tower at Turweston is an exceptional building, utterly at home in its surroundings.

“Our long thin Maxima bricks, which are becoming increasingly popular, provide a distinctive and sensitive look. It was crucial we got this look right, otherwise the new tower would have looked utterly out of place in its distinctive airfield environment.

“It was especially pleasing that our bricks at the Shard, of which we are very proud, led to this prestigious order. It is often forgotten that the Shard is not just made of glass! The bricks there are a great advertisement for our work, right in the heart of London,” said Mr Armitage.

David Owen explained: “In selecting bricks for this important project, I was looking for a buff colour.  In my search I looked at several new buildings and when I saw the Shard base, I felt it was as close as I was likely to get to what I wanted.

“Initially I was under the impression that the bricks were imported, so when I found they were made in England, that was a bonus. I was also worried about batch variation and particularly the making of specials, as we were building a hexagonal building and wanted to recess the windows and doorways. I also wanted the long, narrow Roman-style brick,” explained Mr Owen.

“I was very pleased to discover, when I contacted Ted Ward, York Handmade’s area agent, and subsequently visited York Handmade at their headquarters, they were able to provide exactly what I wanted. I did look at other manufacturers but most were not interested in specially-made bricks; they were just maximising volume.”

The new control tower, which also comprises offices, a flying school and a café, was designed a hexagonal building to reflect the triangle of land lying within the three original Second World War runways at Turweston.

David Owen added: “We couldn’t have been happier with the results and the process couldn’t have been easier. The building has been extremely well-received and the level of our business has increased. Thank goodness for well-run family businesses like York Handmade”