Comment from Rita Radford
As evidence of my statements please view attachments: Page from on-line brick catalogue and Council Planning Approval document. Photos of when the bricks were delivered at the Chapel in January.
Photos are appearing of the first facing bricks being laid at the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum building. At the planning stage there was considerable play made that these would be ‘special hand-made’ bricks and presumably at a Memorial to fallen RAF airmen, they would be of UK manufacture. But no, they are an imported machine-made brick, nothing special, manufactured by the Austro-German company Weinerburger AG.
The company’s product name for the brick being used is ‘Marziale’ and it is claimed to be buff, but appears when laid to be almost white and having a textured finish they will inevitably become green with mildew! It doesn’t even appear to be the mixed colour of bricks I understood the few members of the public who bothered to attend the ‘brick selection day’ in August 2017 chose and which featured in the architect’s subsequent visualisations!
The Weinerberger company was started in Austria in the 1800s and was nearly totally bombed out of existence by the American Airforce and RAF Bomber Command during the final years of the 2nd World War. They re-established themselves after the war and in the 1980s created facilities in Germany and since then have spread throughout Europe, buying up other manufacturers on the way, and now claim to be the largest brick manufacturer in the world. Quoting from the company’s own history: ‘In 2001 there was a group wide restructuring with the focus on Germany’.
This thoughtless choice of bricks is seen particularly by the generation who experienced the war as disrespectful. It is further evidence, as if it were needed, of Bromley Council, its BHMM Trust and their Architect’s total lack of empathy with the St George’s RAF Chapel of Remembrance and its heritage. The impression was created that these bricks were supposedly hand crafted by an independent manufacturer, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
When it was pointed out on the BHMM Facebook page, by a member of the Church, that the bricks are not hand-made, his posting was immediately removed. Is critical comment ‘verboten’?
David Evans. Luxted Road, Downe.
Having researched Weinerberger as much as we can. They are a classic example of a company based in Austria and Germany expanding throughout Europe and into the UK, buying up everything in their wake.
The particular bricks being used for the Museum are imported from the continent and arrive at Purfleet Essex and Hull. You will notice I don’t state they are ‘made in Austria or Germany’ because Weinerberger now own so many facilities throughout Europe it is very difficult for the public to ascertain exactly where a particular item is manufactured. I thought it was only fair to point this out, the Council are now claiming they are actually made in Belgium, which is possible.
Comment from “Webmaster”
OMG. German bricks! Do Bromley Council have no morels or conscience. Do we not make bricks in the U.K any more? Do we not consider U.K. Jobs any more?
Comment from Rita Radford
You are right in pointing out that we still have brick manufacturers in the UK and they should have been supported, especially on such a project at this most sensitive of sites. We have been told, although at the moment I have not seen it in writing, that the bricks for the Chapel in 1951 came from a manufacturer in Surrey. The Chapel was built at the instigation of Winston Churchill, can you imagine him countenancing the use of foreign bricks when British bricks are available? Ironically Winston Churchill’s Great-grandson, Randolph Churchill, is the Patron of the BHMM Trust!
David and Rita