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“Ninety-eight buildings out of every hundred built in this country are built with Brick. Some have a concrete skin or other thin facing, but the vast majority rely for their appearance solely upon the decorative effect of their brickwork. For brickwork needs no protection against the elements. In fact, its ability to resist the penetration of rain and damp from outside, to prevent moisture from the air on the inside walls would justify its use at almost any cost – but brick buildings in practice cost less than others. And now that the technique of incorporating light steel rod reinforcement in the mortar joints is understood, there is no reasonable building design, cantilever or span, which cannot be carried out in brickwork. Phorpres Bricks of all types are available in every county in England, Scotland and Wales. Issued by London Brick Company Ltd. The largest brickmakers in the world.”

I was born in the less than glamorous city of Bedford*.

Before the family relocated to the wilds of East Anglia we lived in a small village to the South of the city just a short distance from Stewartby, a model village built for the workers of The London Brick Company – which perhaps goes some way to explain my undue affection for the LBC and their many products.

So with this in mind I was particularly pleased to find the lovely advert above on the back of a recently purchased copy of An Introduction To Modern Architecture (Pelican A61). Adverts often appear in early Penguins / Pelicans although few are as attractive as this, featuring an image taken from a woodcut by R Cotterell Butler – an English sculptor, draughtsman, architect and writer who as a conscientious objector worked as a blacksmith before becoming Henry Moore’s assistant and then an artist in his own right.

The London Brick Company Ltd advert wasn’t the only one I found in my latest batch of Penguin / Pelican finds. The advert below for the now iconic Mars bar appears, perhaps a little incongruously, in Social Life In The Insect World (Pelican A14). Using the rationing in place at the time the fine people at Mars suggest the slicing up of this “chunky candy-bar” so “every member of the family can enjoy a satisfying share of their delicious goodness”.


As you’ll have picked up by now if you drop by here on a vaguely regular basis I collect Penguin books, albeit not very proficiently, (I never really know what I’m buying when I do buy – I just tend to buy what I like the look of), and without a great deal of abundance, (I only have a few hundred – when I struck up a conversation with someone at the last AGM of the Penguin Collectors Society in Bungay they looked dismayed that I didn’t really know what I was collecting and that I had failed to commit to memory what I already owned, hey ho).

So it seems somewhat prescient that as I ramble on about a variety of things associated with the world of a certain Mr Allen Lane the latest edition of the Penguin Collectors Society bi-annual newsletter,The Penguin Collector, arrives. Thankfully membership of the Society doesn’t require proficeint or abundant collecting, just a successfully submitted subscription fee, so I’m in. And if you’re even vaguely interested in such things I’d highly recommend that you join me.

*Having only visited Bedford on my birth I can neither confirm or deny how glamorous it may or may not be. The fact that John Le Mesurier is also a son of the city though does add a little something. [As do the fine people at We Are Bedford who seem to be doing some tremendous work.]

One Response to “98 / 100”

  1. Reading – where I live – is full of brickwork. Most of the streets are lined with 19th century terraced housing built for biscuit-factory and iron workers, and all of the bricks were made of local clay. Looking out for interesting examples of brick-work is one of my favourite pleasures and although they are a very humble building material, bricks and brickwork are distinctive, regional, practical and necessary in extremely pleasing ways. That wonderful illustration you have featured here says it all – none of the fancy buildings would be possible without the brick in the middle. Thanks for sharing this!

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