Bream Heritage Walk

44 – Brockhollands to Whitecroft Road at footpath sign

At the bottom of the hill, down the road and along a short road to the right, are two large buildings. Outside they look alike but inside they are quite different. The first was built as two semi detached houses. The other building , called Paisley House, was actually one house at that time but had two sets of stairs and while designed to be two was always a single property.

As you walk up the road notice the farm across the field to your left. This farm is shown on the 1881 OS map as “Brookhollands Farm”. Beyond it, in the hollow flowing from right to left, is the Tufts brook. The farm we see was once part of Pastors Hill estate but it was sold off in 1920. There was very little else in the way of buildings in this area shown on the 1881 map and even less on an 1870 map. Thus the origin of the unusual name Brockhollands may possibly be the brook in the hollows.

Where the brook joins the River Lyd, at the bottom of the valley and just 500m from here, is what was once known as Tufts Junction.

Near Tufts Junction was Tufts Chemical Works. It was actually a wood distillation plant where pieces of wood stacked in metal boxes were heated in sealed metal ovens for about 24 hours. The gasses released were condensed in a water tank and then distilled to produce wood alcohol, a form of Methanol. A by-product of the process was tar which was in demand for waterproofing local fences and roofs. The main product was charcoal which was sent away by rail.

Harry Price worked here for a while and described the effects of the woodsmoke:

“There was always a delightful smell of woodburning which to the dismay of other members of your family, you took home with you in your clothes. But by many it was regarded as being a healthy atmosphere in which to work, and many mothers brought their young children when they had whooping cough, to take them through the smoke, as this was supposed to be one of the most beneficial treatments for this complaint. And of course it was free. I am inclined to think that this was true as rarely did you find any of the workers off with coughs or colds”.

Harry Price

On the right, facing us from behind the electricity transformer, are a pair of semi-detached houses from the housing estate that did get built. Oddly they are on Knox Road – which should have run along the top of the field. To help the postman, the track at the back of houses was named Knox Road – but they are numbered 14-17.