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Baynards Works

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What: Brickworks, laboratories,
  cottages, decontamination plant and lagoons.
Where: Cranleigh, Surrey
Built: Cottages c. 1850s; Chemical Works
  1937-1980; brickworks and decontamination plant
Architect: Unknown
Abandoned: Cottages c. 1950s, Chemical
  Works 1989, Brickworks 2003
Listed: No
Visited: 2005-2017
Last Known Condition: Slowly being buried as part of remediation works.
Page Updated: April 2017

In 1937, the Steetley Chemical Company purchased a former fuller's earth and refractory clay works at Baynards near Cranleigh in Surrey. A large factory was built and was linked by private siding to the nearby Horsham to Guildford branch line. Steetley used the site chiefly for agrochemicals but other lines included polishing compounds, batteries and munitions. In 1989, Steetley ceased its chemical operations at Baynards, deciding instead to exploit the rich clay seams present on the site for brick and tile manufacture. A large factory was built to the south of the former chemical plant, which was subsequently demolished.
By this time the land around the factory had become contaminated with a potentially deadly mixture of zinc, ammoniacal nitrogen, organo-phosphates, potassium bromide, cadmium, mercury, lead and dieldrin (an organochlorine insecticide now banned in the UK). In 1990 the site was declared biologically dead.

Site plan

Contamination Area
The site remains heavily contaminated.

Although the chemical works was demolished in 1989, the laboratories remained untouched.

Brick factory
Built 1989-90, the brickworks was one of the most advanced in its time.
  The machinery was scrapped in 2008.

Trees killed by pollution
Many trees were killed by a combination of pollution and water-table fluctuation due to clay
  extraction. Only recently has new growth begun to take their place.

Sign by the entrance gate Opportunist nettle in the front office Detail of safe in the front office Shower block and laboratory stores Canteen Bathroom (fantastic curtains) Locker room Impressive collection of '80s Biro-porn...oh, and Rambo Biro Rambo Lads' mags. A green invasion of privacy Hot & Cold Laboratory store Planning & Publicity file Laboratory store Experiment notes Main laboratories (tightly locked) Chemical factory transformer house Chemical factory transformer house Chemical factory transformer house 'Lawns' - 1850s workers' cottages near the clay pits 'Lawns' - 1850s workers' cottages near the clay pits 'Lawns' - 1850s workers' cottages near the clay pits 'Lawns' - 1850s workers' cottages near the clay pits 'Lawns' - 1850s workers' cottages near the clay pits 'Lawns' - 1850s workers' cottages near the clay pits 'Lawns' - 1850s workers' cottages near the clay pits Vulcan bomber en-route to Dunsfold, October 2011 Brick factory Kilns and chimney Though it's been only 10 years, the factory roof is dangerously close to collapse Kiln controls Refractory ceramic fibre lining one of the kilns Refractory bricks Shadows in the factory Skared (I think this guy follows me around or something) Brick moulds Valve house Former chemical warehouse, later handmade brick factory Handmade brick factory Hand mould and letter stamps Calendar Steetley brick wrappers keeping out the draughts The end Additive shed (former chemical works stores) Additive shed Additive shed The decontamination plant was one of the last parts of the site to close down The decontamination plant was one of the last parts of the site to close down Decontamination plant pump room Caustic soda was used to filter out particulates and as a water softener Emergency showers and eye wash Wastewater lagoon Lifesaver Discarded hazard sign Site cleanup, 2017

To avoid further polluting local watercourses, Steetley opened a treatment plant near the northern perimeter of the site to decontaminate an estimated 80,000 cubic metres of poisoned water standing in the old quarry and lagoons. Steetley was taken over by Redland Plc in 1992 but the Baynards site was disposed of and became a private concern trading as the Cranleigh Brick and Tile Co. Ltd. In 2003 it was proposed to extend the firm's mineral license to March 2047 but this was not realised and the works closed soon after for reasons unknown.

In 2005 an American investment company submitted proposals to decontaminate the site by treating contaminated water, removing soil to a purpose-built secure landfill, to be funded through a housing development on part of the site. Planning permission was granted by Surrey County Council in 2005 and a completion date was set for 2008. Unhappy locals demanded a public enquiry and the Secretary of State overturned the council's decision. Hailed as "great news" by anti-housing campaigners, in reality the ruling was an environmental disaster in the making - all cleanup efforts ceased and the site was abandoned. Abnormally high levels of zinc have since been found in nearby streams, algal blooms cover the surface of the lagoons and even the broken-down decontamination plant now leaks caustic soda and sulphides, polluting the site yet further. If Baynards brickworks is ever to be made safe it will be a gargantuan task.

Epilogue, 2017

In June 2015, after numerous rejected applications, a solution for the site was finally approved by Surrey County Council. This scheme involves burying the entire site in a layer of imported clay to form an impermeable 'cap'. A small area will be used to build nineteen houses, while the rest will become a nature reserve. By Spring 2017, most of the buildings had been demolished and the factory was undergoing decontamination to remove hazardous refractory fibres. The layer of clay covering the chemical factory site was already several metres thick, though it was expected that work might take more than five years to complete. It is to be hoped that this will mean the end of one of Surrey's most polluted sites.


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