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ruabon, wales tile manufacturer

updated sat 11 jun 05


Linda Ferzoco on fri 10 jun 05

For years, I've been a devotee of all of the This Old House-type shows and
was just watching a Classic on DIY network. One of the guys toured the tile
manufacturer in Wales and it was an education for a potty person.

They mine the clay in Wales, have been doing so since 1869 or so, and figure
there's about 60 years more clay to mine. It's a nice brown mud.

They truck it to the factory and mill it to grind the rocks down to clay
size, add water to make the right consistency and then auger it. I do mean
auger! Those mamas were huge and I think the guy said they put the clay
under more than 20,000 psi, which he said was necessary to get strong tiles.

These are quarry tiles and when extruded, come out in big, 1/2 inch-thick
sheets which are cut to 6 foot lengths. We saw the tiles being cut into
six-inch tiles.

They dry the tiles slowly he said, but given that it was done in 24 hours in
some kind of oven, it didn't seem slow to me. The tiles are stacked ON
THEIR SIDES, in groups of about six and arranged in a chevron pattern so
that the hot air circulates throughout all the shelves in the train kiln.
The tiles were sandwiched together pretty tightly so that they would develop
different colors according to how much air and heat hit them.

When viewed from above, they looked like this:

They also had some handmade glazed tile manufacture using an old press and
molding them one by one. As the tile came out of the press, the worker
performed the fettling, meaning he used his fettling knife to clean up the
edges of the tile. The tile was quite stiff and remained flat as he fettled it.

Then the pressed tile went to the glazer slation where a couple of women
were using squirt bottles to place glaze in the depressions. Unfortunately,
that was the end of the tour.

I got this info from the This Old House website.

Hafod Tileries
Ruabon, Wrexham, Wales LL14 6ET
tel. "011-44-1978-843484"