The Ridgmont Brickworks were built in 1935 by the Ridgmont Fletton Brick Company, an offshoot of the Marston Valley Brick company, the two companies merging at the latter part of 1936. The London Brick Company completed their takeover of the Marston Valley in 1971.

With its 25 chimneys, this was said to be the second largest brickworks in the world. It had its own 2' and 2' 5.5" gauge locomotive-hauled railway systems, connecting to the existing Bletchley-Bedford railway line.

The entrance to the brickworks. Want to see how this looks now? Click here to find out (from the collection of John M Saunders)
The section between the brickworks and the pit was subsequently converted to 2' 6" gauge cable-hauled railway, which in turn was replaced by a conveyor belt on 6 November 1978.

The brickworks was closed in 1981 and demolished in the late 1990's to be redeveloped into the Marston Gate distribution centre.

Brogborough was sited on the top of the hill, overlooking the brickworks. Most of the houses there belonged to the Marston Valley company and were rented to employees of the brickworks.

Wages in Brogborough were based on piecework, so were much higher than those earned by those in Ridgmont working for the Bedford Estates. One resident recalls "how he left his job on a farm and went to work in the brickworks, where his wages almost trebled overnight".

The brickworks as seen from Brogborough Hill. How has the view changed? Click here to find out. (from the collection of John M Saunders)
Being a rural community, the majority of workers were employed to work on the land.

The land around Ridgmont was, and still is, owned by the Bedford Estate. This is mostly arable land.

There were two dairies in and around Ridgmont - Warren farm opposite the school and Flying Horse farm on the road to Ampthill. During wartime, milk was delivered by horse and cart rather than in the electric milk floats that we know today.

The villagers and land girls busy during the harvest season (from the collection of John M Saunders)
In Ridgmont itself there were far more amenities then we have today - there were two shoe shops and cobblers, a grocery shop, two bicycle shops, two blacksmiths, a dairy farm, a butchers shop and later on, a bakers. Click here to see a map of Ridgmont during wartime.