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York Handmade plays pivotal role in “magnificent” new library at historic Cambridge College

The award-winning York Handmade Brick Company has played a pivotal role in the creation of a brand-new library at Magdalene College, Cambridge.

York Handmade, based at Alne, near Easingwold, supplied more than 300,000 bricks for the £17 million building at the historic college.

The contract is worth £300,000 for York Handmade, one of the leading independent brickmakers in the UK.

David Armitage, chairman of York Handmade, commented: “It was a tremendous honour to be asked to provide our bricks for such a prestigious project. Magdalene has a rich cultural heritage and this stunning new building reflects this.

“The finished building is absolutely magnificent and provides a wonderful place for Magdalene students to work. It is one of our flagship projects over the past few years and we are proud of what we have achieved.

“Our specially chosen and manufactured red bricks and specials complement the unique surroundings and fitting in in with the College’s architecture and landscape.

York Handmade was selected primarily for the colour and the character of its brick, but also because of the company’s ability to manufacture a wide range of intricate specials and sizes to fit in with the design specified by the architect.

Mr Armitage explained:

“We supplied no less than 40 different sized or special-shaped bricks for this scheme and the quality of the brickwork is outstanding. We must pay tribute to the contractor and especially Julian Redpath, who is the site manager for Cocksedge Building Contractors Ltd.

“Julian supervised the project throughout in a highly professional manner, ensuring great diligence and care was taken with all the brickwork. This is a classic example of how brickwork should be done and how to avoid staining and efflorescence.

“One of the most significant features of this project was the substantial number of bricks and specials supplied for the internal walls. This really was a very special brickwork project,” he added.

Mr Armitage continued:

“This commission continues our strong relationship with colleges and university buildings at Oxford and Cambridge. We have provided bricks for Christchurch College in Oxford, as well as Oxford’s Said Business School, and Jesus College, Cambridge.

“It is an immense privilege to be associated with such important buildings and projects in historic and sensitive environments. It is also testament to the renaissance of brick as the building material of choice for significant and prestigious developments.”

The new library now houses Magdalene’s extension collection of books, records and archives, while creating modern teaching and study spaces, together with an art gallery. It is the college’s most ambitious building project in recent history.

A spokesman for Magdalene College explained: “We looked at various brick manufacturers to try to find a brick that would work well with the existing Pepys Library. York Handmade’s bricks were deemed the most appropriate, following the review of sample panels.

“The results in terms of blend and colouring were as expected and the bricks complement their surroundings. The service provided by York Handmade was also good.”

David Armitage added:

“I would also like to thank Ted Ward, our hard-working brick sales agent, whose contacts and commitment secured us this prestigious contract.”

For further information, please contact Robert Beaumont of Robert Beaumont Associates on 01423 323139 or 07710 127713 or at