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Claughton brickworks: Green tech shifts one million bricks a week
Europe's only industrial aerial ropeway transports 300 tonnes of clay each day to a brickworks 1.75 miles (2.8 km) away – and it is all down to gravity.
Built in 1924, the ropeway in Claughton, Lancashire, is made of 25mm-thick steel and is carried above ground on trestles without using any power.
It carries clay from a quarry in Claughton Moor to Forterra brickworks.
While the technology hails from Victorian times, it is great when it comes to reducing carbon emissions.
Powered by gravity rather than electricity or fuel, the ropeway uses steel buckets to transport clay instead of polluting lorries.
Michael Peel, from Forterra Claughton, said: "It is a gravity-fed aerial ropeway.
"The weight of the clay going down pulls the empties back up so there's no actual power, it's completely free."
Buckets are emptied before they are hooked back on to the ropeway for the return journey.
A whole circuit takes about 45 minutes.
"You need to have the right weight on one side and not overload the rope on one side because it gets unbalanced and starts to bounce," Mr Peel explained.
"It's designed for 46 buckets – 23 each side."
A section of the ropeway passes over the busy A683 between Lancaster and Kirkby Lonsdale.
A metal bridge protects motorists from any falling debris.
Bricks have been made at the site for 180 years although production stopped for a few years after a fall in demand for bricks.
Now, though, Forterra employs 57 full-time staff and they produce a million bricks every week.
The company's biggest market is the housing industry in the north of England and Scotland.
It estimates there is enough shale rock in the quarry to continue operations for another 100 years.
As things stand, however, its licence from Lancaster City Council expires in 2036.
When production ends, the ropeway will be dismantled.
"When we've finally made our last brick, unfortunately the ropeway will have to be removed as the structure will be unsafe for people," said Mr Peel.
"It's a great shame as it is a sight to behold."
Forterra said the ropeway was not a heritage site and people should not stop on the A683 to take photos.
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Claughton brickworks: Green tech shifts one million bricks a week – BBC
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