1772 – 1853
A brickmaker who left his distinctive mark on Maidenhead.
Charles Cooper was born in Great Marlow, but the family moved to East Street in Maidenhead shortly afterwards. Charles was mayor of Maidenhead in 1851 and 1852, but it is in the field of building – and specifically brick and tile making – that he is best known.
In the 1770s, Charles’ father John was contracted for building work on the new river bridge. He was also a contractor on the building of the Guildhall (the former Town Hall), and in 1801 he secured the contract to build the new meeting house for the Society of Friends (Quakers) in Back Lane (now called West Street).
The demand for bricks grew in the early 19thcentury and in 1825 John established Coopers Brick & Tile Works at Pinkneys Green, which then passed to his son Charles, and later to his grandson John Kinghorn (1822 – 1909). Their distinctive terracotta was made out of the red clay from the Reading clay beds.
The mid-Victorian age saw the growth of Maidenhead as a residential area and many new houses were built using Cooper’s distinctive products – not only bricks and tiles but decorative mouldings and scrolls, and finials designed as dragons, fleur de lis and swans. The terracotta bear which graces the front of the Bear Hotel in the High Street was designed and built at Coopers.
In 1880 Queen Anne House, which stood at the bottom of Castle Hill, was built as a showpiece for all their products, and it was a magnificent sight as travellers arrived from the west. It was later used as a school and then a hotel, but was demolished in 1970 to make way for the new bypass.
In 1955 the business was sold to the Maidenhead Brick & Tile Works, and it finally closed in 1968. However, examples of Cooper’s products can still be seen in the old houses in Maidenhead.