A BRICK has come home to Stonehouse after 100 years abroad with the help of Boris Johnson and the town’s historians.

Stonehouse used to be the site of a brick factory - where the Rosedale housing estate is now - which was owned by Stonehouse Brick & Tile Co Ltd.

Bricks from the company, founded in 1891, were used in all manner of buildings, including houses, railway stations, churches, and schools.

Many were laid locally - Stonehouse Post Office and houses on Queens Road and Verney Road were all built with the bricks.

But in 1912 the company lent a hand with a project much further afield: the construction of a clocktower in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

As reported in the Gloucester Journal on August 10 of that year, thirteen railway wagons left the Stonehouse brickworks loaded with 55,000 two-inch red sand-faced bricks.

They were taken to Newport docks where they were loaded onto a steam ship, the SS Woodford, to make the trip to Buenos Aires.

Along with white Portland stone, they formed the English Tower, built to celebrate the centenary of the May Revolution in Argentina and finished in 1916.

Mr Johnson visited the tower - renamed the Torre Monumental after the Falklands War - on an official visit to the country while he was still foreign secretary in May.

There, he was presented with a Stonehouse Brick & Tile Company brick in a case as a souvenir.

After the visit, the chair of a group of English expats who had been with Mr Johnson, John Hunter, got in touch with Stonehouse historians to let them know of the former foreign secretary’s visit.

The historians already knew about the tower - one of them, Darrell Webb, had come up with the idea to raise money for a plaque commemorating their town’s far-flung connection two years before - but they wondered what Boris planned to do with the brick.

So they sent an email to his office.

“Dear Mr Johnson,” wrote Vicki Walker, secretary of Stonehouse History Group, in July.

“We, at Stonehouse History Group, were wondering what you intend to do with the brick.

“If you do not wish to retain this brick we would be very interested in looking after it for you!”

“Basically we just had a laugh about where that brick would end up,” Vicki later explained to the SNJ.

“I emailed Boris Johnson’s office there and then.”

Just over a week later, they got a response from Ann Sindall, Mr Johnson’s personal assistant..

“Mr Johnson was delighted to hear about your interest in the Stonehouse brick presented to him in Buenos Aires in May,” she wrote back.

“He would love to pass it on if it were available.”

The first stumbling block facing the historians was that Boris had not taken the brick with him. It was instead being looked after in the British embassy in Buenos Aires.

Though the historians were happy for the embassy to keep it - they were more concerned it would be discarded and forgotten - they soon got another email on behalf of Mr Johnson.

She said: “We are delighted to report that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have located the Stonehouse brick.

“The embassy are sending the brick back to London.

“Mr Johnson is happy for you to take possession of the brick.”

Luckily for the group, Darrell’s son Aaron worked in London and offered to collect the brick - partly for the fond memories it would bring of his dad, who passed away in November 2017.

So on September 25, with photo ID for Foreign Office security at the ready, he headed over to Whitehall with his brother Ryan.

Vicki later said: “We are sure Darrell would have loved to see the brick collected by his sons.”

Thanks to Stonehouse History Group for sharing this story - go to stonehousehistorygroup.org.uk to read more about the brick factory.