THE famous ‘Nori’ brickworks are set to re-open seven years after the site was mothballed.

Hanson Building Products have ditched plans to sell their Huncoat site after a surge in demand for building materials since last summer.

The firm hopes to re-open the works in January, which is likely to create more than 30 jobs.

Red Nori bricks, also known as Accrington bricks’, are famed for their strength and were used to build the foundations of Blackpool Tower and the Empire State Building in Manhattan.

The Huncoat site’s closure in 2008 led to 80 redundancies, and an attempt to start up small-scale production the following year were shortlived.

But David Weeks, a spokesman for Hanson, said: “The demand for bricks has really picked up and there’s a huge amount of clay left in the quarry, so we’ve decided to hang on to the works and start up production again.

“The local clay makes an incredibly strong brick, which are perfect for the low levels and the weight-bearing parts of buildings, and we can see a market for them.

“We’ve just opened another mothballed site in Lancaster earlier this year and that’s created 37 new jobs on quite a small site.

“This will need a fair bit of investment, probably pushing up to six figures, to get the kiln and machinery all up and running, but we’re hoping to re-open by January next year.” Hyndburn MP Graham Jones said he was pleased to hear the news, but said he was also ‘slightly cautious’.

He added: “This is good news and a step forward, because people are going to gain some work from it. But we’ve seen this site re-open before and then close again. We want it to be open permanently, but first we need a national industrial strategy that’s consistent and allows firms to make long term investments.”

* Nori bricks are made from fire clay, a durable material found close to Accrington’s coal seams. Sediment left by an Ice-Age lake in the Calder Valley has also contributed to ideal brick-making material.

* They have been manufactured in Huncoat since 1887, but historically formed just a small part of the plant’s production.

* The brick’s manufacturers used to be known as the Iron Brick Company, and Nori is iron spelled backwards. One theory is that ‘Iron’ was painted on the factory chimney with the ‘I’ at the bottom and the ‘N’ at the top. Others believe the mould was put on the brick the wrong way round, explaining the name.

* The site once had its own mineral railway connecting with the East Lancashire Line at Huncoat Station.

* A scale model of a 1909 Double Brick Press machine is on display in Accrington’s historic Market Hall.