ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed a kiln buried in a park dating back hundreds of years.

The exciting discovery was found as part of a dig to investigate Worcester's history, taking place at Cripplegate Park, which was the previous home of a clay pipe factory.

The Russell Pipe Manufactory produced smoking pipes for more than 50 years at the site.

Roger Moore, archaeologist, said: “We’ve now opened a third trench since we started digging yesterday (Monday) and we’ve found part of a kiln used to make the clay pipes for the people to smoke tobacco with.

“I undertook a research project in 2018, looking at the site and seeing if it was a suitable place to dig.

“A rota of local archaeologists are helping out from North Worcestershire Archaeology Group (NWAG) and South Worcestershire Archaeology Group (SWAG).

“Each day, we have between four and five on site digging carefully away.

“At the moment, we are down to just under one meter into the soil and digging still further down to just over a meter, revealed the foundations.”

The kiln started production in 1818 and ceased in 1868.

Unlike other pipe manufacturers in Bristol and other parts of the country, these pipes were made for smokers in Worcestershire to consume and were not exported.

Pipes were made in the city at the time by at least three manufacturers, the largest of which was the Cripplegate works.

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Sheena Payne-Lunn, historic environment record officer at the council, said: “Worcester’s ceramics and glove-making industries are well known.

“Fewer people realise that our city was also a centre for pipe-making, attracting specialist pipe-makers from across the country.”

John Russell is believed to have built a row of 20 houses, the Russell Terrace, that extended into what is now Cripplegate Park, where many of the kiln’s workers lived.

The dig is taking place close to the children’s play area and the Sons of Rest pavilion.

Ms Payne-Lunn added: “This dig will help us rediscover a largely forgotten part of Worcester’s history.”

Visitors will be able to watch the team in action during the week between 10am and 3pm and on Saturday (September 21) when they can see some of the team’s finds and listen to talks.