George Cooke Armitage was born in 1928 at Wakefield and joined the family firm in 1947 after National Service with the Northumberland Fusliers. For the first few years he helped his father Leonard manage the Oulton and Woodlesford operation. By then the company had also expanded onto other sites at Lofthouse and at Howley Park in Morley.
After the clay at Woodlesford was exhausted another brickworks was opened at Swillington in 1952. It pioneered the transition to extruded brick making and tunnel kiln firing which transformed the company’s prosperity in the 1970s. By 1974 when they celebrated their 150th anniversary Armitage’s were producing 64 million bricks a year.
The chairman at that time was George Armitage who had retired from a distinguished career as a consultant surgeon at Leeds General Infirmary. He fought at both the Somme and Passchendaele in the First World War for which he was awarded the Military Cross and bar.
Eventually in 1988 the firm was sold to Marshalls of Halifax and later to Hanson, but even today the name of Armitage survives in the brick making business through John Armitage’s descendant, David Armitage, who runs the York Handmade Brick Company.
George Cooke Armitage was educated at Oundle and maintained an interest in his old school throughout his life through the Oundle Society. He made a major contribution to the community in West Yorkshire being High Sheriff in 1987, and was an active member of Leeds Rotary Club and on Collingham Parish Council. He also served on the Wetherby District Cricket League Committee, and was a former president of Yorkshire Fly Fishers. He died in 2012.
Click on the links below to hear George Cooke Armitage talk about the work at Woodlesford.