A History of Brickmaking

Humans have used bricks for thousands of years for development purposes. Bricks date back to 7000 BC, which means they are one of the oldest known building materials. They are found in southern Turkey at the site of ancient settlements around the city of Jericho.

The first brick, made in an area with a warm climate, consisted of mud that had been left to dry in the sun to harden. Ancient Egyptian bricks consisted of a mix of straw and clay. Paintings on the walls of Thebes’ tomb depict Egyptian slaves mixing, drying and carrying clay for dry brick dried in the sun. Thanks to modern technology, we no longer need to work with just bricks but can enjoy the advancements in brick technology with Brick Cladding. For more information, contact https://www.telling.co.uk/architecture/brick-cladding/  

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The biggest breakthrough came with the discovery of firing bricks in around 3,500 BC. From that moment, bricks were made without solar heat and soon become popular in cold climates as well.

During the period of the Roman Empire, Rome spread the art of brick making throughout Europe and continued to dominate during the medieval and Renaissance periods. When the Roman Empire fell, the art of brick making almost disappeared and only continued in Italy and the Byzantine Empire. In the 11th century, brick making spread from this area to France.

Throughout the 1100s, building with bricks was introduced again to northern Germany from Italy. This developed into a gothic brick era with structures that were mostly built from fired red bricks. Examples of Gothic-style brick buildings can be found in the countries of the Baltic. Finally, specially made and formed bricks were introduced which could mimic architectural sculptures. In the 1500s, the gothic style was replaced by Renaissance architecture.

During the middle ages, clay to make bricks was often squeezed by workers with bare feet. The clay was formed into bricks by pressing it into a timber frame set on a solid surface, which was enclosed with either straw or sand to prevent the soil from sticking. After the excess clay is removed with a stick, the brick is removed from the frame.

In England the remains of many buildings prove that the art of brick making was very advanced in the era of Henry VIII. The city was entirely rebuilt using bricks following the Great Fire of London in 1666.

Bricks were made by hand until around 1885. Once the Industrial Revolution broke out, a brick-making machine was introduced. As a result, the amount of clay that can be made into bricks is greatly increased which affects production capacity. The production of handmade bricks ranged from 36,000 bricks per week, but in 1925 a brick making machine produced 12,000 bricks a day.

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Because brick structures can be built faster and cheaper, they replace other raw materials such as stone or stone.

During the 19th century building boom, when more than 10 billion bricks were produced each year, many cities in America such as Boston and New York preferred locally made bricks.

In Victorian London, because of the thick fog, bright red bricks were chosen which made the building more visible. Although the amount of red pigment is reduced in the production of bricks, red remains the most desirable colour for bricks and is still done today.

It was used by some of the most famous architects of the 20th century such as Le Corbusier, F. L. Wright and Louis Khan. Many early American skyscrapers were clad in brick or terracotta. It took 10 million bricks to build the Empire State Building.