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Making Bricks by Hand
 

Clay is dug from the ground and left to break down by frost action over the winter. In the spring it is taken from the pile and mixed as necessary with other ingredients such as sand, other clays, lime or clinker. It is then ground in a pugmill.

Pugmill

To mould a brick, the maker first sands the mould to prevent the clay from sticking. A lump, of clay is thrown into the mould and pressed into the corners. The excess clay is then taken off the top with a 'strike'.

     

Mould and Stock

 

Cockle

The green brick, which is wet but firm, is turned out onto a thin board for loading on the barrow.

A barrow-load of green bricks is then taken to a drying 'hack'. The bricks are stacked up in a long line, either in the open (covered with straw, or movable 'hack covers') or in a drying shed.

Brick Drying Shed

When dry, the bricks are placed in a kiln or clamp. A kiln is heated by continually burning fuel in the firing hearths, whereas in a clamp the burning material is included within the bricks themselves in the form of clinker in the clay.

   

Down-draught kiln Clamp Up-draught kiln

Firing the kiln or clamp takes several days. After a gradual start to drive off moisture, the temperature is increased to about 1,100C, until the bricks are all burnt. The kiln or clamp is then allowed to cool before the bricks are unstacked ready for use.