Bricking it

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Bricks from many different yards in the same wall

Bricks from different yards in the same wallThey’re all around us, but most of us never really notice them. Made from material taken straight out of the ground the humble brick has come a long way since man first decided to use a clay mix to build, long before the Romans occupied Britain.

My ‘local’ brickworks, if you can have such a thing is the Eldon works. This dates back to 1897 and was originally created to support the work of Eldon Colliery. Many brickworks across the northeast came into being as a result of mining activities and it seems the mine owners preferred to own the whole supply chain rather than buy bricks from others.

The Eldon brickworks outlived the mining activity and remains in production today under the ownership of a company called Wienerberger.

It remains unknown when brick maker first started to stamp their names on the bricks they produced. This could have been an anti-theft measure or simply clever marketing, but long before other people talked about ‘transparency’ in industry, bricks could not only be traced back to their manufacturers, but also to the individual yards where the bricks were made.

Bricks from many different yards in the same wall

Bricks from many different yards in one wall at Beamish Museum.

So the next time you take a stroll in the country, or wander past some old buildings bring brought down, why not take a look at the bricks lying around the site? You may find there is more of a story there than meets the eye.

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