A Day at Weald and Downland Museum: Exploring the World of Bricks and Historic Brick Making

As Construction Consultants, staying current with the latest trends and techniques in the industry is crucial. It’s equally important to look back and learn from history, especially when it comes to traditional building materials and methods. Recently, our team had a unique opportunity to undertake some CPD and delve into the fascinating world of bricks and the historic brick-making process at the Weald and Downland Museum joined by some of our colleagues from Lytle Associates Architects, T2 Architects, and Pritchard Architecture.

The Museum: Weald and Downland

The Weald and Downland Museum serves as an ideal backdrop for our exploration of the world of bricks. Its immersive environment recreates the past, providing visitors with a vivid glimpse into the architectural history of the region. Here, ancient buildings, including houses, barns, and workshops, have been painstakingly dismantled and reconstructed, preserving the craftsmanship and materials that have stood the test of time.

The Course: Unveiling Brick-Making Techniques

Our guide for the day, seasoned Historic Buildings Consultant Kevin Stubbs, skilfully led us on a journey back in time, unravelling the methods of early brick production.

We explored the evolution of the brick-making processes over time, examining historic brick examples, learning about brick densities, glazes and firing techniques. We then delved into the meticulous process of arranging bricks in a kiln, learning how to recognise distinct brick marks such as ‘kiss marks’ and the varying colours of bricks – outcomes linked to the stacking methods, kiln placement and firing materials. Kevin spoke to us about the historical standardisation of brick sizes following the abolition of the brick tax in the UK in 1850.  This historical landmark reshaped the landscape of brick production and initiated a lasting impact on modern construction, influencing the way we build, even today.

Getting Our Hands Dirty

Afterward, it was our turn to have a go at making the bricks. We were taken to the brick making barn at the museum where we were shown how to cut, shape, and throw the clay into a wooden mold. Then, how to carefully remove the shaped clay from the mold. Kevin informed that brick makers of the past could produce a hand-made brick in a lightning-fast 18 seconds – having tried ourselves, we gained a newfound appreciation for the craftsmanship of our predecessors.

Conclusion

Our visit to the Weald and Downland Museum was a fascinating journey through time and craftsmanship. It served as an important reminder of the significance of our architectural heritage and the enduring materials that have shaped countless structures within our built environment. This experience further deepened our construction knowledge but also allowed us to enjoy an educational day surrounded by some of our valued colleagues. We are grateful for the opportunity to continue to develop our knowledge base which will assist us with our heritage and conservation commissions.

  Brick making at the Weald and Downland MuseumHandmade Bricks 

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We're proud to work across the UK and Europe, collaborating with a diverse range of clients from both the Private and Public sectors. Our team has extensive experience in a wide array of projects, including new builds, extensions, alterations, refurbishments, and conservation work.

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