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Materials & Construction

Brick & Tile

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Materials: Brick

Bricks and tiles are closely related building materials formed from clay, mixed with sand and water to create a plastic, but resilient, material that will not crack when baked or burnt in the intense heat of the kiln. There are three sorts of clay deposits which are used to create brick and tile: for early buildings, the most common are the soft clays also known as brick earth. As the name suggests, these are found closeGlossary Term to the surface of the ground and can be dug and processed by hand. Deeper underground are hard, sandy clays and deep seams of heavy clay, both of which require mechanical processes to extract and grind them into a form suitable for production of bricks.

Bricks and tiles were traditionally made closeGlossary Term to the place of construction. The brick earth was dug, mixed and trod down on hard ground to form the raw material.This clay was then cut, dried and fired in kilns. The production of bricks and tiles required less skill and labour in their preparation than stone and brickmakers were soon established with a baseGlossary Term in most towns, affected only by the seasonal nature of their trade.

By the end of the 18th century more sophisticated mechanical methods of brickmaking had been adopted. Clays were milled and then pushed into frames before firing in kilns which were increasingly fired by coal rather than wood. Demand for brick in the 19th century was accompanied by the appication of industrial methods of mass production to brickmaking. Huge quantities of standardised bricks were fired on conveyor belts which could run continuously through tunnel kilns. Although modern forms of transport made it possible for brickmakers to distribute far and wide, demand ensured that small scale brickmakers could also continue to produce for a local market. The repeal of the Brick Tax in the 1850s further enhanced brick's popularity and in spite of the The introduction of alternative building materials, capable of performing the tasks required by developments in building technology, the widespread use of brick remains undiminished.

Tiles were initially developed as a form of roof covering. There are two basic forms: conventional forms which are rectangular and are formed in an overlapping pattern. This from may also be hung vertically and the tiles cut into a variety of shapes. This method is common in the southern counties of England.

S-shaped pantiles were first imported to the eastern counties from the Low Countries in the 17th century and then adopted as as a native tradition.

Tiles also came to be used as a form of claddingGlossary Term. By the 18th century, mathematical tilesGlossary Term had been developed to clad the exterior of timber framed buildings, presenting the appearance of brickwork at a fraction of the expense.


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