We take London bricks for granted. Bricks have been around for thousands of years but never at these prices. Tunji Adebayo investigates.
I have been fascinated to see how Barclays mortgages and have become very creative while looking at property values. Gone is the price per square foot. Now we are looking at the cost of brick in different parts of the UK. London bricks come out tops!
This inevitably led us to think about the humble brick.
Did you know bricks been around since approximately 5000 BC and were known as artificial stone? We normally see fired bricks but marked bricks were their precursor. In the past bricks would be formed of a conglomerate of mud and anything hanging around in the local vicinity such as straw that would act as mechanical binder. In fact if bricks fascinate you’ll find plenty of material on line to show just how they vary across the world. I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence!
In this article we’re thinking about London bricks
After all they are the ones worth so much these days. In fact we can thank the industrial revolution and the significant rise of factory building right across England for bricks’ popularity.
We know the geology of the UK means building styles vary tremendously across the country
The natural flints, limestone granite and other rocks give local architecture real personality. However, during the first Industrial Revolution speed of construction was of the essence. Builders needed economy and uniformity. It makes sense when buildings were going up at such rate. London bricks were an inevitable development.
London developed the bright brick that was favoured by the Victorians
The London bricks were good at coping with the startling rate of construction. Interestingly, the bright colours helped buildings to standout in the appalling London smogs of this period and were also a simple measure to prevent traffic accidents.
Speed and precision in brickmaking required machines rather than handmade bricks. It’s not confirmed, but the Atlas Works in Middlesex patented a machine back in 1855. Henry Clayton’s invention became extremely popular. The South Eastern Railway Company took a shine to the product and soon realised the machine’s ability to churn out 25,000 breaks every day was just what was needed for the railway’s expansion. With the development of modern life you can see it was a match made in heaven.
You only have to walk through London to see the extraordinary types and colours of brickwork throughout the capital.
Although during the 20th century steel and concrete were favoured for the new style of building that’s come to categorise London. This was an inevitable change as bricks are not suitable for the super tall buildings that have become iconic across the skyline.
However, the use of brick will never vanish
We seem to have a love affair with this very simple piece of kit. Yet it’s not as simple as that. Bricks vary and can be categorised by the way they are made. For example extruded, moulded, machine moulded, handmade and dry pressed. There also categorised by their uses. You can find common or building bricks; facing, hollow, keyed, paving and thin. Of course there are extremely specialised use bricks too that are chemically resistant or particularly hard or dense. Acid bricks, Engineering, Accrington, clinker and ceramic glazed are all examples you will find in London somewhere or another.
Just to take a stroll around the City of London
Go with mobile phone in hand and record the different types used in construction. London Stock is common of course but if you look at tube stations, railway bridges, Victorian warehouses, civic buildings and beyond you can see just how much we owe to bricks. However bearing in mind the opening of this article perhaps these days we owe rather more.
At Tunji Adebayo & Co we have quite a lot to do with older buildings that require repurposing. We have a number of clients looking to set up nurseries and also new places of worship. If you have a building, although it doesn’t have to be constructed of brick, you would like to sell or rent to an organisation please contact us. You might be surprised at the price of rents your building may well attract from a church. We look forward to hearing from you.