All about bricks and brickwork at Gore Bay Museum

Dr. John Carter gave a history presentation “All About Bricks and Brickwork,” at the Gore Bay museum August 3. In photo is Dr. Carter and museum attendant Sarah Orford.

GORE BAY—The history of brick and its use as a building material dates back to the start of civilization.

“Brick is one of the oldest building materials, and its story starts at the very beginning of the history of civilization,” stated Dr. John Carter, a research associate at the University of Tasmania, and chair of the South Bruce Peninsula Municipal Heritage Committee told a large audience at the Gore Bay Museum. His presentation, “All About Bricks and Brickwork,” was made August 3.

Dr. Carter presented an illustrated slide/talk on bricks and brickworks. He provided an overview of the historical development of brick and its uses. He also investigated various brickworks in Mexico, England, Wales, Australia and Canada. The third section of his presentation focused on the Don Valley Brickworks in East York.

“Mud brick was invented between 10,000 and 8,000, B.C. molded brick developed later in Mesopotamia about 5,000 B.C., and about 3,500 B.C.,” said Dr. Carter.

“The most significant invention was fired brick,” stated Dr. Carter. “This enabled the construction of permanent structures in areas where it had not previously been possible. Firing gave brick the resilience of stone, but also had added advantages that it could be more easily shaped and provide endless exact repetitions’ of decorative patterns.”

Dr. Carter explained, “with the subsequent development of glazes, it became possible to make rich ornaments in brick, but also to produce it in vivid colours.”

“The ancient Romans built many of their greatest buildings using brick,” continued Dr. Carter. “In Byzantium, brick making was refined resulting in the construction of great churches.  In China, processes to make brick harder and stronger eventually led to the construction of pagodas and the Great Wall.”

“By 1200 A.D. bricks were found across Europe and Asia. From the Renaissance to the 17th century, advances in technology in Europe changed the way brick could be used,” he said. “Bricks became cheaper and their use more widespread across the social spectrum.”

He noted, “In the 18th century, the industrial revolution began in England, resulting in brick being manufactured in enormous numbers and transported across long distances. Industrial complexes, bridges, houses, aquaducts, commercial buildings, water towers, schools and many other structures were built with brick.”

Dr. Carter added, “by the 19th century, with the introduction of mechanization, brick became the standard building material and this trend continued into the 20th century. After 10,000 years the outlook for the humble brick continues to look bright.”

Dr. Carter also brought along a variety of various bricks for attendees to view.