Bricks and History

When I look at any building I alway look at its brickwork. Why? because the different types of brickwork can help date the construction of a building, but be careful, bricks can be recycled and may be older than the building itself.

Brick Bonds

English Bond – This bond is formed by laying alternate course or rows of ‘stretchers’ the length of a brick and ‘headers’ the end of a brick. This is one of the strongest bonds but requires more bricks than other bonds. Used from 1450’s as the standard bond for most houses built in England for almost three centuries. It remained a popular bond for use in industrial building because of its strength.

English Bond

Flemish Bond – This is a ‘stretcher’ followed by a ‘header’ alternating throughout a course or row. This bond was first used in England in 1631, it became very popular and was the dominant brickwork used for houses then for over a century.

Variant of the Flemish Bond

Stretcher Bond – Most commonly used in recent times this bond is formed only using ‘stretchers’, with the joins on each course or row centred above and below by half a brick.

English Garden Wall – This is similar to the English bond but with one course or row of ‘headers’ for every three courses of ‘stretcher’.

Flemish Garden Wall – This is a variant of Flemish bond that uses one ‘header’ to three ‘stretchers’ in each course or row. The ‘header’ is centred over the ‘stretcher’ in the middle of a group of three in the course below.

Brickwork of Oakley Folly

The Brick Tax 1784 – 1850

The brick tax was introduced in Great Britain in 1784, during the reign of King George III, to help pay for the wars in the American Colonies. Bricks were initially taxed at 2s 6d per thousand. To mitigate the effects of the tax, manufacturers began to increase the size of their bricks. In 1801, the government responded by limiting the dimensions of a brick to 10 in × 5 in × 3 in and doubling the tax on bricks that were larger. The level of taxation was raised regularly, until its peak of 5s 10d per thousand bricks in 1805. The brick tax was abolished in 1850, as it was considered to be a detriment to industrial development.

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