Cornish bricks

Contributed by Cornwall Museums

THIS OBJECT IS PART OF THE PROJECT 'A HISTORY OF CORNWALL IN 100 OBJECTS'.

WHEAL MARTYN. Newquay, Looe and Padstow were all built with Cornish bricks in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These bricks are stamped with the name of the brickworks, and at least 37 makers' marks have been recorded. There is also a great colour range, from black, through dark red river clays, ochres and oranges, to white china clays.

Brick is often said to be a poor building material in Cornwall because of damp, though posh houses were sometimes built of brick. These included Golden Manor in 1542, Ince Castle in the 1630s, Heligan in the 1690s and in the 18th century town houses in Falmouth, Truro and Penzance. In the latter two cases only the front was of brick. Some of these buildings used imported bricks but Heligan's bricks came from clay dug on the estate. From the 1850s (after the brick tax was repealed) to 1971 many brickworks were set up in Cornwall. Waste sand and clay were used to make bricks in clay drying kilns, too.

Photo: Bernie Pettersen

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