"Old Bricks - history at your feet"

Foreign bricks

The naming of bricks was not only a British custom, below are a few I have been sent from foreign parts.


David Kitching spotted this one in Broken Hill, new South Wales.  He writes:'nubrik' is a new product of Australbricks which was established as the Austral Brick Company in 1908 and is now part of the Brickworks Limited group.

Seen in Ballarat by Alan Murray-Rust.

Sandhurst, 1858 - 1958.  Seen in Bendigo by Alan Murray-Rust.

Made by Samuel Webb who had brickworks at Lutwyche & Stafford, northern suburbs of Brisbane, in the 1880s. The coat of arms of Brisbane contain the Stafford knot. The City was named after Sir Thomas Brisbane who was Governor of New South Wales until 1825 of which Brisbane was part till 1869 when Queensland became a State. When he joined the British army in 1789 he was in the Staffordshire Regiment. Knots everywhere !!! Info from Frank Hunt. Found in Brisbane, in a house built in 1885. Photo by Belinda Turner.


A very heavy red brick that came from the old brick factory in Greenland, Barbados.  The spelling indicates that it is very old.  Photo and info by Thurston Riehl.


Duffel is a town in the province of Antwerp, Belgium. Well known for the origin of the heavy woollen cloth that makes the duffle coat. Photographed in a brick reclamation yard in Kent.  Photo and info by Martyn Fretwell.


An unusual and somewhat sinister photo of a brick sent by Guilherme Correa.  It came from the Southern Cross Ranch near Campina do Monte Alegre, 160 km from Sao Paulo.  This was run by fervent Nazis in the 1930's  The bricks were discovered recently when a new owner took over the property.  The full story may be read here.


Found in Scotland. Photo by Mark Cranston.

A paving brick photographed by Alan Murray-Rust in Ontario


The most southerly produced brick on the website by far!  Robert Runyard writes: 

This brick was found in the vicinity of the freezer works in Puerto Bories here in southern Chile. The city of Punta Arenas indicated on this brick is located on the straits of Magellan about 150 miles south of the brick discovery location. The shallow impression of the letters makes it difficult to read the first name in the upper left but the word MARCOU is related to an early French resident and investor in this region around the beginning of the 20th century. Among Marcou's other industries (besides brick manufacturing) he was involved in lumber mills and the earliest petroleum exploration in this region.

Chile was not known for extensive use of brick, but the extreme south was influenced perhaps more by European practices than by the distant central region of the country. During an uprising in 1877 nearly all the (wooden) buildings in the regional centre of Punta Arenas were destroyed by fire, and thus the authorities sought to reconstruct the city at least in part with brick. Unfortunately, the first attempt at brickworks fell victim to one of Chile's frequent earthquakes, in 1879. In 1892, Mauricio Braun, the most important business owner in the region at the time, imported brick from Uruguay for the construction of his "palace" on that city's main square. The success and need to emulate such "modern" and more civilised (and functional, for the region) brick construction surely incited Alejo Marcou's development of the brickworks ("Alejo Marcou i Co") and this represented the first successful production for this region.

Lota Green

Another one found by Robert Runyard near a now closed animal processing and freezer complex in Puerto Bories in Chilean Patagonia.  Lota is known as one of Chile's few coal-producing areas (the mines have been closed for years) and it is located near Concepci'n in southern Chile.  The "Lota Green" brickworks (officially "Refractarios Lota-Green Limitada") were founded in 1854.  By 1863 this brickworks was providing 2 million bricks a year.  The factory went on to produce ceramic dishware, tile, clay pipe, electrical insulators and similar objects. Many of the ceramic items became well known throughout Chile particularly for their "Art Nouveau" style, though the ceramics portion of the factory closed in 1951 while the brick-making continued until about 1997.  In recent years the brickworks were purchased by Global Industrial Technologies, for their refractory products division.


Found in Shanghai during work on a 1930's built building.  although appearing to be a British made brick, I believe this was made locally.  Photo by Chris Veits.

David Kitching writes: Having never previously seen a Chinese brick with a name in the frog, I was surprised to find this example amidst demolished housing in the centre of Beipiao, Liaoning Province, North-east China. The spelling is an alternative pinyin version of the town name. 


It seems the hobby is thriving in France as well, here are two examples submitted by Fabien:

Simon Patterson photographed these three French examples in Coulommiers in north central France:


Found near Arras by Nigel Megson. 

Pourchot, Passavant

Found in France and made at Passavant-la-Rochere, Haute-Saone. Image PRBCO. 

Garnier Bremont

Found by Frank Lawson near Verdun in France.  Made some 30 miles to the west of Verdun in Ste Menehould.


Frank Lawson writes:  this was given to me by the Patron of the Camp de le vallee Moreau near Vienne-le-Chateau. This was a German Army camp in WW1 which was situated just behind the German front line and housed around a thousand soldiers. It is now a WW1 museum containing living quarters, underground tunnels, blockhouses etc.  So I suspect that these bricks survived the pounding that it sustained towards the end of the war.


Manchester Brick Specialists is a supplier and importer of bricks and this example was probably made somewhere in Asia. Photo by Elaine Hill who found a pallet of these in Manchester.


Richard Drew spotted this one in a Second World War explosives storage tunnel.

French penal colony bricks

Thanks to Christian Clavel for these three photos of bricks used in the infamous French penal colonies in French Guyana.  These colonies were made famous by Henri Charriere and the film based on his experiences: 'Papillon'.

Administration Penitentiaire ( St Jean du Maroni)

Administration Penitentiaire (St Laurent du Maroni)

H.R for hopital de la reclusion.


High Level Co. Gensungen

Bricks were made by Englishmen during the years 1880/ 1881. The High Level Company, Manchester started the production of bricks near the village of Gensungen. Today it is located at the small city of FELSBERG, Germany, near Kassel. The company finished in 1883.  photo and info by Heinz K'rner.



Found and photographed by Jess Jessen-Klixbüll in Denmark
while diving on the shipwrecked Alexander.


Spotted in Corfu by David Gamble.  David adds: the wording in the centre is KEPKYPA which is Greek for Corfu. The outer circle is the maker's name which is Konstantinos Rapsomanikis.


Ceipel & Co.

Found by Vladimir Smirnov in St. Petersburg.  Arthur Brickman comments: Similar bricks appear on Tyneside and I believe them to be of Dutch manufacture. In the early 1900's a German patented Coal to Oil plant with associated Coking Ovens was built at Blaydon on the Tyne, in the vicinity of the Cowen Brickworks, which was then owned by Priestman Collieries. Known locally as 'Ottovale', a reference to the project appears in a 1902 edition of the 'Pottery Trades Gazette', bemoaning the fact that despite Tyneside had an abundance of quality firebrick manufacturers, the contract stipulated that some 500,000 bricks would be imported from the Netherlands for all it's refractory requirements. It would appear to be another case of Coals to Newcastle!

S.ten CATE Lzn, Hengelo.  Photographed by AKA Demik at the Historisch Museum Hengelo.


Rajmund Graf von Montecuccoli, Austro-Hungarian general, chief captain of Győr City.  Made in 1669 and the oldest brick on the website.  Photo sent by Dr. Szűcs Istv'n.  There is a Hungarian brick forum, with 30,000(!) bricks online here .

ISTV, This brick is produced in Budapest in the Istvan brick factory.Thanks to Gabriel for the info.  Photo by courtesy of the Richard Symonds collection.


Frank Lawson sent this photo of a brick which came from Delhi.  Frank writes: ' I am told that the initials RBF stand for Ram Building Fund and that the bricks were subscribed for by the public to fund the building of a temple. The swastika is a Hindu religious symbol which is thought to be auspicious and is often found on Indian bricks as it is supposed to bring good fortune'.

Three more Indian bricks photographed by Nigel Megson.


The Nairobi Brick Tile & Pipe Works Ltd.

Bulldog brand, back of NBT&PW



Photo by Frank Lawson.


Found in a Dorset reclamation yard by Andrew Florey.


Photo by Martyn Fretwell.


Photo by Frank Lawson.


Photo by Martyn Fretwell.


Photo by Martyn Fretwell.


Photo by Martyn Fretwell.


Photo by Martyn Fretwell.


Photo by Martyn Fretwell.


Ceramica Luzitania, Lisboa

Lots of information about this interesting business can be found here. Photo and info from Paul Jones

Minas Sao Domingos

The São Domingos copper mine is in Corte do Pinto, Alentejo, Portugal. It operated from 1854 to 1966 and bricks appear to have been manufactured at the mine site. Photo by Paul Jones


An M.T.Strelin brick found in St Petersburg by Vladimir N Smirnov.  This is a very famous brickyard est. 1875 and the whole Strelin's family (the father and later 2 sons) owned 3 different brick plants around St.Petersburg.  Vladimir has a collection of over 800 Russian bricks found in the St Petersburg area.  The bricks all pre-date the 1917 Revolution after which the name stamping of bricks ended.  His website may be viewed here, it is in the Russian language.


A brick from 1696, one of Peter Gyekes extensive collection of Slovakian and Hungarian bricks.


H'gan's Bjuf AB has its roots in H'gan's Limited Company, founded in 1797. The first production of refractory bricks started in H'gan's in 1825, and since 1876 the company has been located in Bjuv, in the southwestern part of Sweden.  Photo and info by Mark Cranston.

U. S. A

Bessemer, Youngstown, Ohio.  Found in a wall at the Millstreet Brewery in Toronto Canada.  This paving brick has four raised parts to stop horses slipping.  Photo courtesy of John Biggs.


David Kitching writes: A visit to the former Hathern Station Brickworks in Leicestershire yielded a surprise in this brick which is a product of the Harry Brigham & Bros yard on the Hudson River at East Kingston, New York state. Brickmaking commenced here in 1904. How did it come to be in the UK? The answer is that there is still design undertaken here for terracotta restoration work and the brick was attached to the back of a piece that had been shipped over from a building in New York so that a replacement could be made by Shaws of Darwen who maintain a design section here after the demise of the Hathern operation when Ibstock closed the site.


Made in one of the six brickyards in Cherryvale, Kansas, and found in Jay, Oklahoma. Photo by Joanna Downing.

A E Green Empire E, Frank Lawson found this one on a farm near Oakamoor in Staffordshire - The World's Finest First Quality Fire Brick

Metropolitan, Canton, Ohio.  Found in a wall at the Millstreet Brewery in Toronto Canada.  This paving brick has four raised parts to stop horses slipping.  Photo courtesy of John Biggs.


Philadelphia Fire Brick Works. Found by Mark Cranston by the Firth of Forth.

I found the above in a Welsh slate quarry.  I understand it is an American brick made by the Robinson Sewer Pipe Company of New York, thanks to Fred Rieck for the information.  How it ended up in North Wales is another matter.

U B Co

Rick Calou has advised that he found a large pile of these bricks in San Diego, California. The United Brick CXo seems to have had a presence in a number of states. This example is from the Union Brick Company that operated at Rose Canyon, north of San Diego, in San Diego County, California, from 1912 to 1963. Info by Dan Mosier of the California Bricks website. Brick from the Henry Holt collection, photo by David Kitching.

An American brick found by Robert Runyard in southern Argentina.  A long way from where it was made on the Hudson River.

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