A brickworks, also known as a brick factory, is a factory for the manufacturing of bricks, from clay or shale. Usually a brickworks is located on a clay bedrock (the most common material from which bricks are made), often with a quarry for clay on site.

Large bricks on a conveyor belt in a modern European factory setting


Most brickworks have some or all of the following:

  • A kiln, for firing, or 'burning' the bricks.
  • Drying yard or shed, for drying bricks before firing.
  • A building or buildings for manufacturing the bricks.
  • A quarry for clay.
  • A pugmill or clay preparation plant (see below).

Brick making

Brick production in Songea, Tanzania
Bricks set out to dry in Songea, Tanzania

Bricks were originally made by hand, and that practice continues in developing countries and a few specialty suppliers.

Building blocks of success (10692932653)
A brick-making machine in Tanzania

In a large industrial brickworks, clay is taken from the quarry, and then carried by conveyor belt or truck/lorry to the main factory, although it may be stockpiled outside before entering the machinery. When the clay enters the preparation plant (Clay Prep) it is crushed, and mixed with water and other additives which may include breeze, a very fine anthracite that aids firing. This process, which is also known as pugmilling, improves the consistency, firing qualities, texture, and colour of the brick. From here, the processed clay can be extruded into a continuous strip and cut with wires, or put into moulds or presses (also referred to as forming) to form the clay into its final shape. After the forming or cutting, the bricks must be dried, either in the open air, in drying sheds, or in special drying kilns. When the bricks have been dried, they must then be fired or 'burnt' in a kiln, to give them their final hardness and appearance.

Ziegelei Schwarting
Men working in the yard of a brickworks in Germany, the tall chimney of the kiln visible, 1890
Ciglana EKO Međimurje - stovarište
Packed bricks stored in a brickworks in Croatia

The brick manufacturing process was revolutionised in the mid nineteenth century with the development of automated brickmaking machines such as the Bradley & Craven Ltd ‘Stiff-Plastic Brickmaking Machine’.[1]

Historical notes

In the past, clay was often transported from the quarry to the brickworks by narrow gauge railway or aerial ropeway.

Notable brickworks

See also


  1. ^ The First Hundred Years: the Early History of Bradley & Craven, Limited, Wakefield, England by Bradley & Craven Ltd (1963)
  2. ^ Bursledon Brickworks Industrial Museum. "The History". Bursledon Brickworks Industrial Museum. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  3. ^ Visit Hampshire. "Bursledon Brickworks Museum". Retrieved 14 October 2015.

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