THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS
A 'clot' of roughly shaped clay is prepared and then thrown by a brick moulder by hand into a wooden mould that has been dusted with dry, fine sand. The action of throwing the clay by hand ensures that the mould is fully filled in one go. Excess clay is removed with a wire bow and a flat wooden pallet is place on top, with the mould being inverted to remove the brick.
The green bricks are then moved to a drying shed to air dry. The bricks are stacked in the drying shed a single course at a time, after each course is suitably dry another course is stacked on top. The weight of one brick on another creates the unique creasing or 'smiles' on the face of the brick, which makes them totally unique and characterises them.
After air drying, the bricks are loaded and carefully stacked by hand into a coal fired Hoffman kiln. Hoffman kilns are continuously fired, using the finest quality coal to achieve optimum firing conditions and temperatures - with chamber temperatures within the kilns being measured by thermocouples. Newly made 'green bricks' are set in a chamber of the kiln and the entrance is then bricked up and sealed to prevent the ingress of air.
Hot air conveyed from cooling the bricks in the previous chamber is used to dry and preheat the bricks. Once the bricks have been dried slowly and uniformly to prevent distortion, the temperature in the kiln is raised rapidly. Once the optimum temperature has been reached (1000 degrees celcius), caps over the roof of the kilns are opened allowing 'easing' of the bricks by letting cold air into the chamber.
Coal is subsequently fed through the openings in order to maintain the necessary firing temperatures and soaking time. After firing, the bricks are allowed to cool in the chamber before they are removed for grading and packaging.
Stages of the Process
The total brick making process consists of the following stages:-
Winning - digging for clay
Preparation - preparing the clay for shaping / moulding
Shaping - moulding of the bricks by hand
Drying - in open air and in kilns
Firing - in Hofmann kilns
Quality Control - selecting only first quality bricks
Packing - packing and preparing the bricks for dispatch