Our bricklaying heritage still shapes the future
PUBLISHED: 11:02 25 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:11 25 May 2016
From the humblest baker's oven to the Great Wall of China, bricks have proven to be the preferred material for any structure that needs to withstand the test of time while at once baking in that familiar feeling of both home and country.
The art of bricklaying dates back to time immemorial, present in the architectural heritage of cultures spanning the globe and centuries alike. From the humblest baker’s oven to the Great Wall of China, bricks have proven to be the preferred material for any structure that needs to withstand the test of time while at once baking in that familiar feeling of both home and country. In describing brick structures, one may note something of an irony in how a single material can convey the humility of a family home and the grandeur of an empire. Yet it is this very utility, this ubiquitous durability that has allowed brickwork to maintain its place as a leading construction material throughout the ages.
Despite its ancient heritage, brickwork can be found adorning modern structures in more forms than ever before. As techniques and materials have evolved, so too have the applications of bricklaying transcended their traditional role of providing stalwart defence against the passage of time into something more akin to a celebration of the creativity and aesthetics of the human spirit. A brick archway, path, or wall says far more than can be expressed in words alone, reflecting the culmination of a truly ancient shared cultural inheritance as well as humanity’s constant forward progress, lain one brick at a time.
Discover the craft
It might be easy to dismiss the old ways of building as indeed merely old-fashioned, with the gleaming metropolises of steel and glass drawing the skyward glances of people from miles away, inspiring prosperity dreams of upward-mobility and progress beyond the traditionally-held furthest reaches of our world. However, after a day in the hustle and bustle of modernity, it is to humble, earthbound homes that we return in order to recharge and digest that very productivity.
The quintessential English cottage is admired not for its perfections, but for its imperfections. Would a timber-framed building be such an attraction to buyers if the planks were laid in perfect grids; yet another uniform network? Of course not, it’s the gnarled, unpredictable, sometimes even chaotic handmade elements that strike at the deepest reaches of the human soul and reminds us of whom we are where we come from.
That same rustic charm abounds in modern bricklaying. The tradition comes directly from the earth, with clay being exhumed from ancient glacial deposits, moulded and bent into shape before being fired in a kiln at temperatures of up to 200°C. It evokes the passion and toil of generations of artisans, labouring anonymously in the service of dynasties and common folk alike.
There are still family-run brickmaking businesses in the UK today, crafting handmade bricks with all the care of their ancestors in bygone eras. It is these bespoke designs that really bring your home to life. Even a single feature like an archway or fireplace can add unique character that might otherwise be sorely lacking in a modern building. The York Handmade Brick. Co Limited offers a wealth of artisanal options in brick construction; hearkening back to ancient traditions while remaining sensitive to modern styling and refinement.
Phone: 01347 838881