The buildings for Cumbria’s industry were built with bricks without which Cumbria’s mineral wealth would not have been exploited.
Ian Tyler explored the mines and quarries of the North of England and in his exploits he collected a wealth of minerals, tools, photos and bricks. Each brick has the name of the manufacturer on the brick and the name indicates the history of the business. When an entrepreneur bought some land so he could build a mine, there were no buildings, obviously, and so he might bring his own bricks which would be made in his home area. So bricks have names from all over the country.
Also, some bricks were used as ballast when coal was exported to the Isle of Man, the empty sailing vessels would be unstable so Ramsay bricks became the ballast.
One coal mining site had more clay than coal so the enterprising owner used the coal to fire the clay, and so Micklam briack became a local brick. The name was stamped on the frog and if the frog (indented part of the brick) had a separation then there were two stamps, that explains the brick called NORI !
So many companies embossed their name with pride on the brick with lettering style to show their specialness.
The bricks also have a technology with colour, compression characteristics, heat resistance, permeability and shape being part of the technology of these key items of construction.
Ian Tyler has written many books about mines and quarries. Until 2012 he created and ran a museum in Keswick that displayed many of those artefacts. Unfortunately the museum has now closed but on the last day, Peter Nicholson videoed Ian who explained about some of the exhibits.
These bricks are now in Peter Nicholson’s collection, an interest that started when I was a labourer sent to collect hand made bricks, then later when renovating a house built in 1700 coming across hand made bricks with the finger marks still embossed in the clay and rubble brick.
Click here to for a video recording the mines and minerals of Cumbria taken on the last days that Ian’s museum was open.
Please visit http://thiswascumbria.uk to view images and video.
For further information please contact peterincumbria at gmail dot com.
Created / Uploaded by Peter Nicholson