London bricks, commonly known as London stock bricks, refer to handmade bricks which gained popularity during the late 18th Century. Though these give a very traditional look to a building, they still have their admirers.
The Origin Of London Stock Bricks
Bricks were brought to Britain by the Romans from 43AD to 412AD. After the Romans left, the manufacture of bricks was discontinued. Those left behind by the Romans were still in use, but no new ones were made. By 1160AD native brick production started and gradually gained popularity. The eastern English ports saw the import of brick technology. Hull and Beverly soon became important brick centers. A number of halls and castles were constructed using brick.
Bricks were mainly made near the building sites as transportation was expensive. After the Great Fire of London in 1666, the demand for bricks increased to a great extent. To meet demands, the production of London Stock Bricks started. Ash and clay were added to the clay to produce these bricks.
Making London Stock Bricks
The clay found in the surrounding areas of London was used to make London Bricks. Either ash or clay or both were mixed in the clay for brick making. As the bricks were handmade, these were made using a stock. A stock here refers to an iron-faced block of wood. The stock is fixed to the molder's bench in which the clay is filled. Using a wire level, the molder cut off the "green" brick and later baked it.
The "green" bricks were baked on a bed of coke. The baking process took ten to twelve weeks making the bricks hard and ready to use. The finished brick usually had black flecks which was the result of the mixed ash as ash burns and fires up the brick internally.
Features Of London Bricks
London Stock Bricks were commonly used in London for construction purposes and therefore the name. As they were made of clay, they carried a distinctive yellow color and give a soft appearance. They were absolutely porous and were laid using lime mortar keeping their porous feature intact, lime mortar too being porous.
Modern London Bricks
Traditional items always hold a special place in people's hearts and the same goes for the London Stock Bricks. They may have originated centuries ago, but when a person wants to build a building or house with the same traditional finish, it has to be London Bricks. As is the case with any other product, London bricks too are very expensive when produced using traditional methods. These are mainly used for decorative and heritage purposes. Such bricks are produced in relatively small quantities.
Machine-made London Bricks are also available for those who would like to achieve a traditional look for their buildings. Brick-manufacturing companies produce these machine-made versions which cost a lot lesser than the traditional ones but give a close to similar look.
One of the famous structures made of London Stock Brick is the British Museum. It has a cast iron frame which is filled up with London Brick.