The next time you see someone staring at a brick wall, don’t ever think there goes the next suitable case for treatment, the individual may well be recording the type, age and size of the bricks and how they are bonded to create the wall.
He/she might even be a member of the British Brick Society, founded in 1972. The fact is, that not all bricks are the same as they have a science and a history all of their own. The most important thing about a brick is that it should be of an optimum size for convenient handling and wall building.
In modern times we have the British Standard brick measuring
(215mm.x102.5mm.x65mm.) or H.8.5”xW. 4”xD.2.5”weighing app.2.5kg.
Back in Elizabethan times, bricks usually measured 9.5”x4.5”x2”. Then, in 1571, a charter specified that they be made 9”x4.5”x 2.25” all these were known as 2” bricks. In the mid eighteenth century, Parliament specified the 8.5”x4”x2.5” brick, which we have today.
All was well until 1784, when the government of the day introduced a 4/- per 1000 bricks tax to alleviate the cost of the American War of Independence. This created a vicious spiral of manufacturers increasing brick sizes and the Government upping the tax, eventually peaking at just short of 6/- per 1000 bricks, in 1805. Bricks were reaching enormous dimensions, when the Government set a new limit of 10”x 5”x3”. Eventually, in 1850, the Brick Tax Act was repealed, when it was regarded as detrimental to industrial development. However, by that time, manufacturers had invested in high cost machinery and couldn’t revert to standard size bricks for many years afterwards.
As late as 1874 and 1909, both the Foggathorpe Black Swan and the Council School were built with some pretty hefty bricks weighing up to 4kg. each and in excess of 9” in length and 3”in depth. Most buildings do have a story to tell.