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FOCUS ON……Reclaimed Bricks

 So, a brick is ‘just a brick’ right? Wrong. A stroll around the reclaimed brick yard here at Winchcombe Reclamation, will open your eyes to a varied stock of different bricks. Here is a small introduction…..

Brick Manufacture:

Bricks are composed of sand, clay and water. Often mixed by hand in the past, the result was generally unevenly mixed and, when fired, produced subtle variations both in colour and texture. Brick making was a labour-intensive process and handmade bricks were often produced in small batches because of this. As the transport of bulk materials was rare before the age of canals, railways and heavy goods vehicles, these materials were generally used within the local area of where they were produced. This led to most Towns having their own brickworks and therefore, a recognisable local brick.

The Victorians much improved brick technology, allowing bricks to be made with greater speed and accuracy. More bricks were produced in this time than any other era. Advances in transport also allowed these bricks to be conveyed anywhere in the Country.

The main noticeable difference between bricks is the way in which they were manufactured. It is clear to see the difference between a handmade which will be of ‘rustic’ appearance (maybe even with fingerprints still visible in the clay!) to a brick which has been either pressed or wire-cut (these will be more uniform and crisper, maybe with wire markings on the face)

Brick Colour:

The variation in colour found in bricks is due to the type of clay used – the mineral content in the clay will affect the colour of the finished brick. For example, a high iron content will result in a pink coloured brick and a higher lime content will lead to bricks of a yellow or cream colouring.
The firing temperature can also have an affect on colouration. Most clay will fire to various hues of red but through higher temperatures darker reds, purples and brown can be achieved. Restricting the oxygen in the kiln produces a blue tinge – most commonly seen in ‘Staffordshire Blue’ bricks (a Victorian engineering brick widely used in construction at this time) These are a durable, dense brick with many uses including forming a damp-proof course, laying as a ‘Soldier Course’ atop a wall to create coping or simply laid flat as pavers.

Brick Size:

Bricks vary greatly in size. Pre-Seventeenth Century examples are often just 2” in height and are referred to as ‘slip bricks’ or ‘Tudor bricks.’ These are commonly used within inglenook fireplaces or decorative brickwork such as herringbone design.

The introduction of a brick tax in 1784, which charged building projects per brick, saw an increase in brick sizes as manufacturers tried to avoid this tax.
The adoption of the metric system in 1965 also led to a change in brick sizes, stepping away from the common imperial sizing to the metric sizes as are produced Today.


Aside from regular, rectangular building bricks, there are a number of common ‘special’ profiled bricks for various purposes. These include plinth bricks or stretcher plinth bricks which are used to create a splay detail that allows changes to the depth of brickwork. Decorative plinth bricks or corbelled bricks are often used as a decorative string course and there is a wide variety of styles and designs available. Cant bricks and squint bricks, with their chamfered profile allow you to build around the return of doorways or windows or you could use bullnosed or calfnosed bricks to the same effect.

We carry an extensive stock of reclaimed bricks here at Winchcombe reclamation and are a great place to start should you be looking for bricks for your project.

Maybe you are wanting to match existing bricks, in which case you could take advantage of our brick matching service; simply provide a sample as reference and we will do all the ‘leg work’ for you, pulling on our various resources in the trade to find a suitable match. Or maybe you simply want to use reclaimed bricks within your build to create that warm, lived-in feel straight away.

All of our bricks are carefully hand sorted, cleaned and palletised so there will be no extra ‘hassle’ factor compared to those off the shelf from the builders merchants and because we are involved from demolition stage, large batches from single sources are commonly available.