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Large bricks on a conveyor belt in a modern European factory setting
A brickworks, also known as a brick factory, is a factory for the manufacturing of bricks, from clay or shale. Usually a brickworks is located on a clay bedrock (the most common material from which bricks are made), often with a quarry for clay on site.
Most brickworks have some or all of the following:
Bricks were originally made by hand, and that practice continues in developing countries and with a few specialty suppliers.
Large industrial brickworks supply clay from a quarry, moving it by conveyor belt or truck/lorry to the main factory, although it may be stockpiled outside before entering the machinery. When the clay enters the preparation plant (Clay Prep) it is crushed, and mixed with water and other additives which may include breeze, a very fine anthracite that aids firing.
This process, also known as pugmilling, improves the consistency, firing qualities, texture, and colour of the brick. From here, the processed clay can either be extruded into a continuous strip and cut with wires, or be put into moulds or presses (also referred to as forming) to form the clay into its final shape.
After the forming or cutting, the bricks must be dried - in the open air, in drying sheds, or in special drying kilns. The dried bricks must then be fired or "burnt" in a kiln, to give them their final hardness and appearance.
Men working in the yard of a brickworks in Germany, the tall chimney of the kiln visible, 1890
^The First Hundred Years: the Early History of Bradley & Craven, Limited, Wakefield, England by Bradley & Craven Ltd (1963)
^Celebrating 70 Years - "70 years on from our modest beginnings we have grown into one of the largest brickworks, employing the skills and talent of hundreds of West Australians in making the best bricks in the world."