This was a nice explore as the Selborne Brickworks are a little gem. All the machines and kilns look as if the last person just clocked out 5 minutes ago. Although, the site itself is not overly large, I still managed to spend about three hours wondering around, looking at the machinery and taking pictures. Although bricks have been produced on this site since Roman times, the Selborne brickworks proper started off as an estate brickworks in 1872. After 50 years as an estate brickworks if became a commercial enterprise in 1933. In 1971 the site employed about 25 people and produced about 40000-50000 bricks each week. Later the brickworks became known as the “Tower Brick and Tile Company Ltd”. It went into administration in 2009 due to the recession.
Although Selborne bricks were originally made by hand, the process was automated at a later stage for reasons of efficiency. The clay, required for producing the bricks, was dug from a pit located just beyond the brickworks and stored in a blister hanger. This ensured that production could continue even in case of bad weather when the excavator was unable to work.
When the clay entered the plant it was crushed and mixed with water and other additives, which may have included 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 was either extruded into a continuous strip and cut with wires, or put into moulds or presses to form the clay into its final shape. After the forming or cutting, the bricks were dried in drying kilns before being fired in a kiln, to give them their final hardness and appearance. The kilns and the wire cutters can still be seen at the Selborne Brickworks.