115 Year Old WA Brick Plant Celebrates Renewal

Posted on Apr 04, 2018

One of WA’s long history of brick kilns, heritage listed Maylands Brickworks.

Built in 1903 and closed in 2012 due to a slump in demand for bricks, the Cardup brickwork plant has now had a major capital injection by current owners Austral Bricks ($26 million). In 2018 the kiln is again making high quality product for the construction industry with an even broader range than previously available.

Austral Bricks is a key stakeholder in the brick and blocklaying training sector and with ABBTF, partner in training apprentices we invite members of the industry to join us for the plant tour, presentation and luncheon. It’s a chance to meet other construction partners and celebrate the rebuild of this historic manufacturing operation at a time of steady improvement in WA’s economy.


When: Thursday 19 July at 11.30am

Where: Austral Bricks Cardup Plant 69 Kiln Road, Byford

To RSVP or for more details please contact Dean Pearson on 0418200401 or
e-mail dean.pearson@abbtf.com.au

Built in 1903 by John Millard (former manager of Bunnings Bros) listed as The Cardup Steam Pressed Brick Company, Cardup eventually came under the ownership of industrialists Atkins and Law.After significant financial investment soon after acquisition, the site on Perth’s south-eastern fringe became one of the state’s most productive plants of its time.

West Australia has a long and proud history of not only Brick use but also Brick Manufacturing.

There are numerous Brick Kilns listed with the WA Heritage office, some of which are well over 100 years old. Brick Kiln construction and use were not only limited to the greater Perth Metropolitan area, but also in thriving regional country towns requiring local building resources.

Heritage Listed Maylands Brickworks

Maylands Brickworks was built in 1927, 25 years after Cardup, by Atkins and Law (Metropolitan Brick Company) and featured a coal-fired and later oil-fired system with 19 chambers in total, still standing today. (See leading image)

Bricks were stacked into bunks within the kiln and worked on the principle of rotating firing from the rooftop where powdered coal was poured in, giving an even balance of heat between the bricks.

Given the location of this Brickwork on the Maylands Peninsula (Swan River), it was ideally located for accessing fine clays from the banks and swamps adjoined to the river system. It has since been turned into beautiful parks and gardens.

Clay was extracted by using basic tools and a rail bucket system pushed by hand (tracks are still in existence). In the absence of modern day machinery, bricks were loaded into the kiln by hand. Upon completion of firing, the bricks were also loaded on and off brick trucks for site delivery.

In its day, the Hoffman Kiln (the name for the series of batch process kilns as used at Maylands) was quiet advanced, with a capacity of up to 7 million bricks per annum, complete with undercover drying sheds and a pug mill all of which are still standing.

The kiln operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and employed over 130 people. Maylands Bricks stopped producing in 1983. Until then it was a major supplier of the product in the Perth metropolitan area and made significant contributions to the State’s economy.

The site is today Heritage listed and the local shire is currently considering expressions of interest in ways to utilise it for a new business opportunity, whilst maintaining the kiln and adjoining buildings.

Within the district, the State Government also operated an independent Brick Plant (1913 -1964) and in addition, another was built in Armadale about the same period. All sites accessed rich shale deposits at the base of the Darling Range escarpment.

Dean Pearson
ABBTF WA Manager

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