Lets talk about something realy interesting and amazing to all people ………………….. BRICKS.

It could have been something starting with a S and ending with an X but hey you can look anywhere for that type of thing so I chose bricks, well more or less the formation of bricks they way are laid. Being a former builder my interest is a little more involved but one sadness I have today with modern structures is the lack of any interesting brickwork used in construction. These days decorative brickwork may cost too much or maybe today’s bricklayers are just not trained in the arts and crafts of many of the styles of brickwork, I would hazard a guess that cost has a lot to do with it more than the craftsmen themselves.

But what do I mean by all this? Well looking round my local city centre, Hull (England or Kingston Upon Hull its full name) I often look at the many old buildings still standing despite the ravages of WW2 ( I know it was years ago but things don’t move very fast in these parts due to lack of funding and investment but that’s another story) and some vandalism (indiscriminate demolition) by the local council and the brickwork craftsmanship is wonderful (well I think so). So without further ado I will show some pictures of what I actually mean oh and they are my own pictures not purloined from anywhere else.

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This is one of my favourite buildings in Hull for decorative brickwork the craftsmanship is superb. You have everything, arches, circles, a bay and a turret on the top of the building which is circular. Thousands of people pass this building by every day of the week and never notice the splendour of the architecture but I’m sure that is the same the world over, but whenever I am near to this building I always spend a few minutes admiring it. Another example of the fine arts of brickwork craftsmanship is in a building that is tucked away down a narrow side street not far from the building in the other picture and has some equally wonderful brickwork so more pictures to follow.

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Another building I stand and stare at (yes I know I do get some odd stares in my direction but I’m not so decorative), and again the arches are just magnificent. Now before I get carried away by posting too many pictures there is the odd modern-day building constructed using bricks in a decorative way, not a lot, but still an effort has been made but come nowhere near the magnificence of these older structures. Cue more pictures.

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As I say brickwork can still be more than just straight lines of bricks that we all pass by many times during out lives but I have only scratched the surface of the structures involved, anyone interested in the marvellous subject of brick chimney stacks? (and yes all this is said with tongue in cheek as we say, joking in other words). 🙂

The 2nd course (layer) of bricks.

Not so long back I went around the city of Hull, my home city, and took pictures of buildings still standing from a bygone era, and a couple more up to date buildings. You see Hull was the most heavily bombed city in Britain during WW2 outside of London, but because it was important as a port its name was never mentioned. So the likes of Coventry, Birmingham and others cities get a mention, and they did get severely damaged, but Hull is left out, even today.

So it was no surprised then that uncle Adolf destroyed many of the fine buildings built during some very prosperous times for Hull when traders and entrepreneurs were making their fortunes, but some survived. Only that the council knocked down a lot more for the re-development after the war so we are no left with very few. But those that are left have some magnificent brickwork in them, which the pictures below show.

Its of a building in the heart of Hull, thousands of people walk by it everyday and do not even blink, on a brickwork level I think its a masterpiece, and ironically, right opposite is a college that teaches brickwork, I don’t even know if they have looked at this building. There is nearly everything, different types of arches, bulls-eye, semi-circular, segmental, Gothic, Flat arch,  and even ones on the corner which is actually a bend along with a turret on the top of the building, the craftsmanship is awesome. There is even a bay near the top of the building.

The building, by the way, is The Old Customs House, Market Place, Lowgate, Hull, check it out on Google Maps. There are many grander buildings in Hull but I’m concentrating on the brickwork aspect of this building, some of the more grander types are stone and very grand indeed, but to me, this is a gem, well done the brickies, and architects, whoever you were. Click on a picture by the way for a larger view.

Brickwork …… yes you read that right.

Not a subject that anyone, well anyone I know, ever mentions, and why would they? Bricks are just …… well ……. there and not something you think about but although I’m not about to alter that perception I do think that brickwork in general is worth a mention. I want this to read by anyone so I won’t go into detail about bonds and the rest, that is not what this blog is about, it’s trying to get people to look at the many different styles of brickwork throughout the country, indeed the world and the innovative way in bricks have been used for all matters of construction.

This is just an ordinary door with a brick arch over the top and the amount of work to get all this together is awesome. A template would have been used for the arch to be constructed on and then all the cutting of the bricks around the arch itself is near on perfect. The bricks themselves are wedge shape and all the brick joints are equal giving a very tidy appearance.

The same arch but looking underneath to see how the bricklayer was a real craftsman to get everything to look so tidy. You may also notice that there are some different coloured bricks, that is because the walls inside are of a glazed brick and totally different to the ones on the outside.

All in all a very decorative way in which to bridge a door opening, lintels, wood and stone, have been used since the beginning of building and in later years concrete became plentiful and when metal rods were bedded inside gave incredible strength over wider areas and so brick arches became a luxury.

Churches were always big users of  arches in both brick and stone and some are just truly magnificent. How some of that stonework got put into place many centuries ago, without the help of mechanical means, one can only guess at. But there are plenty of arches of brick within Church buildings and when I was out and about on my bike, (cycle), I came across this small Church but only had my mobile (cell) phone with me so took these pictures, sorry if they are not all that good.

As you can see these arches to a point and are known as Gothic arches, there are semi-circular and segmental, as well a many more. But a closer look at these arches display, yet again, both the craft of bricklaying and the effects on what would otherwise be just a blank brick building. Not to mention that the arches match the shape of the windows and doors themselves, all very symmetric.

This is just a small example of the effective use of different coloured bricks in an imaginative way and if you notice the picture of the smallest of the windows you will see alongside the window is another use of brickwork first used centuries ago, the buttress. Used to strengthen walls and sloped at the top to finish off another decorative effect. I hope to expand on more decorative uses of bricks and brickwork in future blogs without any technical jargon.