Maylands Brickworks

Maylands Brickworks, Maylands, Western Australia The Maylands Brickworks was established on the Maylands Peninsula in 1927 by Messrs, Atkins and Law and was the most modern of its kind in the State. Mr K. Atkins and Mr R.O. Law had previously established the Metropolitan Brick Company (Metro Brick) in 1906.

In 1922, Mr Law purchased the land on the Peninsula after he discovered extensive clay deposits that had formed along the Swan River.The site was chosen to take advantage of better quality clay and easier access to Perth (due to the availability of motor trucks instead of rail). Maylands Brickworks, Hoffmann Kiln, Maylands, Western AustraliaThe brickworks comprised of a Hoffmann Kiln, drying sheds, pug mill, a brick making extruder, gatehouse, change rooms and workshops. Between 1927-1936 the brickworks had a capacity to produce up to 7 million bricks per year.

Originally the clay was extracted from the pits by use of picks and shovels. A McCormick Dearing Motor Steam Shovel later replaced the manual process.  After the clay was dug from the pits it was then loaded onto skips or buckets and transported by rail trolleys (that were pushed by hand ) to the waiting cables known as the "endless loop". The skips were then attached to the cable by large hooks and transported to the pug mill. From the Pug Mill the skips were then emptied into a feeder bin, where the clay was hammered and rolled. The clay was then fed through an extruder, producing a line of wet clay. Maylands Brickworks, Hoffmann Kiln, Maylands, Western AustraliaThe line of wet clay was then pushed through a seven wire cutter which would cut six bricks at a time. The wet bricks (referred to as "green" bricks) were then loaded by hand onto timber pallets and transported to the drying sheds. The "green" bricks were then bagged or sacked and left to dry for two weeks before being transferred to the kiln. During the wet months of the year coal was ignited and placed under the green bricks to speed up the drying process.

Maylands Brickworks, Hoffmann Kiln, Maylands, Western AustraliaAt the kiln the bricks were stacked into bunks and placed into the Hoffmann Kiln by a 4 directional hand kiln trolley which allowed the bricks to be placed closer together. The Hoffmann Kiln had a single 34m high chimney and 19 chambers. From 1927-1967 the kiln operated on powdered coal and was then later changed to an oil fired system. The kiln worked on a principal of rotating firing from above. Once the kiln was filled with the bricks, powdered coal was poured into the kiln from holes that were located on the roof. This caused a fire which would burn between the bricks. The kiln operated 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Whilst one section of the kiln was being used to fire bricks another section was being filled with "green" bricks and yet another was being emptied.

In the mid 1930's the Hoffman Kiln at the Helena Vale brickworks was dismantled and bought to Maylands but was later demolished after being damaged during the Meckering earthquake of 1968. Also during this time new methods and processes were introduced to increase the brickworks efficiency. This included using new drying shed methods and the introduction of high speed rollers in the Pug Mill process.

Maylands Brickworks, Hoffmann Kiln, Maylands, Western AustraliaThe brickworks employed over 130 people and became one of the major industries in the Maylands area. The Maylands Brickworks ceased operations in 1983 and was to be completely demolished on its closure however a public outcry ensued resulting in the area being preserved as a significant example of industrial archaeology.

Today the Hoffman Kiln is one of only two that still exist in Australia. Even though bricklaying technology has advanced over the years, during its time the Maylands Brickworks was considered an innovative and efficient brick producer and remains an important symbol of the social and economic history of the area.

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