Considering the vast quantity of brickwork done in the metropolis, it is a matter for congratulation that such sound materials as good stock bricks, stone lime, and Thames sand are so easily procurable, and can be had at a price that puts them within the reach of all respectable builders. When a clamp has been burnt its contents are found to have been unequally fired, and are part of them underburnt, part well burnt, part overburnt. They are sorted accordingly into shuffs, grizzles, stocks of two or three qualities, shippers, and burrs. Several sorts of malm stocks, which are superior in color and texture, are made, and are used for facing bricks and for cutting; and what are called paviors, which are dark and strong bricks, are also made. The London stock is erroneously, but usually, described as gray. It is really of a pie crust yellow of various tones. Sometimes it is the same color when cut, but the hardest stocks are of a dark, dirty purple or brown, or sometimes nearly black inside. A stock brick is rarely quite square or quite true; its surface is often disfigured by black specks and small pits, and a stack of them often looks uninviting; yet a skillful bricklayer, by throwing out the worst, by placing those of bad colors or much out of shape in the heart of the wall, and by bringing to the front the best end or side of those bricks which form part of the face, can always make the bricks in his work look far better than in the stack.
Another important group is the group of Suffolk and Norfolk bricks, red and white. These are very largely employed as facing bricks and for arches and cut mouldings.
Moulded bricks are also to a large extent made of the same material. These bricks are brought to London in large quantities. They have a sanded face, are mostly square, true, and of uniform color, but they are usually porous, soft, and absorbent. Still, they are in great demand as facing bricks, and the moulded bricks enable the architect to produce many architectural effects at a moderate outlay. These fields furnish many sorts of bricks, which are called rubbers, and which are employed (as malm stocks also are) for arches of the more elaborate sort, where each brick is cut to its shape and rubbed true, and for mouldings, and even sometimes for carving.
Mouldings that are formed by cutting the bricks can be got more perfectly true than when moulded bricks are used; but the expense is greater, and when it is done the material is less durable, for the softer sorts of brick are naturally used for cutting, and the moulded face is less sound than the original burnt face of any brick. Red bricks are to some extent made in fields within easy reach of London; but the best come from some distance. Red Suffolk bricks have been alluded to. There is a considerable importation of red Fareham bricks, brought all the way from the vicinity of Portsmouth; these are good both in quality and color. Good red bricks are also now made at Ascot, and are being used to a considerable extent in the metropolis. A strawberry-colored brick from Luton has been extensively used at Hampstead. It is hard, and of a color which contrasts well with stone, but not very pleasing used alone. Glazed bricks of all colors are obtainable. They are usually very hard and square, and the use of them where an impervious glazed face is required, as, for example, in a good stable, is better than the employment of glazed tiles, in the employment of which there is always a possibility of part of the lining becoming loose or falling off.
There is a difficulty in obtaining a large quantity (of some colors, at least) exactly uniform in tint. Bricks with a very hard face, but not glazed, are obtainable. What is called a washing brick is now made in various colors, adapted for the lining of interiors, and there are hard bricks of a very pale straw color, known as Beart's patent bricks, made, I believe, of gault clay, which were some years ago bought up by the Great Northern Railway in large numbers. These bricks have the peculiarity of being pierced with holes about ½ in. in diameter, passing quite through the brick, and they are extremely hard, partly because these holes permit the hot air and smoke in the kiln to approach very near to the interior of the brick. I am of opinion that the glazed or dull qualities of hard bricks might with great advantage be often introduced into London streets. What we want is something that will wash. The rough surface of stocks or Suffolk facing bricks catches the black in the London atmosphere and gradually gets dark and dull. A perfectly hard face is washed clean by every shower.
A good many years ago I built a warehouse with stock bricks, and formed the arches, strings, etc., of bricks with a very hard face, and, as I expected, the effect of time has been to make these features stand out far better than when they were fresh; in fact, the only question is whether they have not now become too conspicuous. To return to the bricks in the London market: we have firebricks made of fireclay, and almost vitrified and capable of standing intense heat. These are used for lining furnaces, ovens, flues, etc.
Then we have almost, if not quite, as refractory a material in Staffordshire blue bricks, used--in various forms--for paving channels, jambs of archways, etc. There are also small bricks called clinkers, chiefly used for stable paving. Dutch clinkers, formerly imported largely from Holland, were small, rough bricks, laid on edge, and affording a good foothold for the horse. Adamantine clinkers, made of gault clay, are much used; they must have chamfered edges, otherwise they make too smooth a floor for a stable. Many other varieties are obtainable in London, and are more or less used, but these are the most prominent. In many parts of England special varieties of brick are to be found, and every here and there one falls upon a good brickmaker who is able to produce good moulded or embossed or ornamental bricks, such as those which have been supplied to me years ago by Mr. Gunton, and more recently by Mr. Brown, both of Norwich, or by Mr. Cooper, of Maidenhead.