The naming of bricks was not only a British custom, below are a few I have been sent from foreign parts.
Duffel is a town in the province of Antwerp, Belgium. Well known for the origin of the heavy woollen cloth that makes the duffle coat. Photographed in a brick reclamation yard in Kent. Photo and info by Martyn Fretwell.
An unusual and somewhat sinister photo of a brick sent by Guilherme Correa. It came from the Southern Cross Ranch near Campina do Monte Alegre, 160 km from Sao Paulo. This was run by fervent Nazis in the 1930's The bricks were discovered recently when a new owner took over the property. The full story may be read here.
A paving brick photographed by Alan Murray-Rust in Ontario
The most southerly produced brick on the website by far! Robert Runyard writes:
This brick was found in the vicinity of the freezer works in Puerto Bories here in southern Chile. The city of Punta Arenas indicated on this brick is located on the straits of Magellan about 150 miles south of the brick discovery location. The shallow impression of the letters makes it difficult to read the first name in the upper left but the word MARCOU is related to an early French resident and investor in this region around the beginning of the 20th century. Among Marcou's other industries (besides brick manufacturing) he was involved in lumber mills and the earliest petroleum exploration in this region.
Chile was not known for extensive use of brick, but the extreme south was influenced perhaps more by European practices than by the distant central region of the country. During an uprising in 1877 nearly all the (wooden) buildings in the regional centre of Punta Arenas were destroyed by fire, and thus the authorities sought to reconstruct the city at least in part with brick. Unfortunately, the first attempt at brickworks fell victim to one of Chile's frequent earthquakes, in 1879. In 1892, Mauricio Braun, the most important business owner in the region at the time, imported brick from Uruguay for the construction of his "palace" on that city's main square. The success and need to emulate such "modern" and more civilised (and functional, for the region) brick construction surely incited Alejo Marcou's development of the brickworks ("Alejo Marcou i Co") and this represented the first successful production for this region.
Another one found by Robert Runyard near a now closed animal processing and freezer complex in Puerto Bories in Chilean Patagonia. Lota is known as one of Chile's few coal-producing areas (the mines have been closed for years) and it is located near Concepción in southern Chile. The "Lota Green" brickworks (officially "Refractarios Lota-Green Limitada") were founded in 1854. By 1863 this brickworks was providing 2 million bricks a year. The factory went on to produce ceramic dishware, tile, clay pipe, electrical insulators and similar objects. Many of the ceramic items became well known throughout Chile particularly for their "Art Nouveau" style, though the ceramics portion of the factory closed in 1951 while the brick-making continued until about 1997. In recent years the brickworks were purchased by Global Industrial Technologies, for their refractory products division.
David Kitching writes: Having never previously seen a Chinese brick with a name in the frog, I was surprised to find this example amidst demolished housing in the centre of Beipiao, Liaoning Province, North-east China. The spelling is an alternative pinyin version of the town name.
It seems the hobby is thriving in France as well, here are two examples submitted by Fabien:
Simon Patterson photographed these three French examples in Coulommiers in north central France:
Found in France and made at Passavant-la-Rochere, Haute-Saone. Image PRBCO.
Found by Frank Lawson near Verdun in France. Made some 30 miles to the west of Verdun in Ste Menehould.
French penal colony bricks
Thanks to Christian Clavel for these three photos of bricks used in the infamous French penal colonies in French Guyana. These colonies were made famous by Henri Charriere and the film based on his experiences: 'Papillon'.
Administration Penitentiaire ( St Jean du Maroni)
Administration Penitentiaire (St Laurent du Maroni)
H.R for hopital de la reclusion.
Rajmund Graf von Montecuccoli, Austro-Hungarian general, chief
captain of Győr City. Made in 1669 and the oldest brick on
the website. Photo sent by Dr. Szűcs István. There is
a Hungarian brick forum, with 30,000(!) bricks online here
Frank Lawson sent this photo of a brick which came from
Delhi. Frank writes: ' I am told that the initials RBF stand
for Ram Building Fund and that the bricks were subscribed for by
the public to fund the building of a temple. The swastika is a
Hindu religious symbol which is thought to be auspicious and is
often found on Indian bricks as it is supposed to bring good
The Athy Brick & Tile Co Ltd started production in 1893. £120,000 was expended on machinery and buildings on a site on the Monasterevan road at the northern side of the town. Weekly output was around 80,000 bricks and the principal market was Dublin. Octagon, bull-nose, and every variety of moulded brick were made. Photo and information by David Kitching.
Kingscourt is a town on the County Cavan-County Meath border in the Republic of Ireland. A notable employer in the town today is Kingscourt Brick, now part of the Lagan Group. Photo and information by David Kitching.
On the shores of Lough Allen between Tarmon and Drumkerran was
the Lough Allen Brick Works, a factory set up in the early 19th
century by the Limerick Steamship Company. The raw material, clay
and shale which were used in the brick making were mined a short
distance from the jetty, and coal used in the baking of the brick
was taken from nearby coal pits. Fire bricks, pipes and tiles were
manufactured until closure in the 1920s. Photo and information by
An M.T.Strelin brick found in St Petersburg by Vladimir N Smirnov. This is a very famous brickyard est. 1875 and the whole Strelin's family (the father and later 2 sons) owned 3 different brick plants around St.Petersburg. Vladimir has a collection of over 800 Russian bricks found in the St Petersburg area. The bricks all pre-date the 1917 Revolution after which the name stamping of bricks ended. His website may be viewed here, it is in the Russian language.
A brick from 1696, one of Peter Gyekes extensive collection of Slovakian and Hungarian bricks.
David Kitching writes: A visit to the former Hathern Station Brickworks in Leicestershire yielded a surprise in this brick which is a product of the Harry Brigham & Bros yard on the Hudson River at East Kingston, New York state. Brickmaking commenced here in 1904. How did it come to be in the UK? The answer is that there is still design undertaken here for terracotta restoration work and the brick was attached to the back of a piece that had been shipped over from a building in New York so that a replacement could be made by Shaws of Darwen who maintain a design section here after the demise of the Hathern operation when Ibstock closed the site.
I found the above in a Welsh slate quarry. I understand it is an American brick made by the Robinson Sewer Pipe Company of New York, thanks to Fred Rieck for the information. How it ended up in North Wales is another matter.
An American brick found by Robert Runyard in southern Argentina. A long way from where it was made on the Hudson River.