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LOCAL INDUSTRIES., Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 10, 18 October 1879
I No. 11. I Messrs Montgomery & Co.’s Brick I Manufactory. By the courtesy of Mr Stephen Potter - , the manager of Messrs Montgomery and Co. ’s brick manufactory, our reporter obtained the following description of this important establishment. The works are situated, on the North Town Belt, opposite the Public Domain, and the area of land in connection with them is twenty acres in extent, the greater portion of which is at present a beautiful verdant paddock, in English grass. The most important and prominent feature in the works is the kiln. This is an oval-shaped structure of brick, about 90ft. long, 30ft. wide, the sides having a slight slope inwards, and about 12ft. in height. In the centre of this pile, is the smoke shaft, about 90ft. in height, and, as may be imagined, it is a very prominent land mark, and oh our broad plains can be seen for miles in all directions. The kiln itself, in the building of which 100,000 bricks Were used, bears a resemblance in shape to Effort, and the 12 doors to the chambers very fairly represent the embrasures for the guns; or it might be compared to a huge copy of the Noah’s Ark which our childhood’s fancy used to paint. It is constructed on what is known as Hoffman’s patent which is now extensively used in the old country, and the whole of the work has been carriel out under the supervision of Mr Potter It possesses many advantages over the old fashioned system. The chambers are never idle, the process of working being somewhat as follows r-There are 12cbambersin the erection, each being entered by a doorway and passage; these are filled with the raw bricks in rotation, each chamber having a capacity for about 6000 bricks. By a system of flues and dampers the draught can be made to circulate through the structure in any desired direction. The fuel used is slack coal, and the quantity required is from two to three cwt. per thousand bricks. The top of the lain is flat and covered in, the heat not being so notiaaable as one would expect from such a body of flame as exists in the heart of the kiln. A number of earthenware flues lead down to the chambers for the purpose of supplying fuel, which has to be done at intervals of from 1J to 3 hours, according to the draught. Each flue is covered with a cap, and on removing this the fires canbe seen in all the different stages, according to the progress made in the burning of the bricks—varying from the commencement of the process, where the flames ore just beginning to burst out, to an intense .white heat, where the process is in full blast, and decreasing again where the batch is baked, and gradually cooling. The rotation of the work is very interesting, as when in full work the burning process is going oifeiTwdl its varieties of temperature simiplß^fcgly; and whilst in one chamber tEUgreen bricks are being stacked, the flipped article is being wheeled away and stored ready for a customer, and between the two the batches are in various stages of burning. A great many advantages are gained by this process. There is perfect regularity in the heat in each chamber, consequently there is complete uniformity in the quality of the article manufactured. All smoke is consumed, and there is thus no annoyance to residents in the neighborhood. This is no small advantage when we recollect the disagreeable smell from the old style of kiln. The production is far more economical, and the quality has been pronounced by competent judges to be superior to anything in New Zealand for resisting either damp or pressure, and this, after all, is the great object to be
gUo.ed. 'Bricks from this kiln are now being used in the construction of the County Hospital, and both Mr Oarleton, the contractor, and his foreman, Mr Johnson, have stated that they have not seen bricks in the colony equal to them. Tke hospital will require close on 3000,000 to complete the present contract. The enterprising proprietors of the brick factory intend keeping a stock of about half a million constantly on hand, so as to be prepared for any sudden demand. Within a few yards of the kiln is the brickmaking and moulding machinery, a massive construction of cog-wheels and rollers, and which looks powerful enough to crush the hardest rock instead of plastic clay, but Mr Potter assured me there was no unnecessary weight about it. A staging is erected, on which is a hopper to receive the raw clay, which is “chawed up ” between two ponderous rollers, set about a quarter of an inch apart. The appetite of this monster is equal to about three barrow loads a minute. After leaving the rollers the clay gets into a pugmill, wliich further mixes it, and again between two other rollers, and is then conveyed through the mould, then along a web, to be finally cut by wires into the proper sized bricks. This machine is capable of turning out 1,000 per hour, and jtytkes a sixteen horse-power engine to work it. It is not in operation at present, as the demand for bricks is not sufficient to keep it in full employment. An advantage gained by this machine is that the bricks are denser, owing to the more thorough working the raw material receives, and to the fact that it is not necessary to use any sand in the moulding of them ; the sample of machine-made bricks being far superior to those moulded by manual labor. At present the clay is being kneaded in pug mills, worked by horses, and it seems to tax the strength of a good draught animal to keep going on his monotonous round. There are four moulders employed, and about 12 hands altogether. They can turn out 6000 a day, but the present demand is less than that. There are six drying sheds erected close by the kiln, each 160 feet in length, the storage capacity being 140,000 bricks at a time. Of course moulding operations have to be suspendad for about two months in winter, but, as above stated, - there will always be a sufficient stock kept on hand to meet requirements in the district. The works are well situated with regard to water Supply, us Messrs Saunders Bros.’ millrace runs along the boundary of the property, and as’ the level of the water is 8 inches above the surface of the X adjoining land there is no difficulty in ' .conveying it to any desired place. Nature ;has provided drainage in a creek bed runningufenugh the property, and an outfall feet can be utilised if found necessaJr. I.m h ■ V
The total cost of the works has ex, ceeded £4OOO, and it must be evident that they are of great importance to the district. As a matter of fact, bricks can now be sold by Messrs Montgomery and Co. for prices ranging from 30s per thousand upwards, according to quality ; and although the firm do not make so large a profit by selling at the low prices as they did by the disposal of those previously imported from Christchurch, they are quite satisfied to give their customers the advantage of the cheaper rate, in the hope that they will by that course induce the public to support the local manufactory. It is to be hoped that their anticipations will be realised, and that the works will be kept in full swing. The raw material is practically inexhaustible, Mr hotter calculating that each acre will turn out four million bricks. There is thus very little doubt that the future buildings of the Ashburton will be constructed of the more durable and less costly material.
LOCAL INDUSTRIES., Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 10, 18 October 1879
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