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Block Carving

Carved brickwork can be found on many high quality period red brick buildings in Britain, which reached the height of popularity in the late 1800’s. The washed clay blocks can be carved to detailed patterns and profiles which require sympathetic restoration to return them to their original glory.

block carving

Hand Cut Bricks

Hand cut brickwork has a tradition almost as old as brick making itself and is still required to produce the intricate shapes and profiles for ‘rubbed & gauged brickwork’. The skills and techniques are similar to stone masonry except clay blocks are much softer.

Rubbed and Gauged Brickwork

The highly skilled work of block carving and brick cutting is still undertaken at Bulmer using fully washed rubbers produced from soft red London bed clays that are still quarried, moulded and fired on this site.

The Red Rubber blocks are rubbed or sanded and mechanically sawn to a rectangular ‘ashlar’ shape. This cut block is then placed between two identical timber templates and cut accurately to the required profile. The block is clamped in position and a twisted wire blade in a traditional bow saw is used to manually cut through the brick around the profile. When cut the detail is rubbed in using fine abrasive papers to achieve a sharp arris or edge giving a clean line to the lime putty joints which may be as tight a 1/32nd inch or 0.8mm.

 

Restoration Projects

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital

The hospital was completed in 1890 and remained as a hospital until 2000.

After lying derelict, it was repaired and refurbished for its current use as part of the Unison Centre.

Palace House Mansions, Newmarket

Restoration of the Grade 1 Listed mansion of King Charles II revealed very early examples of rubbed & gauged arches. Unwashed clay blocks were cut to match the original arches which were laid in lime using traditional methods.

Draycott House, Chelsea

This fine example of carved brickwork is for Draycott House in Chelsea. Bulmer Brick Cutting prepared and supplied the fully washed rubbers, and shared the bricklaying role for the fine jointed ashlar work with the brick carvers, Daniel Mundy and colleagues.