A portion of the original No 2 works of the Former Hoffman Brickworks, Dawson Street, Brunswick, including two Hoffman kilns, a remnant chimney from a third Hoffman kiln, a large brick press building containing nine brick presses, an edge runner mill, an engine house and an area of the former pottery works which may contain sub-surface remains of two kilns.
A large number of brickworks and potteries were established in the Brunswick area from the 1870s due to the presence of quality clay deposits. Formed in 1870, the Hoffman Patent Brick and Tile Company introduced large scale brick making to Victoria when they established brickworks on 4.9 hectares (12 acres) in Albert Street, Brunswick (not extant). Central to their brickmaking process was the revolutionary Hoffman kiln for which the company had patent rights. This kiln, developed in Prussia in 1859, allowed a continual process of loading 'green' bricks and allowed an economical use of fuel. Hoffman kilns were constructed at the original site in 1870, 1871 and 1875. In 1884 the restructured 'Hoffman Patent Steam Brick Company' purchased an additional 14.6 hectares (36 acres) of adjacent land to the south and opened their No 2 works fronting Dawson Street. This enabled an increase in production which reflected the dramatic growth of Melbourne at the time. Hoffman kilns were constructed at the No 2 works in 1884, 1888 and 1908; the latter replacing a Foster tunnel kiln erected in 1885. In 1887 a technologically advanced mechanised steam powered brick press was added to the site, based on the English Bradley-Craven principle and manufactured in Victoria. This resulted in a fully industrialised brick making process. Established as one of the largest brick manufacturer in Victoria by the late 1880s, the company began to diversify its range of products, and the eastern section of the site was developed as a pottery producing ceramic pipes and sanitary ware, and later tessellated tiles, terracotta items, Marseilles roofing tiles and decorative pottery ware. This included the production of drainage pipes for the Melbourne & Metropolitan Board of Works for the sewering of Melbourne from the 1890s.
By the early twentieth century the site contained three kilns, a large brick grinding and pressing building, an engine house, a special brick department to the west, a pottery works to the east and three tramways which connected with the main Coburg train line and transported bricks from the site. The depressions of both the 1890s and 1930s temporarily halted production at the Hoffman Brickworks and the No 1 works were permanently closed in 1941. Production continued at the No 2 works, however as kiln technology advanced after World War II, the Hoffman Company did not keep up with advances in the industry and fell behind in the market. Clifton Holdings bought the business in 1960 and the closure of the drain pipe division followed in 1962 and the other pottery works in 1969. Much of the pottery land to the east of the site was subdivided and sold. Nubrik purchased the brick making operations in 1986, but production ceased in 1993 and the site was sold to a development company in 1996. It has subsequently been redeveloped as parkland and for residential purposes.
The original Dawson Street brickworks site of 14.6 hectares (36 acres) has been greatly reduced. It contains two kilns (1888 & 1908) and a chimney from a third kiln (1884); a brick press building (part of which may date from 1884) which contains nine brick presses dating from the 1920s, 1960s and 1970s and an adjacent edge runner mill, and a small remnant section of the original pottery works to the east. The brick press building, situated to the west of the site, has a large iron clad gabled building at its core. Surrounding sections include a gabled brick building to the south west which was probably the former engine house. Two former Hoffman kilns, with tall brick chimneys, are located to the east of the brick press building and both have been adapted for residential use. The basic forms of these elliptical brick kilns, with battered lower walls, arched wicket openings and hipped iron roofs, have been retained. A third chimney is the only remnant of the first kiln erected in 1884 and this is located to the north west of the other kilns. The area surrounding the kilns is asphalted and an access road has been formed to the east. Further to the east is a small brick paved area; the site of two earlier pottery kilns which were once part of the extensive pottery works. Circular brick paving indicates the position of these kilns and there may be sub-surface remains.
This site is part of the traditional land of the Wurundjeri people.
How is it significant?
The Former Hoffman Brickworks, Brunswick is of archaeological, architectural, historical and scientific significance to the State of Victoria. It satisfies the following criterion for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register:
Criterion A Importance to the course, or pattern, of Victoria's cultural history
Criterion B Possession of uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of Victoria's cultural history
Criterion C Potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Victoria's cultural history
Criterion D Importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural places and objects
Criterion F Importance in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement at a particular period.
Why is it significant?
The Former Hoffman Brickworks, Brunswick is significant at the State level for the following reasons:
The Former Hoffman Brickworks, Brunswick is historically significant for its association with the development of Melbourne's brickmaking industry in the nineteenth century and the development of the city and suburbs in the twentieth century. This is clearly demonstrated in the establishment of the No 2 Works in 1884 in order to increase production during the Melbourne building boom of the 1880s and in the production of large quantities of pipes, building and household products at the site over a long period from the 1880s. [Criterion A]
The Former Hoffman Brickworks, Brunswick is historically significant as a rare surviving industrial site which is illustrative of Melbourne's brickmaking industry. The site retains a brick press building, with associated machinery, an engine house and two Hoffman kilns and three chimneys. The kilns were the last of their type to operate in metropolitan Melbourne. [Criterion B]
The Former Hoffman Brickworks, Brunswick is archaeologically significant for its potential to contain archaeological features, deposits and relics that relate to the development and use of the site from the mid-late nineteenth century onwards. [Criterion C]
The two remaining Hoffman kilns and the three chimneys at the Former Hoffman Brickworks, Brunswick are architecturally significant as rare remaining examples of these innovative kilns, designed with elliptical plans, battered brick bases and associated chimneys of circular tapering form. They demonstrate the large scale of the industrial process in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. [Criterion D]
The Former Hoffman Brickworks, Brunswick is scientifically significant for its adoption of the latest technology and the full industrialisation of the brickmaking industry in Victoria in the nineteenth century. This demonstration of a high degree of technical achievement included the first use of the Hoffman kiln in Victoria and the use of mechanised steam powered brick presses based on the Bradley-Craven method. [Criterion F]
The Former Hoffman Brickworks, Brunswick is also significant for the following reasons, but not at the State level:
The Former Hoffman Brickworks, Brunswick is of local historical significance as the only remnant example of the once highly important clay manufacturing industry which was central to the history of Brunswick.