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International Automotive Technicians Network
Mind chum No. 20 So many bricks
Posted to Open Discussion Forum on 9/3/2018 48 Replies

Well, good day to you all, and a happy Labor Day to you all. Going over some material and this one just sort of wrote itself, Enjoy!

Sometimes, by choosing where one stands you will find yourself in a particular location where you are surrounded by huge red brick buildings. Cathedrals to this area's industrial heritage Many are now vacant empty shells. Huge spaces were needed for the large and heavy machines that were housed inside.

Products produced were as varied as the workforce that was responsible for the operation of these machines. From paper and textiles to parts and tools, as well as machines for all other industries. I am sometimes amazed by the varieties of products that were made here.

Buildings of such a height and length, they were often clustered together for practical reasons, such as power and steam distribution. You can often find yourself in an area of perpetual twilight. Even though you know that the sun is shining and blue sky presents itself overhead. You are in a cool and shaded zone.

Built in numbers almost too high to count, the mills were in almost every town that had access to a river. And though the numbers have dwindled from what they used to be, they still present in huge numbers.

I am proud to say that my oldest son lives in one of these reclaimed monoliths. With exposed red brick on the interior and enormous timbers on the ceilings, it is an impressive place to dwell. To say that I am a bit envious would be an understatement. Red brick so many bricks, it boggles one's mind.

I try to imagine what it was like as these structures were being built, in the days before powered machinery was ever in use. Overbuilt to withstand not only the machinery loads inside but also their very own weight. Water is almost always present as the mills were dependent on a constant supply of fresh water. My son's building is no exception as he has the view of the canals from his windows.

Now it is not uncommon to see these mills constructed of different materials depending on the age of the structure. Cut stone block dates pre-civil war structures and poured concrete is going to be an early 20th-century building. I get why concrete was used, first off it was lower cost, And higher buildings were able to be built, Brick the limit, it seems is six stories in height. As well as concrete adding a level of fireproofing. No more oil-soaked wooden floors.

Now personally I have to admit that I am a sucker for these brick structures, simply due to such variations in the brickwork. And it almost seems like a regional thing as no two have the decorative work done the same way. Seems that I can almost always find something noteworthy to take pictures of with an old brick structure.

Now the answer to this question eludes me. And that is the why, why have such ornate masonry work on a mundane building like a factory? It could not have been cheap to do .as most of what I have seen looks to be very labor intensive to do, so why? It is a mystery for sure. But I am very glad that it was done.I can only come to the conclusion that it is a part of this countries era in architectural design functional and beautiful as well.

Today's monstrosities are anything but handsome, steel cubes that I have to wonder will they still be standing in a hundred years time? I highly doubt it.

So for diversity in the buildings as well as a diverse population that spent many years toiling in these places, I wish you all another happy Labor Day and till the next random thought comes along and roosts in my head, I wish you all well, .Bruce

Bruce Caron
Robison Service Company
Springfield, Massachusetts, USA

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