Inverell-made bricks are the foundation of district history

HARD AT IT: Workers at the brickworks in 1968.
HARD AT IT: Workers at the brickworks in 1968.

Much of Inverell was built with bricks made right here at home. One of the first brickworks at Inverell was owned by William Brice, who had a kiln at Middle Creek near Cunningham’s Hill Goonoowigall. Next on that same site was George Nott, a well-known builder in the area.

Mr Nott turned out an staggering 20,000 handmade bricks a week in 1901. Soon this became insufficient for Inverell’s rate of brick buildings, so Mr Nott bought neighbouring land and built up his business by adding three more kilns to fire 70,000 bricks each week.

He put in a tramway between each kiln. Thirty men were employed in the industry at the time, among them Alfred Taylor, Henry Legge and Henry Taylor. 

The brickworks was acquired by Ben Wade in 1918, and 10 years later, he moved the factory to Ring Street Inverell where it functioned until about 1974.

The new brickworks turned out one million bricks a year. Among the first Wade brick buildings in Inverell were the second Roman Catholic Church in Otho Street, the Hotel Inverell, and the new Tattersall’s Hotel.

Ben Wade was experimenting with fine clay instead of heavy clay for making his bricks; he also used a unique pressing to finish his product. His purchase of a down-draft kiln using wood and coal, the latter he obtained from Gunnedah proved a winner.  

This modern equipment made his brickyard the most efficient in the North West. Mr Wade’s brick-making business became so successful, he put in another kiln and employed more men to fill orders from outside the Inverell district.

Proximity to the railway facilitated easy transport bricks to other centres. Mr Wade’s aim was to produce a perfect product at a reasonable price.  

Over the years the brick making industry changed dramatically: the size of bricks - different clays, textured bricks. There were smaller kilns and the introduction of tile making plants, smaller kilns, and the introduction of tile making plants. 

The brickyard closed in 1974, but the remnants of the brickworks can be seen on vacant land next to Vineyard Joinery in Ring Street.