Brick Kiln

“Vomiting Smoke”

The following vivid description of the smoke which came from the production of brick must have been apparent in our town, Brighton , N. Y. but I have found no description.


“..Oxford herself lies full and fair before you; her staring new red suburbs reaching away like unlovely wings on either side. There is the tower of Iffley church and the immemorial poplars. Northwards rise the woods of Wytham, their dark green masses glorified into orange by the vivid sunlight. Below them Eusham and all “the grassy harvest of the river fields,” threaded by the shy silver of the youthful Thames, from whose farther bank the slender spire of Cassington soars into the golden air. Westward, beneath your feet lies Cumnor, half hidden in its leafy nest; and above Cumnor and all away to the west and south west, the Berkshire moors go rolling on. down after down, to the far blue line of the Cotswolds. Many a time in my month’s holiday did I look over that scene, and in many a change of light and shade, beneath blue skies and gray, and once even through the driving rain, but its infinite variety never grew stale to my eyes.
Still there was the amari aliquid of course. On the Cumnor side of the slope, marring all the western view, a tall red chimney, vomiting smoke from its black mouth, marks a brick kiln of the lords of Abingdon. Gratifying, no doubt, as another sign of the tireless industry of the Anglo-Saxon race; but not beautiful. And there must be so many ugly spots which a wilderness of chimneys could make no uglier.”
From: The Living Age…Volume 167, Issue 2165, page 755
Publication Date: December 19, 1885
Title: “On Classic Ground” Listed as an Article from Macmillan’s Magazine
But no author was listed. (A man, unnamed revisiting Oxford England)

 

The recent photo above of the brick works at Kabul illustrates the immense smoke problem. Kabul the capital of Afghanistan; pop. 700,000. It is situated in the northeastern part of the country, with a strategic position commanding the mountain passes through the Hindu Kush, esp. the Khyber Pass.

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Oct. 30, 2005, 10:12AM
A MATERIAL CHANGE
Many of Afghanistan's brick factories are standing idle despite a post-Taliban war reconstruction boom
OLD WAY OF LIFE CRUMBLING AWAY
By DANIEL LOVERING
Associated Press


Dozens of towering, mud-walled ovens dot an arid plain near the Afghan capital, yet most are cold. Only about 20 emit the thick black smoke that shows they are pursuing their purpose — baking bricks.Just four years ago, the open-air factories on the southeastern fringe of Kabul bustled as builders bought up thousands of the pale brown bricks to supply a construction boom after the fall of the hard-line Taliban regime.
With international aid agencies, U.S. military reconstruction teams and private citizens now opting more for concrete, business has waned and many of the 150 ovens stand idle.
"People want to have concrete houses, not mud," said Bashir Ahmad, Kabul municipality's deputy director for policy and planning.
The city's complexion has changed. Concrete office buildings and bungalows have emerged alongside structures pocked with bullets from more than two decades of conflict and the tumbledown mud-brick houses that have traditionally crowded Kabul's streets.
"At the beginning, the demand for bricks was so strong that we weren't able to produce enough," said Amir Mohammed, 48, who has made bricks in the area known as Houssinkhail for nearly 40 years and owns four of the giant beehive-like kilns.
"Now our business is getting worse day by day," he said, adding that one of his factories operated at a loss during July of about 18,000 Afghanis, or about $360 — a substantial amount in Afghanistan.
Many Afghans now prefer concrete or cinder blocks because they last longer than mud bricks.
Also, concrete denotes higher social status and impresses relatives and neighbors, residents say.
In poor districts where people can build for free, particularly the steep mountain slopes that circle Kabul, homes are still mostly made of brick.
In other parts of the city, homebuilders are turning to concrete for floors and pillars while using bricks for the walls.
Many of the brick factories in Houssinkhail sprang up during the post-Taliban property boom.
Mohammed said the 20 or so that are now operating produce 75,000 to 130,000 bricks during an eight- to 12-day firing period.
Making bricks takes weeks. Laborers shovel clay from the ground, add water and use wooden grids to shape the bricks.
Then they are stacked inside the ovens and around chimneys, drying and hardening as workers stoke blazing fires around the clock with wood, coal and sometimes rubber.
After being fired, the bricks are set out to cool for five to seven days before they are delivered to customers.
Even during the 1990s, when civil war and then Taliban rule slowed Kabul's economy, Mohammed said he employed 70 workers a day.
Now he has just three on his payroll, earning about $4 each daily.
"I just hope our business will come back again," he said.


Chronology

 Brickyard Map

Sand & Lime

References