James Shears

James Shears, From a Family Member..........

Thought you might like see this photo of a brick made about 1873 in Timaru by my Great Uncle , James Shears, with his initials just decipherable in the frog.

Can't let you have the brick as it now part of a barbecue that I built hence the smoke stains.

James Shears would have made this brick with others to rebuild the Club Hotel in Timaru after it had been destroyed by fire and the bricks would have been made from clay won on the site and then stacked and fired on site by what was called a clamp firing. The temporary kiln was dismantled and the stack of bricks were then available for the masons.

Later other members of James family emigrated from London and a brick works was built in College Road Timaru eventually with a circular Hoffman's Improved Patent Kiln which was capable of firing 60,000 bricks per week.


More details from, and many thanks to John Shears for photos and information"

James Shears

Hoffman Kiln Timaru Built C 1874 Hoffman was a German engineer and his patent kiln allowed for continuous loading,drying, firing and withdrawal of the fired bricks ready for sale. This kiln was able to fire some 60,000 bricks per week. Coal was the fuel used and was introduced from above and firemen worked shifts around the clock ensuring that the right temperatures were maintained. The fire was shifted around the kiln on a regular cycle . Alan , Huntly Bricks had a similar but simpler version when I was doing some work with them a few years ago in the form of a large U oil fired but used the same principal but loaded and unloaded from above section by section whilst the rest of the kiln was closed off. They were firing very high temp refractories , perhaps as high as 1600-1800C if I recall correctly, quite a bit higher than commons for building.

James Shears

Brickworks College Rd Timaru 1910 and shows 23 employees. The Shears family had sold the works in 1887. Bricks were made up until 1970. and the kiln and chimney were demolished in 1972.

James Shears

Shears Family Brickmaking copy Top centre with hat & white shirt is James Shears and the object to his right is the bar of the horse whim.The horse (out of the picture to the left) walked anti-clockwise in this case. James would have been standing near the large tub which contained the clay wet to the right consistency and which was forced through an aperture to the right of the Shears brother sitting 3rd from the right by means of a large steel or stone roller moved round and round by the horse as it pulled the whim bar. The brickmakers would cut off a piece of clay as it was extruded from the pug mill and finalise the shape in the mould and turn the green brick out onto a type of tray and then onto the "Cockney crowding barrow" to be wheeled to the drying sheds. The barrow in the photo is loaded with 32 green bricks,quite heavy but manageable because of the barrow design, the yard used steel plates to ease the barrows progress. form mill to drying shed and later to the kiln.

James Shears

Club Hotel Timaru source of Brick with JS in frog copy, The Hotel is being demolished about 1970.


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Updated 31 May 2011.
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