Creative Variation – Sussex bond

Our two brick layers turned up on Monday as promised. We have two brothers who have been laying bricks for most of their lives. They have done a lot of work on heritage buildings, so looking at our old school classroom dating back to 1893 was pretty straight forward for them. Yes, it is a variation on Flemish bond brick work, but not at all really like Flemish. It’s a variation!

I have done a fair bit of research on the brick pattern and it is some sort of hybrid along the lines of Sussex wall bond. So we assume that that our old brickie, way back in 1893 was from Sussex, or was taught by someone who was, and wasn’t too concerned about the regularity of his laying pattern. There are lots of variations from 3:1 stretchers to a header, to 2:1 stretchers to a header, right down to 1:1

He used both queen closers, which is a 1/4 sized brick, and king closers where necessary to fit the space allowed between windows and door etc. It’s a mixed bag variation. This is terrific for me, as it means that we can do almost anything that fits the space, as needed. As long as we put a snap header in every one or two stretchers. Gordon and Bill work it out with me as we go. “What should we do here?”, “What do you think of this”. I always refer back to the original building, but also to the addition that we did in 1985/86/87. Our brickie at that time was Denis, a semi retired, older Englishman, who lived locally and very experienced and capable tradesman. He did a terrific job of matching the additions onto the original building.

All of us added up, Gordon, Bill and I together, total 213 years of experience with this heritage brickwork. We are working it out as we go along in a really gentle and flexible way, so as to get the best outcome. It’s looking good. We are really lucky to meet these two guys. They are really great to work with, and the job is coming along really well.

I’m working pretty hard, keeping up the bricks and mortar to these two brickies. Janine is still at the brick cleaning bench part of each day, cleaning the halves and broken bricks that are so important to the look of the bond. We have so many broken bits in the pile of old bricks that we salvaged from the old Mittagong Railway Station. I want to use them all up, to save cutting whole bricks. We have them here, so we have to use them.

At the end of each day, while the brickies clean up and dress down the work. I go to the diamond blade brick saw and start to work through the pile of total reject bricks that have no real use as they are partly shattered, or broken at both ends. I cut these up on the saw bench to make 1/4 brick pieces to use as the ‘Queen closers’. This is an essential part of the ‘look’ of the brick bond pattern. These are an essential part of the bond pattern. At this stage in the job, I need 14 1/4 bricks in each course, as they are laying about 5 or 6 courses per day. I need to cut 70 or 80 pieces each afternoon after work, to be ready for the next day.

On the 4th day, there is just Gordon here for a short day. We place all 5 of the sand stone window sills that I made. The first one takes a little time to get right, then they all go in pretty easily after that, once we had figured out the best way to do it.

I’m very pleased with the outcome. Once they are bricked in and pointed up they look terrific!