A brick wall, late 20th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Photograph of a section of a wall made from bricks. Bricks have been manufactured for construction since ancient times. The Mesopotamians discovered that firing clay bricks in a kiln made them harder and more resistant to erosion. The rapid urbanisation which occurred in Britain during the Industrial Revolution brought about a boom in the brick-making industry. Bricks were cheap, easy to produce in large quantities, and their regular shape enabled quicker construction than stone which had to be worked into the desired shape before use. By the middle of the 19th century, 500 million bricks were being produced every year in the London area alone. By 1900 virtually all bricks were machine-made.