Ira St Former Brickworks Wall

Heritage object

Ira Street, Miramar, Wellington
Map
  • Constructed

    c.1925

  • Architect(s)

    Unknown

  • Builder(s)

    Unknown

  • The former Brickworks Wall is an excellent example of brickwork; it is a well built and authentic example of brick wall construction. 

    This low brick wall, found at the foot of the hill alongside Ira Street, is the only physical remnant of the brickworks that once occupied this part of Miramar. The wall is all that is now left of the Gasco (later Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Co.) brickworks was a significant local industrial plant that produced bricks, pipes, and chimney pots, provided employment for many local people and provided materials for Wellington’s construction and drain laying industries.

    The former brickworks wall contributes to a sense of place and continuity in Miramar as it is the only remnant of the former brickworks and a physical reminder of the hey-day of brick making in Wellington.

  • close History
    • This low brick wall, found at the foot of the hill alongside Ira Street, is the only physical remnant of the brickworks that once occupied this part of Miramar. The wall is all that is now left of the Gasco (later Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Co.) brickworks, which was a significant local industrial plant that produced bricks, pipes, and chimney pots, provided employment for many local people and provided materials for Wellington’s construction and drain laying industries. 

      Gasco was originally formed to acquire land and brickworks that already occupied the site owned by the Wellington Gas Company (WGC). The manager of the (WGC) brickworks, J.R. Todd, was given the option to take over 14 acres of land in Ira Street, and the existing brick making plant. He approached other Wellington businessmen, including draper Douglas Patrick, and Evening Post owner Henry Blundell, and a company with a nominal capital of £40,000 was formed. The WGC plant was located at the company’s gasworks on the western side of Miramar, and the Ira Street site was originally used as a source of clay. It is likely that it was used for this purpose around 1918, and it is unclear if the WGC had any buildings on the site. 

      Once operations had begun on the new site, Gasco erected a series of buildings. The most significant feature if the new brickworks was the tall chimney, which is visible in many historic images of Miramar. The brickworks chimney, as well as the nearby gasworks chimney, 

      By the late 1920s the country had an abundant supply of bricks, and at one point Fletcher construction, which owned two brickworks (in Auckland and Silverstream), were paid by the other brick makers not to make bricks. Fletchers at this time turned their attention to making hollow tiles and facing bricks and bought two plants in the United States to make the new products. These were instantly successful and very quickly Fletchers were in the position of being paid for making a hugely successful product. 

      This situation was unsustainable for the other brick manufacturers and, in an agreement, the Auckland brick manufacturers, including Fletchers, decided to form a conglomerate and the Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Co., as it became known was established. A similar arrangement was then made in Wellington which led to Gasco’s operations becoming part of the Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Col. 

      The amalgamated company went on to dominate brick production in the North Island for the next 30 years. Among the best known uses of the bricks made was the Wellington Railway Station, completed in 1937. While Gasco’s bricks were characterised by the name of the company in a dimple on one side, or by the use of a stylised imprint on one side, the Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Co., effectively became a monopoly, and it appears did not imprint its bricks. 

      The brick works operated until 1968, closing due to re-zoning of the land from industrial to residential by the Wellington City Council.   The Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Co. considered taking legal action to have this decision reversed but was informed that any such action was unlikely to be successful. Though it was possible to continue making bricks under the new zoning, the decision was made to close the plant and build another in a less constrained location. In order to realise the best price for the land, the company looked for a buyer to redevelop the land as a new residential subdivision. 

      The brickworks buildings were demolished between 1969 and 1970, and the felling of the chimney in particular was a major event as the brick structure did not go easily. The removal of the plant left a partially excavated, denuded hill behind and, to assist the housing development that followed, the remains were levelled and spoil pushed over where the plant had been. This considerably reduced the flat area alongside Ira Street but helped broaden the sub-dividable land above and left a steep slope adjacent to Ira Street. Of the brickworks, this brick wall is the only survivor of the earthworks, and is now the only tangible reminder of its existence. 

      This brick wall, while rather unassuming, is a physical link to the history of the area and the only remnant of Miramar’s brick making past. It is in good condition with no significant cracking or subsidence and has technical value as a well built, authentic example of brick wall construction.      

  • close Architectural Information
    • Building Classification(s) close

      Not assessed

    • Architecture close

      The Ira Street Brick Wall is constructed of fired clay bricks, 10 courses high, with two rows of bricks on edge (with bull nosed corners) on top. The bricks are laid in English Garden Wall bond, with a course of headers (bricks laid end on to the face of the wall) laid between every three courses of stretchers (bricks laid side on). There are rectangular weep holes placed at intervals along the bottom course, with several clay pipes protruding about halfway up the wall. The bricks are laid with a cement mortar, which is still in good condition, and the whole wall rests on a concrete foundation. The northern end of the wall is roughly finished, as approximately six metres of the wall has been demolished at this end; the southern end is cleanly finished, indicating that this was the original end of the wall. The wall is in good condition with no significant cracking or subsidence.  

    • Materials close
      • Brick
      • Concrete
      • Cement mortar
    • Setting close

      The Ira Street Wall is located on the eastern side of Ira Street near to the Otaki Street intersection. It is now at the foot of a large bank surmounted by 1970s and 1980s housing. The bank is covered in low scrub and presents a verdant backdrop for the wall; the colour contrast emphasises the wall in the streetscape.

      The wider setting is residential Miramar, a suburb developed in the 1920s and 1930s that has undergone significant development over the decades and now has a comprehensive selection of housing styles and development types from all eras.  

  • close Cultural Value
    The former Brickworks Wall is an excellent example of brickwork; it is a well built and authentic example of brick wall construction. 

    This low brick wall, found at the foot of the hill alongside Ira Street, is the only physical remnant of the brickworks that once occupied this part of Miramar. The wall is all that is now left of the Gasco (later Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Co.) brickworks was a significant local industrial plant that produced bricks, pipes, and chimney pots, provided employment for many local people and provided materials for Wellington’s construction and drain laying industries.

    The former brickworks wall contributes to a sense of place and continuity in Miramar as it is the only remnant of the former brickworks and a physical reminder of the hey-day of brick making in Wellington.


    • Aesthetic Value close
      • Architectural

        Does the item have architectural or artistic value for characteristics that may include its design, style, era, form, scale, materials, colour, texture, patina of age, quality of space, craftsmanship, smells, and sounds?

        The former Brickworks Wall is an excellent example of brickwork; it is a well built and authentic example of brick wall construction.  

      • Townscape

        Does the item have townscape value for the part it plays in defining a space or street; providing visual interest; its role as a landmark; or the contribution it makes to the character and sense of place of Wellington?

        The former Brickworks Wall is locally significant and well known for its association with the former brickworks; it is a distinctive element of the streetscape and is situated on one of the suburb’s busiest thoroughfares. 

    • Historic Value close
      • Association

        Is the item associated with an important person, group, or organisation?

        This low brick wall, found at the foot of the hill alongside Ira Street, is the only physical remnant of the brickworks that once occupied this part of Miramar. The wall is all that is now left of the Gasco (later Amalgamated Brick and Pipe Co.) brickworks was a significant local industrial plant that produced bricks, pipes, and chimney pots, provided employment for many local people and provided materials for Wellington’s construction and drain laying industries. 

    • Scientific Value close
      • Archaeological

        Does the item have archaeological value for its ability to provide scientific information about past human activity?

        The risk of accidental discovery is unknown, but it is likely that there will be industrial archaeology associated with the site present in the area.

      • Educational

        Does the item have educational value for what it can demonstrate about aspects of the past?

        As there is little other evidence present of the brickworks history of the area, the former brickworks wall offers considerable opportunity for interpretation, so has significant educational value. 

      • Technological

        Does the item have technological value for its innovative or important construction methods or use of materials?

        There is technical value in this as a well built, authentic, example of a brick wall. It remains in good and serviceable condition. 

    • Social Value close
      • Identity - Sense of Place - Continuity

        Is the item a focus of community, regional, or national identity? Does the item contribute to sense of place or continuity?

        The former brickworks wall contributes to a sense of place and continuity in Miramar as it is the only remnant of the former brickworks and a physical reminder of the hey-day of brick making in Wellington. 

    • Level of Cultural Heritage Significance close
      • Rare

        Is the item rare, unique, unusual, seminal, influential, or outstanding?

        As the bricks that this wall is built of came from the former brickworks, they have some rarity value as the only remnant of the works left in the area. 

      • Representative

        Is the item a good example of the class it represents?

        It is in good condition with no significant cracking or subsidence and has value as a well built and representative example of brick wall construction.      

      • Importance

        Is the item important at a local, regional, national, or international level?

        This brick wall is of local significance; while rather unassuming, it is an authentic and physical link to the history of the area and the only remnant of Miramar’s brick making past. It has aesthetic, historic, educational, technical, and social values.   

      • Authentic

        Does the item have authenticity or integrity because it retains significant fabric from the time of its construction or from later periods when important additions or modifications were carried out?

        Although part of the wall has been demolished, it retains significant original materials and has had few alterations made. It has authenticity of materials, craftsmanship, and design.  

    • Local / Regional / National / International Importance close

      Not assessed

  • close Site Detail
    • District Plan Number

      7/59

    • Legal Description

      Sec 1 SO 32335

    • Heritage New Zealand Listed

      Not listed

    • Archaeological Site

      Risk unknown – possible industrial archaeology associated with site

    • Current Uses

      unknown

    • Former Uses

      unknown

    • Has building been funded

      No

    • Funding Amount

      Not applicable

    • Earthquake Prone Status

      Unknown

  • close Additional Information

Last updated: 10/4/2017 12:41:53 AM