*Pic: Bricklaying and how to set the standard. A variation on Flemish Bond tuck pointed with half bricks in Launceston.

On a lighter note, this tuck-pointed brickwork executed by J &T Gunn on a building in Launceston is as good as it gets. (Image 1)

Many of the buildings on the Duke of Bedford’s Bloomsbury estate in Central London also exhibit a similar quality of notable brickwork. Another fine example of tuck-pointing is No 10 Downing Street, the residence of British Prime Ministers. (Images 3 and 4)

Pressed bricks are required to give the sharp sides (or arrises) which, when tuck-pointed with a little mortar, are visually straight and true. The black colour is not due to pollutants but the use of fire grate coal and wood ash from a then open-fired London as heated by the hard work of maids burnishing the steel grates which they cleaned each morning. This waste was specially collected and then mixed with the yellow London clay as a binder to produce this wonderful colour.

The two Gunn brothers, by trade bricklayers from Caithness, are using the same variation on Flemish Bond (Image 2) with two half-bricks as a demonstration of skill and decoration. The vertical edge lines of the bricks in each course are laid plumb line straight, with the horizontal mortar being as thin as practical to secure strength.

Gunns had its own brick pits pressing its own bricks in Launceston to give them the required arris for laying bricks to this standard.

The question I ask the observant reader is to name the building and if possible, nominate a finer example of the bricklayers’ craft in Tasmania … ?

English Bond Stretcher Bond and Flemish bond.

No. 10 Downing Street, tuck pointed, Flemish Bond, also using the same half brick variation the black bricks used for visual contrast.


*John Hawkins was born and educated in England. He has lived in Tasmania for 13 years. He is the author of “Australian Silver 1800–1900” and “Thomas Cole and Victorian Clockmaking” and “The Hawkins Zoomorphic Collection” as well as “The Al Tajir Collection of Silver and Gold” and nearly 100 articles on the Australian Decorative Arts. He is a Past President and Life Member of The Australian Art & Antique Dealers Association. John has lived in Australia for 50 years and is 75 this year. In two of the world’s longest endurance marathons and in the only teams to ever complete these two events, he drove his four-in-hand team from Melbourne to Sydney in 1985 and from Sydney to Brisbane in 1988.