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Willaston Brickworks

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Town or Locality: Willaston
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Bright & Weaver Brick Kiln, Paxton Street

Messers. Bright and Weaver began the business in 1866. With the death of Bright in 1895, Weaver continued operating the brick works. With his death in 1899, his son William then carried on with the business.

The Bunyip published a sad tale on August 16th 1912 about the pitfalls of brickworks and small children- “A sad burning accident occurred at Willaston on Monday afternoon. Thelma Weaver, the eight year old daughter of Mr. W. Weaver, brick maker, had returned home from school and was sitting on some old bricks close to the kiln, which was alight. A strong gust of wind blew the flames out of one of the furnace doors and set the little girl’s dress on fire. A younger brother tried to extinguish the flames and the little girl ran into her mother’s house where Mrs. McEwin put the fire out. By this time the dress had been literally burnt off the unfortunate child, only the cuffs of the sleeves remaining. The sufferer was burnt from head to foot. Dr. Mark Dawes was passing at the time and the little one received instant attention, but her injuries were so severe that there was no hope of recovery. Dr. Henry Dawes and District Nurse Evan were also in attendance and did all that was possible until death ensued at midnight”.

Mr. Weaver was also the licensee of the Willaston Hotel, by the Willaston Bridge, from 1911 to 1912. Leaving the hotel, he went back to operating the brick kiln. Around 1926 the kiln was taken over by Messers. Elliot and Cliff Goodger and eventually closed down around 1940. Their father was a Mr. William Goodger who was born in October 28, 1865. He married Susan Adams Pederick in 1889 at Lewiston and then lived on a property at Ward’s Belt. In 1920 he purchased the Wilcox building in Murray Street Gawler and then in 1926 he purchased these brick works.

It has been stated that after closing, the pug-hole was used as a rubbish dump being filled with anything from cans to a car body. There are now private homes built on this land.

Rawlings Brick Kiln, Paxton Street- also known as Todd’s Brick Kiln

The Rawlings brick kiln was operated by Mr. Alf Todd. It was built to burn wood; however in 1926 a decision was made to convert the kiln to burn crude oil. A Mr. Jock Purdey was brought out from England to manage the conversion. Unfortunately, nothing ran smoothly as apparently the oil did not burn correctly, resulting in soot falling on the washing of nearby residents. It was eventually converted back into a burn-only wood kiln.

In December 1937, a cyclone swept through Willaston, causing great damage to these brick works. As reported in the Bunyip on the 17th December 1937 “A Burst of Furious Wind”- “At Willaston the storm came as a cyclone, being preceded by a column of dust which was impenetrable. The wind howled in fury and at Mr. Alf Todd’s brick yards....wrought much damage. Mr. Todd with two assistants had stopped work to enjoy a cup of tea and they were seated in a shed abutting the kiln. Suddenly the shed began to heave, the roof and framework went hurtling skywards.”

They took refuge in the kiln. The wind wrecked an acre of drying sheds and after the wind had passed through more than two-thirds of the building was in ruins, or scattered over the landscape for hundreds of yards. The thousands of bricks stacked in the drying sheds were exposed to the torrential downpour and made useless for firing. The electric supply and telephone services were severed. It was reported that all this damage occurred in about five minutes. The Bunyip concluded that, unusually, this storm was not accompanied by either thunder or lightning; however, the rain was impressive with Gawler receiving 95 points and Willaston 110 points for the day.

In the 1940s the brick works were purchased by the Hallett Brick Industries Limited Group and in 1949 they erected another kiln. The chimney was reported to be 43 feet high and 100,000 bricks were used in its construction.

On 16th September 1970 these brickworks were bought by the Gawler Corporation, with the pug-hole area used as a rubbish dump. The rubbish dump closed as such in 1989 with rubbish tipped into bins and transported away. The refuse dump on Paxton Street closed to ratepayers in 2013.

Please click here to see photos of Willaston's Brick Kilns.

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