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23 - Armadale Brickworks Quarry

Armadale Brickworks Quarry

The Armadale Brickworks was established by Thomas Coombe in 1902, with the nearby quarry being used to mine shale. The machine pressed bricks were some of the first in Western Australia to use shale to make them and output at the brickworks site was “greater than any other WA brickworks in the early 20th century”.

In a single day, more than 50,000 bricks would be made using high speed single and double presses before drying was done in the kiln. Previous methods utilised hand moulding from locally sourced clay and drying in the sun, an obvious time-consuming method that limited manufacturing outputs.

Sand was obtained for the kiln from the site of the old St John Ambulance Hall on Coombe Avenue, where a new Dale Cottages redevelopment is currently being constructed. Coombe Avenue is named after Thomas Coombe, the derivation somewhat obvious.

As the quarry became deeper, a tunnel was cut out at the west end for rail carts loaded with shale could be transported to the brickworks at the bottom of the hill, using a cable system. A 2002 rock fall collapsed the quarry entrance of the tunnel.

The quarry ceased operations in 1929.

In 1979, the quarry was seen to have significant geology value, as identified by the Geological Society of Australia (WA).

The owners in 1990 sought to fill the quarry, seeing it as a risk to nearby residential developments. Thankfully this didn't happen and the City of Armadale took over the quarry in 1995. They made it available to the public but closed it in 1999 due to safety concerns.

The Heritage Council listed the quarry on the State Register in 2007, limiting options for the City of Armadale. Some 15 years later, the option relied on is obviously neglected or at the very least, nothing is being done with this historic site.

Thomas Coombe - Pressed brick from Armadale Brickworks

November 2022

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