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Brickfield Chimneys
Makhanda (Grahamstown), Eastern Cape

Type:Brick Kiln


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33°18'35.31" S 26°30'00.39" E Alt: 604m

This group of three substantial facebrick chimneys are a major landmark on the north western side of Grahamstown. Associated with the chimneys are a number of vaulted brickwork kilns.

The Grahamstown Journal carried a letter to the Editor in December 1902, in favour of a new brickfield 'near the West Hill Station', to which evidently there was objection at the time. It is assumed that these chimneys were constructed at this "new brickfield" but this has not yet been confirmed.

O'Meara (1995) notes that 'The tower rearing up in the outback beyond West Hill ... is enough to bring anyone to a halt. A chimney erected in 1902 on a now defunct brickfield, it had its moment of international glory in the 1980s when it featured in The Guinness book of records as the tallest lavatory in the world. Those were the days of "Brickies", a student hot spot in an adjoining barrel-vaulted kiln where the acoustics were mind-blowing and the revels likewise.' The parties still continue, now as trance parties known as 'the Tunnels'.

Hamburger Potteries apparently started on the same site in the 1940's.

In the absence of any definitive description of the brickfield or history of the sequence of construction of the three chimneys, and in order to separately identify them, the chimneys have been described (in the photograph captions) relative to their position on the site i.e.:

  • North Chimney (with three corbels to chimney capital and later steel compression bands)
  • South Chimney (with six corbels to chimney capital and later steel compression bands)
  • West Chimney (with six corbels to chimney capital and light coloured facebrick string-courses at intervals on chimney shaft)

The West chimney also has a 'makeshift' toilet installed within the shaft at ground level - accessed through a door opening made through the brickwork on the south side.


Grahamstown Journal, 1902.
O'Meara, Emily. 1995 "Grahamstown Reflected", Trustees of the Albany Museum, Grahamstown.

Information provided by Liz de Wet of the Cory Library, Rhodes University. Submitted by William MARTINSON 2014)

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.