What are clinker bricks?


Reid Dickie

I had never heard of clinker bricks until I visited my cousin in Edmonton this summer. She showed me a church that is partially constructed of clinker bricks. What are clinker bricks, you ask?

When fired in early brick kilns, the surface of bricks that were too close to the fire changed into volcanic textures and darker, EDMONTON 138often purplish colors. Typically they were discarded but around 1900, these bricks were discovered to be usable and distinctive in architectural detailing, adding a charming earthy quality to buildings. The hardened residue of coal fires is called clinker, thus these mutant bricks found a name. In Europe, it is spelled klinker


Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Edmonton was built in 1913 using the distinctive clinker brick adding a rich tapestry to the Gothic design. Rather than the usual conformity of bricks, each clinker brickEDMONTON 129 is unique, its shape and colour determined by its nearness to the fire. This church, celebrating its first century this year, aptly demonstrates the techniques used in combining ordinary smooth bricks with fused irregular clinkers.

Once the charm of clinker bricks was recognized, it was often used on the stylish homes of the exceedingly wealthy. Edmonton still has a few upscale houses that were built using clinkers.





Filed under Architecture, Churches, Heritage Buildings

4 responses to “What are clinker bricks?

  1. brianfergusonwpg

    that’s different!

  2. The rector at the time of construction of Holy Trinity Anglican specifically chose clinker brick based on Psalm 118

    • Thanks Church Guy

      Psalm 118
      1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
      his love endures forever.
      2 Let Israel say:
      “His love endures forever.”
      3 Let the house of Aaron say:
      “His love endures forever.”
      4 Let those who fear the Lord say:
      “His love endures forever.”
      5 When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
      he brought me into a spacious place.
      6 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
      What can mere mortals do to me?
      7 The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
      I look in triumph on my enemies.
      8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
      than to trust in humans.
      9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
      than to trust in princes.
      10 All the nations surrounded me,
      but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
      11 They surrounded me on every side,
      but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
      12 They swarmed around me like bees,
      but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
      in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
      13 I was pushed back and about to fall,
      but the Lord helped me.
      14 The Lord is my strength and my defense[a];
      he has become my salvation.
      15 Shouts of joy and victory
      resound in the tents of the righteous:
      “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
      16 The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
      the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
      17 I will not die but live,
      and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
      18 The Lord has chastened me severely,
      but he has not given me over to death.
      19 Open for me the gates of the righteous;
      I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
      20 This is the gate of the Lord
      through which the righteous may enter.
      21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
      you have become my salvation.
      22 The stone the builders rejected
      has become the cornerstone;
      23 the Lord has done this,
      and it is marvelous in our eyes.
      24 The Lord has done it this very day;
      let us rejoice today and be glad.
      25 Lord, save us!
      Lord, grant us success!
      26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
      From the house of the Lord we bless you.[b]
      27 The Lord is God,
      and he has made his light shine on us.
      With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
      up[c] to the horns of the altar.
      28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
      you are my God, and I will exalt you.
      29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
      his love endures forever.

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