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Bricks and Construction Materials During the Reign of Edward VII

The reign of Edward VII, from 1901 to 1910, marked the end of the Victorian era and the beginning of the Edwardian period in the UK. This was a time of transition in architectural styles and construction materials, influenced by societal changes, technological advancements, and the King’s own preferences.

Population and Living Conditions

In 1901, the population of the UK was approximately 38 million. The majority of people lived in urban areas, owing to the Industrial Revolution, which had brought about a significant shift from rural to urban living. Life was characterized by stark contrasts, with wealth and poverty existing side by side, and the standard of living varied significantly depending on one's social class.

Types of Dwelling and Construction Materials

Most of the urban population lived in terraced houses, which were primarily made from bricks. These were often locally made, and the nature of the clay used influenced the color and texture of the bricks, resulting in a variety of hues from yellow to red to blue.

The Edwardian period also saw the introduction of more "modern" materials such as steel and concrete in construction, but these were primarily used in larger, public and commercial buildings rather than in typical homes. The terraced houses of the time often featured ornamental brickwork, reflecting the Edwardian love for decorative details.

During the reign of Edward VII, spanning from 1901 to 1910, the prevailing architecture saw the transition from the Victorian to the Edwardian style. This was an era noted for its more liberal use of architectural detailing, departing from the heavily ornamented Victorian style.

As the industrial revolution had firmly taken root, cities and towns expanded, resulting in the majority of the population residing in urban areas. The most common type of dwelling during this period was the terraced house, a trend which was carried over from the Victorian era. These homes were characterized by their uniform facades creating a continuous line of residences along the street.

The primary construction material for these dwellings was brick, widely used due to its durability and versatility. The bricks were commonly locally produced, with the colour and texture depending on the clay available in the specific region. This resulted in a wide spectrum of brick colours, including various hues of yellow, red, and blue.

The Edwardian period also embraced ornamental brickwork, with bricks often laid in decorative patterns or distinctive bond styles to create visually appealing facades. Features such as cornices, string courses, and decorative panels were common, adding to the charm and character of Edwardian architecture.

During this era, the introduction and increased use of more 'modern' materials such as steel and concrete were also seen. However, these were predominantly utilized in larger, public, and commercial buildings rather than in the average home. The use of steel, in particular, allowed for the creation of larger and more open spaces in building design, a characteristic feature of Edwardian commercial and public architecture.

Residential architecture also experienced changes, with the 'garden city' movement gaining popularity. This urban planning concept combined the benefits of the city and the countryside, creating self-contained communities surrounded by greenbelts. Suburban semi-detached and detached houses often came with gardens and were constructed using local bricks, embodying this ideal.

Overall, the reign of Edward VII was a period of transition and growth in the use of bricks and other construction materials, leading to distinctive architectural styles and building techniques.

Notable Buildings Constructed

Notable buildings from the Edwardian period include the iconic Selfridges department store on Oxford Street in London. While it featured a façade made of stone, brick was used extensively in the internal structures of the building.

Notable Engineering Achievements

The period was also notable for significant engineering achievements. While no single engineer stands out during Edward VII's reign, the era did see the growing use of steel framing in construction, which allowed for the creation of larger and more open spaces in buildings.

Interesting Facts

One of the notable features of Edwardian architecture was the 'garden city' movement. This was an urban planning concept that sought to combine the benefits of the city and the countryside by creating self-contained communities surrounded by greenbelts. This ideal was reflected in the semi-detached and detached houses in the suburbs, which often had gardens and were built using local bricks.