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Plaque in the Memorial Wall at Queenscliff, 2015. Photograph: Clare Gervasoni

Selkirks manufacture bricks and pavers.



In 1883, Robert Selkirk II, a scottish immigrant, identified the need for materials in the post gold rush building boom in Ballarat. He began making bricks by hand and firing them in a traditional square kiln at De Murza paddock in Allendale. By 1893 transporting the bricks to Ballarat, the main area of supply, became problematic. Recognizing this, Robert moved production to Heinz's paddock on Howitt Street were the plant still operates today. This site was ideally located to the companies main market, and was adjacent to the train line which could offer transport around Victoria.[1]


Selkirk bricks traces its origins back to 1854, when Robert Selkirk I and his family migrated to Australia from Scotland. In 1883, Robert Selkirk II started to make clay bricks by hand at Allendale, in response to the building boom resulting from the Ballarat gold rush. He subsequently acquired brickmaking equipment and, in 1900, moved to a large site in Howitt Street, Ballarat, where the company remains based today. Continuous kilns were introduced in 1905, and the business thrived. After Robert Selkirk II's death in 1921, it was taken over by his son James Selkirk, and then after James’ sudden death, by his own two sons, Ronald Selkirk II and William Selkirk (1913-1991). An elder sister, Sylvia Edith Selkirk (1911-2005), married in 1935 and does not appear to have been directly involved in the family business.[2]

Ronald Selkirk fought in the Second World War, serving with the Royal Australian Engineers (1940-42) and then with the 1667 Conversion Unit of the RAAF (1942-45). The Selkirk brickworks in Ballarat, which ceased production in 1943 due to the war, re-opened in 1945 and business was soon booming again. The existing Hoffman kilns were refurbished in 1947, additional equipment installed, and the clay pit gradually enlarged. In 1955, the company introduced brick packaging and in 1962, the first tunnel kilns in Australia.[3]


Se Murza Paddock, Allendale

Heinz's Paddock, Howitt Street, Ballarat. [4]


The Selkirk tunnel kilns were the first in Australia, and possibly the world, be fired by butane.[5]

Community Involvement

Works Produced

Workplace Relations

The People

In 1989 the Courer employed over 100 people. [6] In 1996 they employed around 115 people. [7]


See also

Recommended Reading


  1. Haughton, N. A. (1983). Century of Country Clay: Selkirk, The First 100 Years 1883 – 1983. Ballarat: Selkirk Brick. [Print].
  2. Research by Leigh Miller published at, accessed 29 September 2015.
  3. Research by Leigh Miller published at, accessed 29 September 2015.
  4. Research by Leigh Miller published at, accessed 29 September 2015.
  5. Research by Leigh Miller published at, accessed 29 September 2015.
  6. Ballarat School of Mines Institutional Plan, 1989.
  7. Henshall Hansen Associates. (1996). Ballarat Economic Profile. Ballarat: City of Ballarat.

Further Reading

External Links

--Dominic Williams 10:48, 16 May 2012 (EST); --Clare K.Gervasoni 23:56, 29 September 2015 (AEST)

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