Coronation Brick and Tile

Syd Oram asked for information on several Durban topics. In order to “thin the herd” as such I am going to put the Coronation Brick and Tile topic as a separate post as that company goes back many years in Durban’s history.  I really do not know much about Coronation Brick and Tile save to say that the Company Offices where alongside North Coast Road in the early 60s. It also was a source for employment for many school leavers as I recall quite a few of my friends started their working careers there. The other thing I remember from the 60s/70s were the Coronation Brick Trucks which were large tippers. Bricks were sold by the truckfull and at the depot they were merely loaded as they came. On delivery the truck merely tipped the load on your property and the first thing that had to be done was to barrow the bricks to the build site. Broken and half bricks were part of the deal and one merely had to accept that. It was only in the late 80s that pallets of bricks shrink wrapped in plastic and hoisted off the trucks, replaced the ‘dumping” of orders.

But to get back to what Syd asked. I have in my possession what must be quite collectable, a 1930’s catalogue of Coronation Brick and Tile products. This catalogue belonged to my late father in law Arch Black. He had always wanted to study architecture but the war intervened. The range of brick products that were once available is amazing. There was one caveat though;  you could have any colour as long as it was red. Blue bricks were available but only on special order. The first pages of the catalogue give a bit of the history as well as pictures of the various works. Dates are given as 1905 and 1928. I attach these as pictures.   CLICK on pictures to enlarge.coro1coro3coro2coro4coro5The catalogue also shows some pictures of some building in Durban and other centres in South Africa where Coronation products were used. The picture below shows the Plaza Hotel (indicated as being in Grey Street) but now in Broad Street. Grey Street used to run all the way down to the Victoria Embankment. The picture shows the Plaza as it was originally and no doubt was added to in later years.coro6

Note that at the time the catalogue was produced the telephone numbers in Durban only had 4 digits.  The 5 digit numbers were introduced round about the early 1930s.





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33 Responses

  1. gerald
    | Reply

    I was wondering if any one had any information on why the name Coronation was chosen for the brickworks. I can only assume that Natal being very loyal to the British Crown, the coronation of Edward the Seventh in 1902 had some link to the name. Victoria had died in 1901 but the coronation of her son was not immediate. Another memory of Coronation bricks is that in the frog the name “Coronation” was imprinted in a cursive writing.
    I looked up Coronation Brick and Tile in the 1938 directory and by then they had left Salisbury House as their head office and moved to 212 Sydney Road. This was between Dalton Road and MacDonald Road. No 1 Works is listed as Greenwood Park and No 2 Works as Redhill. There is no mention of Umgeni. In 1968, The Head office and No. 1 Works is given as 397 North Coast Road Briardene. No. 2 Works is given as Redhill , No. 4 Works as Effingham and No. 5 Works as Avoca. Another Works is listed as Pietermaritzburg which was located where the Liberty Mall now stands along the N2 highway. The Head Office Building was a multistorey building facing North Coast Road and in the same location was the Sales outlet where bricks etc. were ordered by the public. I am not sure why the Works in North Coast Road were closed down but I have an idea that brick making was transferred to Eston and Empangeni. It was also at this time that brick agents appeared with small yards selling Coronation products. Bricks were now palletized and handled with care so to speak as compared to the 60s/70s method. Transport as well was outsourced and the Coronation Brick truck more or less disappeared. The Pietermaritzburg Yard was closed and cleared in the mid 1990s.

    • Storm Ferguson

      Gerald! You are amazing! Again thank you!
      The Storms originally started in Clairwood under the name Storm Brothers, they moved to Briardene when they changed the name to Coronation Brick and Tile, my grandmother told me it was because of the Coronation. We have some picture of the family visiting the various works in the early 1920’s and beyond.
      I have never seen the catalogue which is posted before, how amazing!
      Wow! Thanks again!

    • Andre Ross

      Gerald…I grew up as a boy OPPOSITE the yard in Pietermaritzburg. My dad worked there for a while…I am going to visit soon from the United States and was wondering if you knew what that address was…There was a small swampy area between our house and the Coronation yard (don’t know if there was more than one yard) this was around the late 1960’s. Any idea? I will certainly appreciate that! Of course there are no photographs I can find and got excited when I saw the photo’s on here but that was in Durban.

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      Hi Andre
      The Pietermaritzburg Coronation Brickyard is now no longer. The land was sold off and the brickyard done away with. If I remember correctly Corobrik as Coronation became to be known started to cut back on being the only distributor. Rather whilst still making bricks it supplied to agents instead who had their own yards. Corobrik also stopped their delivery so the once vast transport section they had disappeared. Agents would hire transport as and when they required it so the cost of fleet maintenance fell away. The Pietermaritzburg Brick Yard was completely flattened and cleared. The large area it was, was used to build Pietermaritzburg’s first big shopping mall, called Liberty Mall. This must have been around 2002. I recall going to the brickyard to purchase bricks roughly 1999 and the yard was in the throes of closing down then. I think if you Google Liberty Mall Pietermaritzburg you will get all the directions you will need. I hope this helps.

  2. William Paterson
    | Reply

    During the second world war many Coronation lorries were powered by steam.
    Black building site workers were often seen throwing up bricks to a catcher on the next level during construction. Wonderful to watch. I think ‘Redhill’ got its name from the red clay on the site?

  3. Rodney Coyne
    | Reply

    I seem to recall that I was told by my mother that the brickworks acquired the name ‘Coronation’ on the occasion of a British coronation some time between the two World Wars. Incidentally, Pietermaritzburg has a Coronation Road in Scottsville which was being developed at about the same time – jingoism was alive and well in the former British colony of Natal in that era. I had thought that I would easily get some confirmation from the Internet, but no such luck. Gerald had probably already tried doing that. One minor point of interest that I came across was on the website which mentions that the architects of the office block of the Coronation Brickworks at Briardene were Powers and Powers, in 1938. These were the same architects responsible for the Metro Cinema (1936) and, I think, The Playhouse.

  4. margaret
    | Reply

    I have a small paperweight “brick”. Glazed in a green brown colour. The name Coronation is seen on the top indentation of the “brick”. Was this from the Coronation
    Brick Factory and when? Any answers?

    • Storm Ferguson

      Hi Margaret
      I also have two of those sample bricks, one with a green glaze which my late grandmother, only daughter of W.F.Storm always had on her desk and a brown / ochre glazed mini brick which I came across some years ago. They were, according to my grand mother a marketing tool to show the new glazing techniques.
      I think these were produced in the 60’s but stand to be corrected. My grandmothers cousin, somewhat younger than my grandmother is still alive, her father was Arthur Storm and was also involved in Coronation, I will ask her and let you know.
      Kind regards
      Storm Ferguson (my grand mother named my father Storm to keep the name going, there were no male Storm offspring to keep the family name alive)

    • D Reddy

      Reference Margaret’s posting dated 15March and the response from Storm Ferguson dated 30December.

      I am interested to establish contact with Storm Ferguson – if his fathers name is also Storm, fathers sister is Gillian and grandmother Leslie, I would like to contact Storm.

      Thanks and Regards
      Danny Reddy

  5. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Margaret,
    I have seen those “mini brick” paperweights. As far as I know they were made by Coronation as samples. I seem to remember in the early 50s there was a craze on the go collecting “samples”. There was no definite scale but I do remember you could get samples of Lever Brother’s products Sunlight Soap and LUX were a couple, tooth pastes the one I remember being Kolynos, small crates of Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola, and so on. I also recall liquor bottles as samples were available. Any one remember this?

    • Rodney Coyne

      I remember the mini soap and toothpaste. Another popular mini was the mini Croxley writing pad that goes back to the days when people actually used to write and post letters.

  6. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    John Dube’ has sent me a 1960’s photo of a Coronation Brick and Tile lorry delivering a load of bricks. This was the usual way of having your bricks delivered and I recall in the early 1970s when Westville North was being developed, seeing the piles of bricks delivered to the levelled sites all over the suburb. Bricks were relatively cheap in those days so the ones that broke were no big deal normally being used to fill gaps. In the early 1990s when the price of bricks started rising, breakages were no longer tolerated so bricks were palletted and shrink wrapped with plastic and delivered to site on flat bed trucks. Here they were unloaded with specialised loading equipment which the driver of the truck would manipulate from a special seat attached to it. Pallets had 500 bricks per load. The truck in the picture is an AEC Mammoth Major 8 wheeler.
    1960 Coronation Brick Delivery Truck

  7. Jerald Rabie
    | Reply

    When I was a child and growing up in Durban I used to see the coronation steam wagons delivering bricks. I was always fascinated by steam engines. I eventually served my time as a steam locomotive fitter. The reason I am writing this is that I am looking for a photo of one of these wagons.

    • Storm Ferguson

      I may be able to get a picture of one of the Coronation Brick steam trucks for you, my aunt definitely had a picture but she is away at the moment so I can’t find out for you until later in the week.
      Regards Storm

    • Paula Cunnama

      Hi Storm – my apologies for contacting you on a public forum. I too am related (by adoption) to the Storm brothers. I would be very grateful if I could correspond with you regarding Robert Storm and his wife Mary. On leaving Australia, they brought with them my paternal grandmother, Beulah, whom Robert adopted. I have a copy of Robert’s will and other documentation relating to Coronation Brick Works. I would love to tie up some lose ends and perhaps celebrate the contribution the Storm’s made to Durban’s history. My email is

  8. Rob
    | Reply

    I have three Coronation bricks, not quite mini but smaller and thinner than a normal brick. On each the name Coronation appears to have been written by something similar to a piping bag as used for cake icing. Although the way in which it is written is in the same style, one can see that they were all individually done and then baked. any one have any idea on where these came from? These bricks are red clay and seem very old.

  9. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Rob,
    Can you give me the measurements of those bricks. I have an idea they were called Klompjes. These were smaller in size to normal bricks but used extensively in pre WW1 house fireplaces. I have been to several houses in the Glenwood area which are of that era and the fireplaces are made with them. They all seem to be painted a red colour. I have an old Coronation Brick and Tile catalogue and they are listed in there. All Coronation bricks in the past had the name impregnated in the frog.

  10. Rob
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald
    I will attach photograph at soonest,
    Thanks for your reply. I think you might be right iro fireplace as they seem to have soot on them.

  11. Louis Scheepers
    | Reply

    Hi Gerald Have being following your posts wit great interest as I am a Brick collector with 220 bricks in my collection. Your catalog would be of great importance to me. Is there by any chance the possibility that you could save and share the contents electronically with us. Recently last week I discovered and rescued yet a new Coronation specimen for my collection from a dilapidated Point Road Building. My Coronation “named bricks” totaling now 17. this is my own “catalog index” ” of my “Coronations”
    I would love to share a picture of them
    i. Coronation Miniature
    ii. Coronation Small Fire a Red b Blue
    iii. Coronation Medium Fire a. Red b Blue
    iv. Coronation D Over imposed
    v. Coronation M Over imposed
    vi. Coronation M underscore
    vii. Coronation Normal
    viii. Coronation Thin Edge
    ix. Coronation Riffle LLC (Left Low Corner)
    x. Coronation TRC (Top Right Corner)
    xi. Coronation Deep Hollow
    xii. Coronation Double Deep Hollow
    xiii. Coronation Special Form

    • Allan Jackson

      Hi Louis
      Gerald is in the USA and will be away from home for probably a month more. I have emailed him to let him know about your question and I’m sure he’ll be in touch when he gets back.

    • Gerald Buttigieg

      Hi Louis
      I have only now seen your post so I apologise for not replying sooner. That is an interesting “hobby” you have collecting bricks. What I will do is post the pages that actually show the bricks in the catalogue I have. As I said I am no fundi on Coronation history, technology it used or the company itself . The catalogue is quite enlightening as it shows the variety of bricks that were readily available as compared to the limited range available these days. This catalogue was issued in the pre-decimal era so all measurements are inches.
      No pictures of these bricks but the following is stated: ” It would facilitate quotations and matters generally if when referring to Building Bricks, the undermentioned terms be used:- Commons, Picked No2 , Picked No 1, Repressed Facing. Other qualities such as Hard Burned Blue etc particulars on application only.

      In my time I have seen Coronation bricks with the Number “1” and “2” pressed into the frog. From what I gather these were superior commons and preferred usage was for foundations. I am not sure what Repressed Facings are.

      I will scan and post the pictures for you probably this weekend.

  12. Eddie
    | Reply

    Gerald, what were the changes in technology in the Coronation brick work from the early days? Were any changes introduced in the 1960-1970?

  13. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Louis
    As promised here are some pages out of the Coronation Brick Catalogue I have. I am not sure of the date of the catalogue but would reckon it is 1930/40s.
    As you can see the bricks are line drawings and not actual pictures so you will have to put up with that. What is interesting is to see the variety of bricks manufactured in the earlier years, This variety allowed the architects to be artistic in their designs which were carried out by the bricklayers who were specialised artisans. I have noticed that in Pietermaritzburg you come across some fine examples where these bricks have been used in the construction of the buildings. The City Hall is one example as well as the old Police Barracks in Alexander Street and the Old Natal Education Dept. complex .
    My late in laws once owned Glen View , a 1910 house at 82 Willowvale Road which was a classic example of houses built in that turn of the century period. It had a mock fireplace similar to the ones shown in the picture. The house still stands albeit altered and added to but I hope the original “mock fireplace” has been left in situ.

    The brick illustrations

    Durban Homes showing the mock fireplaces made of klompjes. Note the decor of the times and the then ever common picture rail.

    Situated on the Victoria Embankment

  14. colleen
    | Reply

    good day to all, please tell me what year coronation brick & tile started
    operating in durban?

  15. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Hi Colleen
    I would say 1901 if you read the notes at the beginning of this post. In 1901 the coronation of Edward VII took place on Jan 22 1901 following the death of Victoria. Natal then was very taken up with British Royalty, and her long reign had a great effect on the British Empire. The coronation of Edward I think at that time would have been an incentive to name the brickworks, Coronation.

  16. Richard Holmes
    | Reply

    Gerald – Ed VII was crowned in August 1902. He acceded to the throne on 22 January 1901 on the death of Victoria

  17. colleen
    | Reply

    thanks for the reply guys, reason for asking is my family way back in the dark ages owned a brick & tile co. and from reports sold to the coronation boys, and i am not sure which year? at present i am doing a family tree so i am trying to tie up a few ends.

    • colleen

      Ann Louise is very close, all I know at this stage is 1864 it was called Brick & Tile and the Till
      brothers were the owners. when they sold it to the ??? new owner it was deff around late 18?? very
      early 1900 and there was a corontion on the go overseas and the new owners named it
      Coronation Brick & Tile but I am going to look further when I get hold of one of my relations

  18. Gerald Buttigieg
    | Reply

    Quite right Richard. 22nd January 1901 was when Edward VII succeeded to the throne. So 1902 would be appropriate.

  19. Anne-Louise
    | Reply

    We are in the process of buying a smallholding near Pietermaritzburg and found a number of old red bricks (perhaps the remains of a house) with the name ‘Coronation’ on them. I have a very good picture of the same brick that I found on the web if anyone is interested, but am not sure how to post it.
    I also found some information regarding Coronation Brick & Tile here:
    It seems that Coronation/Corobrik had it’s origins in 1898 when the Storm Brothers founded a brick making plant on the Clairwood Flats, Durban, and established the Storm Brothers Brick Works in 1902.
    In 1916 the Storm Brothers amalgamated with the Greenwood Park Brick Co. Limited forming The Coronation Brick and Tile Company Limited. In 1917 they diversified into the manufacture of roof and floor tiles.
    In 1969 the Tongaat Group Limited acquired a controlling interest in the Coronation Group and Coronation Industrials was formed.
    In 1977 Coronation Brick and Tile was renamed Corobrik and the Corobrik brand was launched.

  20. Karl Sharpe
    | Reply

    In 1976-1977 at the age of 13/14 years old, I and my friends would walk from Orthman road, through a cemetery and fish in the “lake” next to the Coronation Brickworks at Redhills. I guess this was a claypit. There was a wooden raft on the shore line. I think we caught Blue Gills. I have some memory of suspending a fish on a wire through a grate in the concrete floor above the furness??

  21. no
    | Reply

    good afternoon everyone
    this is very interesting I know that a certain section of my mothers family started up BRICK & TILE in Durban
    They made the roof tile and also Bricks with the letter “R” engraved in it.
    and from what I have been told the Tower of the University has
    been built with them. I will come back and give you the years.
    I also know they lived in Mayville and the house they lived in still stands
    today., and I think it was before the year 1901 because they sold the business to whoever ,either before the coronation or sametime thats how the company name became “Coronation Brick & Tile ” the purchasers like that name. so
    but I will come back with more info.

  22. Danny Reddy
    | Reply

    Thanks for the response. To help narrow down the family history would the following family names resonate?

    Leslie Ferguson- could be either grandmother or great grandmother with two children viz.

    Jillian (maiden name – Ferguson) – husband’s name either Cedric or Sedwick –> from memory, was practising in Law in Durban

    Storm Ferguson – spent short time with SA Navy (sustained a back injury while in service)

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