Claypits, which primarily produce materials for construction, are often located on the urban fringe – situated to take advantage of cheap land and outside of the stricter regulatory context of town planning boundaries but close enough to efficiently service their market. In Melbourne, the fringe location of claypits has frequently brought them into overlap with the expanding urban growth boundary in both historic and contemporary contexts. This paper follows the urban fringe of Melbourne in a northerly direction over time, studying the brick industry and its influence on the urban fabric which ultimately surrounds it. Focusing on three case studies at Brunswick, Preston and Wollert in Melbourne’s north, the paper maps the location of brick factories and claypits in these suburbs and follows the development of these sites over time. A particular focus is on documenting the contemporary use of ex-claypit sites to find patterns of post-industrial use at different time periods. The paper shows that in an historic setting, claypit sites are often repurposed for public functions - in some suburbs they account for the majority of open space. In a contemporary setting however, increased land values on the urban fringe have disrupted this pattern of public re-use. The extraction of new claypits is managed and limited in order to support their future transformation into housing estates. The conclusions shows the role that urban fringe claypits have traditionally played in shaping urban form and public space, and highlights the potential differences in newer suburbs as claypit sites remains in private use.
The authors 2018
Proceedings of the 14th Australasian Urban History Planning History Conference 2018