History Overview

Brickworks Limited has a long and unbroken history that stretches back to 1934. In that year a group of Sydney’s leading manufacturers formed Brickworks, which then progressively acquired the shares of its major investors. The aim was to rationalise production and ensure the ongoing viability of the industry at a time when the brick and tile industry was in crisis due to the Great Depression. The creation of a new market player positioned the company for rapid growth and technological innovation following the end of the Second World War in 1945.

Behind this radical initiative was the dynamic and forceful William King Dawes, general manager of the highly successful Austral Brick Company Pty Limited. Through hard work, business acumen and a determination to succeed, Dawes won the respect of the industry. It was not long before Brickworks and its flagship company, Austral Bricks, became the largest producer and industry leader in Sydney, as well as the most profitable. Unlike other brick manufacturers of the day, Dawes had a profound impact on Australia’s brick and clay products industry up until his death in 1981.

In early 1959 William Dawes purchased the former state brickworks at Rochedale in Brisbane and rapidly built up Brickworks’ presence in the Queensland market. Land was also acquired at Horsley Park in Sydney’s west where modern plants were established. These eventually replaced the inner city yards at St Peters, Ashfield and Burwood.

In 1961 Brickworks listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and continued to expand. Millions of pounds were invested in new factories on Wallgrove Road at Horsley Park which used the latest clay extrusion technology and tunnel kilns. Millions of texture bricks were produced to supply Sydney’s apartment building boom, reaping considerable profits for the publicly listed company.

Determined to protect the company from hostile takeover, Dawes sought out firms that might consider a share swap arrangement and also had a similar market capitalisation. In 1969 Brickworks and the investment group, Washington H. Soul Pattinson (WHSP), entered into a cross holding that has been one of the most successful in Australia’s corporate history. It continues to remain the bedrock of the relationship between the two organisations and has allowed the respective companies to grow and prosper.

The last decade has seen Brickworks achieve rapid expansion. Our commitment to sustainable development considers the impact of our operations on the natural environment. We strive to reflect prevailing social values and constantly adjust to changing economic circumstances at home and abroad.

Organic growth and strategic acquisitions have transformed the organisation from being a manufacturer of mainly bricks into a producer of building products. Diversification commenced in 2001 when it purchased shares in Bristile Limited, a manufacturer of brick, pavers and roof tiles located in Western Australia. By 2003 the company had purchased Bristile outright. Also in 2001 Brickworks acquired Bowral Bricks, a local manufacturer of dry press bricks specially suited to the requirements of architects and prestige building projects. This enabled it to close the last of its dry press brick plants in Sydney at Eastwood.

In 2001 Brickworks entered into an agreement with Collex to manage waste disposal at surplus land on one of its Horsley Park sites. In December 2003, the company formed an agreement with Macquarie Goodman Industrial Trust to develop 150 hectares of land as a large industrial and business estate at Eastern Creek. The site is adjacent to the intersection of the M4 Motorway and the Westlink M7 and was completed in 2006. Then in 2005 the company purchased Auswest Timbers, a major timber producer in Western Australia. In recent years Brickworks has added substantially to its range of building products, especially in Queensland, by acquiring firms that manufacture masonry and concrete blocks. The creation of Austral Precast in 2011 has made Brickworks Building Products division Australia’s largest producer of precast concrete panels. More recently, Austral Masonry acquired a masonry production plant from Boral Ltd, adding to the companies operating under the Austral Masonry brand.

Brickworks Limited is committed to remaining both the industry pacesetter and provider of a wide range of building products offering choice to its customers.