He paid 600 thousand crowns for the dilapidated building. Last year, after lengthy negotiations, he managed to buy the land on which he stands from the state. “I say I bought a little house, only it’s a little bigger,” laughs the 45-year-old man today. The brick building has truly impressive dimensions. It is 65 meters long and 17 meters wide. “It is dominated by a 40-meter high chimney. The interesting thing is that they built it all in seven months, which would be a problem even today,” recalls the civil architect by profession.
The roof was key
The building was in a dilapidated condition. The cleanup alone took two years, and the repairs had to start from the roof. “It was flowing in 362 places, which was a problem,” Pour says, surprisingly not exaggerating the number of holes. “I actually had 362 buckets there. It really bothered me, because when the water goes into the roof, it catches the fungus very quickly,” he explains. The gable roof has an area of 1,500 square meters and was repaired after several years.
Pour set up an exposition of brickmaking, crafts and agriculture on several floors. He gradually builds a technical open-air museum in the village with 200 inhabitants. “Before covid, schools used to go here. “Children first walked around with mobile phones in their hands. Then they got a little mud, and when they had to make a brick, they started to enjoy it,” he describes.
The building is unique in that it has been preserved in its entirety. The kiln for firing bricks is sandstone. “It ran until 1962, when it began to be used as a grain dryer. It’s one of the larger brickworks because it has 16 loading holes,” Pour zooms in on the vast building. Another unique item stands next to the brick chimney. A layman would say a wooden elevator made of massive beams. “It is the original trigger from 1926. It works on the principle of self-weight. One cage goes down, the other up. It is one of the three preserved original facilities here,” explains the owner of the brickyard.
How it worked
Coal dust for heating and pre-dried bricks were transported to the first floor via the trigger. “They were made from clay that was mined next door. She kicked it, let it freeze over the winter, and then got wet and went into a machine that I would liken to a large meat grinder. An endless belt then came out of it, which was cut into bricks with a string,” describes the old technology enthusiast. The bricks then dried for half a year. “It had to be done slowly so that microscopic cracks did not form in the bricks, which would then crack during firing. The firing itself at 900 to 1,000 degrees took about one day,” says Martin Pour. Bricks with the embossed inscription Bělohrad, roof tiles and other fittings were produced at the time of the greatest boom, two million per year.
“One enjoys it. Sometimes natives gather here, there are various meetings and events for children, I’m happy about that,” admits Pour, who pays for the reconstruction mainly from his own money. “Sometimes the surrounding villages help me, I am asking for a contribution of three thousand crowns. The only larger subsidy we received was 80,000 for the roof. The village of Šárovcova Lhota also helps as it can. A little is then taken from the voluntary entrance fee,” he calculates the modest income. In the near future, Pour would still like to repair the roofs on the outdoor drying rooms: “It’s almost 400 meters. If we do it ourselves, it will cost around 200,000 crowns,” he calculates. He also plans to modify the electrical installation.
On the last Saturday, he organized a craft fair here, which was attended by hundreds of people from the surrounding area. “The brickyard swallowed a lot of money, after five years I stopped writing it. The roof alone cost a million and a quarter. If I were to add it up, it’s a crazy amount that I can’t even say at home,” laughs Martin Pour. An enthusiast, thanks to which the century-old brick factory is still standing today. At the same time, during the First Republic, the chimney of a brickyard smoked in every larger village, in total there were eight and a half thousand of them in Czechoslovakia at the time.