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The Marklkofen brickworks has produced bricks and tiles for walls, floors and roofs for more than 110 years. It has been owned by the Girnghuber family since 1903..
Marklkofen is in the Vilstal region of Lower Bavaria, Germany. Ever since the Roman era, Lower Bavaria has been a favourite location for brickworks thanks to its outstanding clay and loess loam deposits. Water and wood, the two other raw materials formerly required to produce brick, were also in great supply in Vilstal and the nearby hill country.
Following the construction of the railway from 1870, coal could be transported from the local station and the finished products could be sold in a larger area. For example, even before the First World War, bricks and roof tiles were delivered from Marklkofen to Isartal where there were no brickworks due to the lack of raw materials. Buyers of stones and roof tiles were even found in Munich. After the First World War, major damage had to be repaired: the need for bricks increased. However, the global economic crisis that also followed led to the brick industry teetering on the brink of collapse. The brief construction boom from 1935 – 1940 was followed by more years of war. Both coal and employees were in short supply. Only large factories continued to operate in order to cover the most urgent of requirements. One of these was the company Girnghuber, which mainly delivered its products to Munich at the time. Bombing had damaged the roofs on many houses. To make these inhabitable again, bricks and roof tiles had to be delivered. When an aluminium plant was built in Braunau am Inn in 1939/40, the first hard fired stones were produced in Marklkofen for the smelting furnace.
In parallel to these economic developments, the technology used to produce bricks and tiles has fundamentally changed between the late 19th century and today. At the start of the GIMA history, bricks and tiles were produced seasonally from spring to early autumn using pure manual labour, almost like in the days of the Romans. The steam machine (steam brickworks) followed by the three-phase generator revolutionised brickmaking through the use of mechanisation. Today, almost all bricks and tiles at GIMA are produced completely automatically in a computer-aided process. There are few other industrial areas in which the switch from manual labour to computer-aided operation and the associated concentration on fewer and larger operations occurred as quickly as in the brickmaking sector. The brick, tile and limestone museum in Flintsbach, Lower Bavaria, is sponsored by GIMA and provides a good insight into the historic technology of the brickmaking sector.