The renovation money never goes on the pretty things … fixing the kitchen wall part 1

Posted on Sun, 29 Jul 2018 by midcenturyjo

You may remember that when we demolished the kitchen cabinets there was a nasty surprise waiting for us. The brick wall on our zero boundary line was bowing into the kitchen by a good 10 cm and was in imminent risk of collapse. It had to be fixed before we could proceed with the new kitchen. After checking with a few local builders who came up with novel is not dodgy ways of fixing said wall we finally turned to Queensland’s only heritage brick masons Maurice Potrzeba. Their projects include the Old Queensland Museum, the Ipswich Railway Workshops, The Mansions in George St,  Brisbane City, Saint Brigid’s in Red Hill, St Helena Island … you get the idea. It may not have been cheap but the result was incredible as was the chance to watch these heritage masons work. Along the wall there were some wonderful surprises. I documented it at the time on my Instagram Stories and I keep it archived in the highlights there but of course I need to share it here as well.

First thing they did was cut a groove along the mortar line one course of bricks above where they were going to work. The brick masons inserted a twisted stainless steel wire (more like a rod and I don’t know what it’s technical name is so don’t ask 🙂 They then glue it in finishing it to look like a mortar line. It was to act as a lintel to hold the upper bricks in place while they removed the ones below.

A few days later the repair work began. The bricks came out easily with just gentle persuasion here and there. Imagine our delight when we realised that all the old bricks bore an Ipswich frog! (A frog is is the indentation in a brick, normally where the makers name is stamped.) What a wonderful piece of history. I had seen an Ipswich frog before but never hundreds of them. Maurie said he had obviously seen Ipswich frogs before but he hadn’t seed a pattern quite like this. The size and the composition of the bricks also suggested that these were 1860’s brick he believed.

The brick masons worked in pairs for three days. Each day they tackled a third of the wall taking down first the inside then the outside walls for about a metre or so before rebuilding the outside up so high then the inside to match.


At the end of the first day it was obvious that the old wall was way out of plumb as you can see in the photos below. Wait till you see the day 2 photos. OMG!