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The industrial chimney has been the symbol of the Industrial Revolution par excellence. Transcending both regionalism and traditional forms of construction, some specimens found in Spain, dating mainly from the early twentieth century, follow unique schools of construction with regard to the mastery with which the brick is handled. All this was achieved without being endorsed by famous architects; rather they were the product of master masons, skilled in their craft and relishing the opportunity to give to the best of their ability. Currently unimaginable in today's construction climate, their work shows signs of enduring, despite their obsolescence and disappearance of their original function. One of the most beautiful and spectacular types of chimney, whatever cross section it has, is the helical chimney. The paper reviews the origin of these chimneys and illustrates their various types of construction using both historical photographs of lost chimneys and photographs of some spectacular ones that have survived. In an interview with the author, one of the last great chimney builders explained how to erect a helical chimney using the tool he invented for the purpose. The paper ends by noting that heritage legislation in Spain is gradually including industrial heritage and that, in Valencia, industrial brick chimneys of merit, constructed before 1940, are now protected.
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Helical industrial chimneys in Spain
Gracia Lopez Patiño
Department of Architectural Construction, Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain
Abstract
The industrial chimney has been the symbol of the Industrial Revolution par excellence. Transcending both
regionalism and traditional forms of construction, some specimens found in Spain, dating mainly from the early
twentieth century, follow unique schools of construction with regard to the mastery with which the brick is handled.
All this was achieved without being endorsed by famous architects; rather they were the product of master masons,
skilled in their craft and relishing the opportunity to give to the best of their ability. Currently unimaginable in today’s
construction climate, their work shows signs of enduring, despite their obsolescence and disappearance of their
original function. One of the most beautiful and spectacular types of chimney, whatever cross section it has, is the
helical chimney.
The paper reviews the origin of these chimneys and illustrates their various types of construction using both historical
photographs of lost chimneys and photographs of some spectacular ones that have survived. In an interview with the
author, one of the last great chimney builders explained how to erect a helical chimney using the tool he invented for
the purpose. The paper ends by noting that heritage legislation in Spain is gradually including industrial heritage and
that, in Valencia, industrial brick chimneys of merit, constructed before 1940, are now protected.
Keywords
Industrial chimney; helical chimney; industrial heritage; brick; Spain; Valencia; 19th – 20th century.
Introduction
As we saw in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London, the symbol par excellence of the
Industrial Revolution was and remains the industrial chimney. Already in the eighteenth century, mining
for metal ores in the bowels of the earth led to the development of the steam engine to drain the
underground galleries. Gradually that machine drifted into other applications including its use to
evacuate the fumes generated by the combustion process. This move reflected both the emerging
attitudes to healthy living and the need to increase the efficiency of the combustion process. This is why
industrial chimney was born as an evolution of the domestic hearth. At first it was located very close to
the boiler, in the same building, with its walls forming the simplest shaft cross-section that can be
generated with a parallelepiped or cuboidal brick: a rectangle. Over time, and with increasing power of
the machinery, the chimney acquired its independence from the engine house, becoming separated and,
at the same time, increasing its height in order to increase the up-draught and the efficiency of the
chimney. The question of its structural stability and the later development towards the design and
configuration we know today are dealt with below.
The construction and styles of industrial chimneys varied according to the constructional traditions of
the region, the builder’s own preferences, and the prevailing tastes of the time.12Thus, in Britain, there
can be distinguished three completely different areas of industrial application, which each had their own
influence beyond their place of origin. First, we have the county of Cornwall, whose industrial activity
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Gracia Lopez Patiño
was dedicated almost exclusively to mining. The basic building material for the pump houses and the
boiler chimneys was stone, in particular, granite. Thus chimneys were constructed with this material,
either in ashlar or rubble, and finished above in brick. The fireplace had a square base while the chimney
was circular in cross-section. In Lancashire, on the other hand, the fireplace had a circular section and
was constructed entirely in brick. Finally, in Yorkshire, whose industry was dedicated to textiles, the
smoke shaft was usually built of stone, while the shape of the chimney itself was octagonal. From the
mid-nineteenth century, some chimneys were built with an outward appearance that followed the new
taste for the Italianate style, resembling the slender mediaeval towers of Bologna or Tuscany.
From the second half of the nineteenth century treatises on brick construction began to appear in which
industrial chimneys were featured specifically in the colour plates or half-tone illustrations, and came to
serve as a model for the rest of the world.3Notable among these was the first major book on chimney
construction by Robert Rawlinson (1810-98).4There also appeared a number of books on the design and
construction of the chimneys.567For a better understanding of the theme of the paper, and the
specialised language used, the configuration of a chimney will be explained in the following paragraphs.
Configuration of a chimney
In addition to the visible parts of a chimney that are easily
distinguishable, there are other parts which are underground or
invisible. These include the foundations, common to all
construction, and various elements that are particular to this
type of construction, such as the flue pipe.
The foundations were made of masonry and lime in the early
years; concrete was introduced later, first as mass concrete and
later strengthened by the incorporation of reinforcement. As
with any building, the nature of the underlying piles depended
on the characteristics of the ground and could be either piles
with a cap for soft ground, or a solid cube of concrete for more
resistant soils.
In the majority of cases, the flue pipe was situated
underground, although it may also be partly visible. If the
chimney was used in the production of lead, the flue had a
large cross section to allow access for workers to remove the
deposits of lead carbonate on the walls of the flue. For other
uses, and according to the size of the boiler and, hence, the
height of the chimney, the duct was much smaller. Executed
also in brick in the form of a barrel vault, it was usually
constructed after the chimney itself had been completed. Each
chimney might have more than one flue pipe
The key elements of an industrial chimney, from the bottom to
the top of the construction, are as follows. (Fig. 1)
Helical industrial chimneys in Spain
52
Figure 1. General configuration of an industrial chimney.
Chimney factory Aparici, Alcudia de Crespins (Valencia)
(Photo: author)
The Base
Although usually constructed of brick, the base might also have been built in ashlar, or in brick with
ashlar only at the corners, or in brick and ashlar, and even with alternating courses of brick and ashlar.
Having various shapes in plan, the base was typically
between three and five metres high, either straight or
sloping. The thickness of its walls was greater than in the rest
of the structure because it had to bear the full weight of the
chimney. There was also a small podium, a body in which
there was located an opening through which the builders of
the chimney gained access to the inside. It was provided of a
cornice, normally overhanging, which protected the rest of
the base from rainwater. The rare ornament of the base,
effected by means of triangles and rhombic shapes of
highlighted bricks, contrasts with the ever beautiful
ornament of the cornices, which has recesses highlighted by
the brick bond producing interplay of light and shade.
The Shaft
The shaft is the elongated tube through which the smoke and
other products of combustion pass. The diameter of the shaft
usually decreased on the outside at a slope of between 1%
and 3%, although usually in the range 2.0-2.5%. The
thickness of the shaft was reduced by one half a brick width
(12cm) every 4-5m height, thereby reducing the overall
weight of the chimney. (Fig. 2)
The cross section of the shaft in plan evolved in order to
reduce the wind loads acting on the chimney. Initially
chimneys were usually square in plan. To reduce wind
resistance, the number of sides was increased to six or eight
and eventually to a circular section. The octagonal form
became the norm and in Spain there are some hexagonal
examples.
The different parts of the chimney – the base and the shaft –
could be constructed using different types of brick. When the
shaft had a large diameter it could be constructed using
bricks of normal shape (a parallelepiped or cuboid);
alternatively it could be built of curved bricks in order to fit
the curvature of the form. These pieces had the form of a part
of the circular crown/annulus. For a shaft with octagonal
section, the corner pieces were obtained as the intersection of
two cuboid-shaped pieces of different length, forming an
external angle of 135°. The wall between the corner pieces
was made with normal bricks which originally were hand-
made and later, with the introduction of the industrial
processes, were extruded, either solid or perforated with
holes.
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Gracia Lopez Patiño
Figure 2. Cross section of a typical
chimney (Drawing: author)
The decoration of the chimney was essentially created by the colour of the bricks due to composition and
conditions of the firing. When a rotation of the brick courses about the vertical axis of the chimney was
introduced, it was possible to create a helix. In the case of a polygonal section, this would form a helix,
with an angle that rotated. For a circular chimney the helix could be created using moulded or coloured
bricks.
The Crown
The top of the shaft is finished with the crown. This was the most decorated part of the chimney where
the builder was able to show off his skill and flair. First there would usually be one or more rings that
led into the body of the crown and then into a cornice, normally overhanging. The crown finished off
with a narrowing section, formed of several courses of bricks, creating the nozzle from which the hot
gases and smoke were expelled to the atmosphere.
Helical fireplaces in Spain
The present study focuses on industrial chimneys with a helical form found in Spain. (Fig. 3) This
includes both those that achieve their helical appearance using coloured or even painted bricks, and those
that are formed by the brick construction itself as the polygonal section is rotated from one brick course
to the next around the vertical axis of the chimney.
Helical industrial chimneys in Spain
54
Figure 3. Map showing the distribution of helical chimneys in Spain
The Helical appearance
In construction, the brick of each course must interlock with the bricks of the course immediately below.
In circular chimneys, the curved or standard cuboid bricks had a small horizontal displacement and
rotation with respect to the course beneath. This fact was exploited by some builders to paint the brick a
darker red and create a line that passes diagonally along the shaft around its entire perimeter and for the
full height of the chimney. This technique was used in the old chimney of Cobarro´s Industry (1916),
demolished in 1989, in Alcantarilla (in Murcia), that has copies in Hellín (in Albacete) in the Garaulet
brick factory (before 19358) erected by the same Murcian builders, Juan Pacheco Pellicer (b.1858) and
his team. Other builders, directly influenced by these Murcian masters, also used the technique in the
chimneys at the distillery of Aníbal Arenas in Socuéllamos (in Ciudad Real) (1942), constructed by
Pedro Alcañiz (1907-95). With the passage of time, the coloured paint had been lost in this chimney. The
recent restoration of the chimney in 2005, by the wine cooperative Pobla del Duc (in Valencia) (built in
the 1960s) has returned the vivid colour and the helix that José Miñana (b.1932) wanted to show in his
work. (Fig. 4) Rather less prominent than these helices are diagonal crossed lines created using a dark
colour, but not red, in the chimneys of the ceramic factory La Peladera in Segovia (end of 19th century)
(Fig. 5) and the sugar factory of San Joaquin (1884) at Nerja (Malaga). Both belong to the ruins of their
old factories and no restoration has yet been undertaken.
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Gracia Lopez Patiño
Figure 4. Chimney at the Wine Cooperative
Pobla del Duc (Valencia) built by Jose
Miñana in the 1960s (Photo: author)
Figure 5. The Peladera ceramic fireplace, Segovia,
late 19th century. (Photo: author)
The current owner of Trilladora9del Tocaio, in El Palmar de Valencia (Fig. 6) intends to activate the old
abandoned complex where a ten metre high octagonal chimney with a truncated crown, dating from the
beginning of the 20th century, stands, with a helix painted in dark red that survives, despite the passage
Helical industrial chimneys in Spain
56
Figure 6. Chimney of Tocaio´s rice thresher, El Palmar (Valencia) dated in the early 20th century
(Photo: author)
of time. The particular character of this painted
feature was achieved by the addition of vinegar to
the paint, which fixes the colour in the material.
The paint was applied prior to placement of the
brick, by immersing the exposed face of the brick
in a bowl of the treated paint.
In his home town of Mora (in Toledo), the builder
Atilano Millas (1897–1952) used curved moulded
bricks for the circular chimney of the soap works
situated in the current Yegros Street (built in the
1940s) and, later, also at the Francisco Isla winery
in Villarta de San Juan (Ciudad Real, 1952). (Fig. 7)
In both cases, the base, like the shaft, was circular
in plan and used the same moulded bricks to form
small arches that are featured in the wall of the
factory, the cornices in both the base of the
chimney and the crown, both of which are built
upon a serrated course of bricks placed vertically.
The same feature is used to upper course of bricks
in the 360º twisted shaft immediately below the
crown.
The smallest diameter of the shaft in the chimney
at the soap works implies that the action of the
chords in the shaft form an almost Gothic (ogival)
arch, while at the winery it forms a semicircular
arch as in the base of the chimney. While the
chimney of the winery has remained intact in the
original courtyard, the chimney at the soap works
has been integrated into a residential building.
Unidirectional helical twists
When the plan of the chimney shaft is polygonal,
angular corner pieces mark the rotation or twist of
the plane facets about the vertical axis.
Astriking example of a chimney with
unidirectional twist is to be found at an oil factory
in Mora (in Toledo, date not known) built by
Pelegrín Pipas (Fig. 8). The chimney has a square
base, but the form of the shaft cannot be given a
name because each course of bricks is serrated and
rotated, creating a twist of about 35° to the
vertical. (Fig. 9) The crown is also unique, with the
brickwork being used to transform the circular
section into a square which disrupts the
appearance of the top of the nozzle section.
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Gracia Lopez Patiño
Figure 7. Chimney at the Francisco Isla winery,
Villarta de San Juan (Ciudad Real) built by
Atilano Millas in 1952. (Photo: author)
The simplest case corresponds to the square
section. In Spain, only two surviving
examples of this form have so far come to
light. The more significant, because of the
importance of the industrial approach of the
entire textile process development, is the
one at the Colonia Sedó in Esparreguera (in
Barcelona). (Fig. 10) The firm of Miguel
Puig and Co. was established in 1841 in the
basin of the River Llobregat where there were good communications for the supply and distribution of
manufactured products. A new owner Antonio Sedó (1842-1902), whose name was taken by the colony,
began manufacturing once the Cairat canal had been completed, and its first water turbine began
operating in 1881. The 180º helical square-section shaft of the chimney rises 21 metres from the plain,
straight-side base to the crown which also lacks ornament. The ensemble is a forceful contrast of simple
forms. Its construction, dating from before 1899 when it was first shown in a drawing of that date, is
attributed to Amadeu Casals.10
Asimilar chimney built for a distillery at Sant Quintí de Mediona (1946-48) is of smaller diameter and
height (around 12 metres) than the previous example and seems to have a more pronounced twist. (Fig. 11)
This effect is achieved by the beginning of the twist at the foot of the shaft, not found elsewhere and
particularly interesting since it is so reminiscent of the feet of the chimneys of the Casa Milà by Antoní
Gaudí. Indeed, its constructor, Antonio Bou Massana (1902-1983) worked with Gaudi on the
construction of a building in Mallorca Street, and on the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. The four initial
Helical industrial chimneys in Spain
58
Figure 8. Chimney Pelegrin Pipas, Mora (Toledo) Bodega
(Photo: author)
Figure 9. Detail of brickwork in Pelegrin
Pipas chimney, Mora (Toledo) (Photo: author)
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Gracia Lopez Patiño
Figure 10. View of the Colonia Sedo square section chimney, Esparreguera, 1881 (Barcelona) (Photo:
Ignasi Esquerra)
Figure 11. Distillery chimney by A. Bou Massana, Sant Quinti de Mediona, Barcelona, 1948 (Photo:
Bou family archive)
corners which twist are not the ones that form the shaft, as is the case in one more Gaudí example in the
columns of Santa Coloma de Cervello crypt.
Apostcard from the year 1930 confirms the earlier existence of another square helical chimney, now
demolished, with a twist of 540º around the axis, built for the textile firm of A. Bianchini & Co.,
Engineer, in the Poblenou of Barcelona. The dates of neither the construction nor the demolition are
known, although the factory was abandoned in 1971.
The twist of a chimney becomes singularly sculptural when the cross section is octagonal. A fine
example is to be found in the city of Valencia where the paper industrialist Luis Layana Alsina
(1859–1918) built the 180º twisted chimney for his paper factory (Fig. 12), basing his own design on the
columns of the unique, fifteenth-century silk trade centre, La Lonja de la Seda in Valencia, and the
octagonal, gothic bell tower of Miguelete also in Valencia. This chimney, close to the City of the
Sciences designed by the Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava (b.1951), served as an inspiration for
another of Calatrava’s creations – the Turning Torso Tower in Malmo (Sweden).
Helical industrial chimneys in Spain
60
Figure 12. Industrial chimney of paper factory Layana, Valencia, 1903 (Photo: author)
Although this chimney is dated as 1903, the date found in the first application for permission to build11
for the construction of a few shops in the Peñarrocha Street, adjacent to the Hermitage of Ave Maria in
Valencia, there is no mention of the chimney, in this or the subsequent documentas relating to the
enlargements of 1904 and 1914. It seems most likely that its builder was Manuel García Sierra and
Navarro, because the firm carried out all the construction works for this company.
The 25-metre high chimney consists of a powerful base of square cross section with a slight inclination,
and a podium which is currently hidden under a layer of plaster that hides its true character. Above the
cornice of the base, with stepped modillions (Fig. 13), the transition from the square base to the
octagonal shaft creates an elegant series of curved surfaces.12 The chimney, taller than a five-storey
building, is now located in a pedestrian street with little traffic. This allows the chimney to be seen from
the most important and visited places of the surrounding area. (Fig. 14)
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Gracia Lopez Patiño
Figure 13. Detail of the corner with modillions in Layana chimney, Valencia (Photo: author)
Figure 14. View Layana chimney and the City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia (Photo: author)
It seems clear that the
Layana chimney was
the inspiration for a
similar 180º twisted
chimney located in
Alzira, in the province
of Valencia. It dates
from 1913 and,
according to the metal
lettering on the shaft of
the chimney, was built
by La Constructora
company of masons.
(Fig. 15) As with
several other examples,
the kiln belonging to
this chimney has been
demolished, leaving the
chimney to form a
central feature, almost a
sculptural piece, in a
public square in front of
a residential area at the
entrance of the town of
Alzira. (Fig. 16)
The feature that unites
this chimney, and that at
Layana factory, is the
use of bull-nose header
bricks in the circular
portion of the corners
detail. At the paper
factory these bricks
have a number of
angled grooves which,
when viewed
continuously upwards,
give this corner the
appearance of a thick
rope (Fig. 17), and in
this case simplifies the
surface while keeping it completely smooth The base, which serves as a podium, is octagonal like the
shaft, so there is no need of a transition surface between the two. The dark colour of the mouldings in
the cornice of the base highlights the junction and contrasts with the alternating red and green in each of
the simulated cords that form the corner pieces . Its constructor, Agustín Goig Palomares (b.1878), was
the first of a generation of constructors – brother, sons and nephews – that created a legacy of octagonal
chimneys extending throughout Spain and its former colonies in North Africa.13 (Fig. 18)
Helical industrial chimneys in Spain
62
Figure 15. Detail of shaft and registration of chimney La Constructora
Society, Alzira, (Valencia), 1913 (Photo: author)
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Gracia Lopez Patiño
Figure 16. Chimney La Constructora by Agustin Goig, surrounded by residential buildings, Alzira
(Valencia) (Photo: author)
Helical industrial chimneys in Spain
64
Figure 17. Detail corner cord paper chimney Layana, Valencia (Photo: author)
One of the workers who participated in the construction of the earlier chimney in Alzira was Josep Pla
Damia, who devoted himself to the construction of chimneys in the Alicante area, and is probably the
author of another octagonal helical chimney, built in 1926, for a distillery, the Cooperativa vínico-
alcoholera Villenense, in Villena (Alicante).14 In this case the corner piece that describes the helical
motion is that of the octagonal chimneys, explained in previous section. (Fig. 19)
It is said by the population of Reus (in Tarragona) that the architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) was
inspired by the industrial chimney at Molí dels Santroma or Moli Baix de Monterol, in this Catalan town
(Fig. 20) whose shaft has a strong 270˚ twist, when he designed the famous chimneys at the Mila House
in Barcelona. Gaudí even claimed that the helix facilitated the upward movement of the smoke.15
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Gracia Lopez Patiño
Figure 18. Map showing the distribution of chimneys built by Goig family in Spain and North Africa
Perhaps the last chimney to mention with a helical form was that built for the Antonio Fábregas Mompeó
distillery in 1964 at Tomelloso (in Ciudad Real). (Fig. 21) Its author, Antonio Jareño Herreros (b.1932),
dared to exceed 40 metres in height using a combination of red and yellow bricks, following the
examples given in the nineteenth century manuals, forming a series of diamonds in the base, and using
red bricks to highlight the corners of the shaft and highlight the 315˚ rotation of the octagonal shaft. The
shape of the bulb crown was a characteristic of this builder. (Fig. 22)
Helical industrial chimneys in Spain
66
Figure 19. Cooperativa vínico- alcoholera Villenense chimney,
Villena (Alicante), 1926 (Photo: author)
Figure 20. Chimney at Sanroma
Mill (Baix de Monterol Mill),
Reus (Tarragona) (Photo: Luis
Rando & Lorena Escribano)
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Gracia Lopez Patiño
Figure 21. Chimney at the Bodega Antonio Fabregas Mompeo, built by A. Jareño, Tomelloso (Ciudad
Real), 1964 (Photo: author)
Helical industrial chimneys in Spain
68
Figure 22. Detail of the intersection of the shaft and crown of the chimney, Tomelloso (Ciudad Real)
(Photo: author)
Multidirectional helical twists
Achimney with a simpler geometry – straight-twist-straight – at the Martinet Mill at Paterna (in
Valencia) introduces us to bidirectional helical twist. (Fig. 23) Its cornice of stepped modillions is
reminiscent of the chimney at the Layana factory (Fig. 13) and was built at about the same time, in the
first decade of the twentieth century. It employs the same understated way of working the corner without
using a brick to highight it. (Fig. 24) Unlike the Layana chimney, the crown is decorated with small
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Gracia Lopez Patiño
Figure 23. Chimney Martinet Mill, Paterna (Valencia) (Photo: author)
crossed arches, all made with standard bricks. This chimney at the Martinet Mill achieves the reversal of
twist within a height of just 15 m and does so more smoothly and elegantly than the next example.
The remarkable chimney built for the ceramic brick kiln of Roc or José Maria Granell at Alfara del Patriarca
(in Valencia) at the very beginning of the 20th century16 has a unique helical octagonal shaft whose
direction of twist changes (Fig. 25); equally
unprecedented is the gradual transition of cross-section
at the junction between the base and the shaft. (Fig. 26)
Although it suffered a reduction in height in a recent
restoration in 1999, it does retain the beauty of its
Helical industrial chimneys in Spain
70
Figure 24. View of the cornice corner of the Martinet Mill chimney, Paterna (Valencia) (Photo: author)
Figure 25. Double-twist shaft of Jose M.
Granell ceramic kiln chimney, Alfara del
Patriarca (Valencia) c.1910 (Photo: author)
Figure 26. The base of Jose M. Granell
ceramic kiln, Alfara del Patriarca (Valencia)
(Photo: author)
multiple vertical rotation. Having lost its original function it has become a meeting point and an area of
public realm much used by students, staff and visitors of a private University, CEU San Pablo. (Fig. 27)
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Gracia Lopez Patiño
Figure 27. As a sculpture the helical chimney of Jose M. Granell ceramic kiln serves of meeting point for
the students of the private university of CEU San Pablo, Alfara del Patriarca (Valencia) (Photo: author)
Helical chimneys elsewhere
The industrial chimneys that were portrayed in the
first treatises dedicated to brick buildings in the 19th
century generally had circular and octagonal section
shafts. Their ornamentation was produced by a
change of colour of the brick, and occasionally by
highlighting it on the work of factory, especially in
the case of the crown. An illustration from “La
Brique Ordinaire”, published in 1878, shows how a
chimney appears with darker parallel diagonal bands
created using the colour of the bricks.17 (Fig. 28)
This was realised in a chimney constructed in the
Australian goldfields (Victoria) by Joseph Pickles
(1823-97).18 The helical pattern was created using
blue, red and white bricks.
Although helical brick chimneys do seem to be a
largely Spanish phenomenon, some examples are
found in other countries. One example is the fine
56-metre chimney at the Carlsberg Brewery in
Copenhagen, Denmark (1900), designed by
architect Vilhelm Dahlerup (1836–1907) and built
by P.S. Beckmann.19 (Fig. 29) Its decoration is
achieved partly in the use of two materials – red
Helical industrial chimneys in Spain
72
Figure 28.
Drawing of
chimney in the
book Construction
en briques: la
Brique ordinaire au
point de vue
décoratif (1878)
Figure 29. Chimney at Carlsberg Brewery,
Copenhagen, Denmark, 1900. (Photo: Diego Peris)
brick and granite - and also by the use of floral motifs and even gargoyles. The helical twist of only
about 90˚ in the main shaft of the chimney is achieved in relief using bricks that protrude about 50mm
from the surface of the shaft.
Away to construct helical chimneys
The builders of helical chimneys no doubt developed a variety of different ways to construct their
brickwork helices. The chimney builder Antonio Jareño, who was born in 1938, invented his own
instrument to build the octagonal helical chimney for the distillery in Tomelloso.20 (Fig.20) The
instrument consists of two metal tubes each about 25mm in diameter, a vertical guide and a radial arm,
joined at right angles. On the radial arm there is a moveable angle piece (the “corner locator”) that could
be clamped in different positions, according to the changing radius of the chimney at different heights.
(Figs 30-31). The inventor of this tool explained its method of use as follows:
“Two wooden planks, each with a circular hole of the same diameter as the tube, are supported by a
scaffolding structure, one about 50 cm above the other, so that the two holes align with the central axis of
the chimney, and verified with a plumb line. These planks located the setting-out tool vertically and
allowed it to be raised incrementally after every 6 or 7 courses of brickwork had been laid.
To begin, the moulded corner pieces were laid in position at the corners of the octagon, and then the
intermediate bricks were placed to complete the first course of bricks. The radial arm was rotated to set
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Gracia Lopez Patiño
Figure 30. Antonio Jareño showing his invention for setting
out helical octagonal chimneys (Photo: author)
Figure 31. Detail of the sliding
part of the instrument to build
helical chimneys (Photo: author)
the position of the corner locator at the correct radius, and the position of the offset pin was clamped using
the clamping screw which would define the rotational offset from one brick course to the next, and hence
define the angle of the helix. First the offset was calculated at the mid height of the chimney, say 2cm, to
give the right angle of twist for the helix. To take account of the larger diameter of the chimney at the base,
the amount of offset had to be increased by a few millimetres, and this was progressively reduced to 2cm
at mid height, and correspondingly towards at the top.
The second course was then begun by placing the corner bricks from the outside of the chimney against
the angle piece of the tool to form the 135º corner of the octagon, with the necessary rotational offset from
the corner of the course below. The remaining seven corners were laid, and the bricks between them were
than laid to complete the course.
After seven or eight courses of brickwork, the setting out tool had to be removed and the scaffolding and
timber planks re-erected approximately 50 cm higher, and the axial alignment checked again with the
plumb line. Then the tool was refitted and the next few courses were laid.
All this while, the radius at which the corner locator was fixed on the radial arm was reduced by about 1
cm every 6 or 7 courses to create the 2% inclination of the chimney wall. And, as the radius was gradually
reduced, so the rotational offset between one course and the next had to be reduced to maintain the same
angle of the helix. These settings let you control the angle of the helix, and the same system could be used
for helices made with other polygons, such as a hexagon.”
Reasons for a helical Chimney
Several different reasons have been suggested for making chimneys with a helical form to the shaft.
However, only one has suggested there was a functional purpose to the helix. As mentioned above (see
endnote 15) Gaudí had noted that, when it rises from a fire, smoke naturally follows a helical path and
he argued that making the shaft helical would improve their effectiveness. He gave this as the reason for
the form of his chimneys at Casa Milà in Barcelona. Antonio Bou, who built the chimney for the
distillery at Sant Quintí de Mediona in the late 1940s (Fig. 11) was one of several Catalan chimney
builders who worked with Gaudí and were no doubt influenced by his idea.
Generally, however, the helical form seems to have been used for aesthetic expression, as well as showing
off the builder’s construction skills. Those chimneys constructed around the turn of the 20th century were
influenced by the organic movement of Modernism. The Valentian industrialist Layana was influenced not
only by the new style but also by two monumental buildings in Valencia, as already explained. It was
probably the builders of the chimneys themselves who brought the stylistic ideas from one project to the
next, rather than a conscious decision by the owner of a factory to build in a certain style.
Finally, Antonio Jareño, builder of the helical chimney in Tomelloso and inventor of the tool to help
construct it, said that he had been inspired by the chimney constructed in 1942 by Pedro Alcañiz for
Aníbal Arenas in Socuéllamos (see section The Helical Appearance, above) and by the description of the
chimneys in Alzira (Fig. 16) and Villena (Fig.19), built by Jose Goig (nephew of Agustin Goig
mentioned earlier) who worked for many years in Tomelloso where spectacular chimneys were built for
the most famous wineries.
It would seem that it is nothing more than a curious coincidence that many small steel industrial
chimneys built in modern times have helical fins fitted to the shaft in order to disturb the airflow and
prevent the chimneys being caused to vibrate.
Helical industrial chimneys in Spain
74
The protection of industrial chimneys in Spain
There are now two laws protecting the Industrial Heritage in Spain, the Spanish Historical Heritage Act,
198521 and the National Industrial Heritage Act, 2001.
Thirteen of Spain’s autonomous regions, Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Canary Islands, Castilla La Mancha,
Castilla Leon, Catalonia, Extremadura, Balearic Islands, La Rioja, Murcia, Navarra and Valencia, have
heritage legislation that makes specific reference to industrial archaeology or architecture. To date, however,
only in the Valencian act22 is there a explicit reference to the brick smokestacks. The Fifth Additional
Provision of the Act: Legal Recognition of Locally Relevant Works23, makes specific reference to:
“the following categories of architectural elements: Traditional historic centres, well known under the
planning legislation, water wells, ice houses, industrial chimneys of brick built before 1940, old windmills,
workers accommodation in the orchards of Valencia, and auction and community halls before the
nineteenth century.”
Achimney with no known date of construction can only be protected under the category of “local
relevance”. In 1999, within the campaign “Europe, a common heritage”, the Council of Europe launched
a project to raise awareness of industrial heritage not only with regard to the physical remains, but also
as a way of life. The Spanish Ministry of Culture participated actively in this project, and the Spanish
Historical Heritage Institute is actively drafting a National Industrial Heritage Plan.
In the latest revision of the Plan, March 2011, in addition to defining what is meant by Industrial
Heritage, the National Industrial Heritage Plan proposes a comprehensive approach considering
industrial manufacturing centres, adding isolated elements, outside the context of industrial installations,
as is the case for chimneys, and includes the wider industrial landscape and networks for water transport,
energy, goods, and communications.
Taken together, these measures will surely improve the likelihood that chimneys of recognised merit and
significance will be preserved for future generations.
Conclusion
The places where the first helical industrial chimneys were built are strongly related to the birth and
establishment of the European New Style, Modernism, in Spain. This is also why the chimneys were first
built around the beginning of the 20th century. Nevertheless, the design of these chimneys seems largely
to have originated with the firms who built them, with little formal influence from professional
architects. The helical rotation of the shaft can be real or imitation, achieved through the use of ceramic
pieces or painting. The angles of the twist may be uniform or change along the height of the shaft. Most
of all, they are an expression of the craft skills of the builders and the materials they worked with.
While many chimneys from this period have been lost, many still survive. From a practical point of view,
they have the benefit over other old industrial buildings that they occupy relatively little land and are less
vulnerable to destruction at a time when former industrial land has been the victim of much opportunistic
speculation.
In a growing number of cases, the role of a prominent chimney in the urban landscape is being
recognised. Chimneys have found a new role, similar to obelisks, as giving character to public spaces
while also maintaining a permanent memory of an industrial age, now largely lost.
75
Gracia Lopez Patiño
Author
The author lectures in construction materials and building construction at the Polytechnic University of
Valencia. She has recently completed her doctoral thesis on industrial brick chimneys, and has published
several papers on the subject. The author would appreciate any information about the construction of
industrial chimneys, both helical and others.
Contact details:
Dr Gracia Lopez-Patiño, Assistant Professor of Construction Materials
Department of Architectural Construction
Universidad Politécnica Valencia
Camino de Vera, s/n
46022 Valencia, Spain
E mail: glopez@csa.upv.es ; chimeneas.industriales.ladrillo@gmail.com
References
1. James Douet, Going up in Smoke: The History of the Industrial Chimney. London: Victorian
Society, 1988.
2. W. Pickles, Our Grimy Heritage: a fully illustrated study of the factory chimney in Britain. Open
Gate Press, 1971.
3. Louis Degen, Les constructions en briques. Barcelona: J.M. Fabre, 1880. First published in 1860.
4. Robert Rawlinson, Designs for Factory, Furnace and other Tall Chimney Shafts. Kell, 1859.
5. G, Braet, Note sur la construction et la stabilitée des cheminées en maçonnerie. Brussels, 1883.
6. Robert M. Bancroft and Francis J. Bancroft, Tall chimney construction: a practical treatise on the
construction of tall chimney shafts . Manchester: Calvertin, 1885.
7. W. Armstrong, Chimneys, Furnaces and Fireplaces. London, 1885.
8. A picture, dated in 1935, in a daily magazine shows the factory with the chimney.
9. a place where the rice was separated from husk.
10. The colony Sedó in Esparreguera. Revista cultural property no. 7. 2007 The Director Plan of the
colony Can Sedo can be followed in the following link, as well as photographs of the chimney
http://www.Vilanova-Moya.com/PDF/ut8.pdf (accessed August 20th, 2012)
11. Municipal Archives of Valencia PU year 1903 box 10 exp 318.
12. Gracia Lopez Patiño, Proceedings of the VII National Congress of History of Construction.
Madrid: Instituto Juan de Herrera, 2011.
13. Gracia Lopez Patiño, Proceedings of the V National Congress of History of Construction. Madrid:
Instituto Juan de Herrera, 2007.
14. http://www.alicantevivo.org/2007/11/Las-chimeneas-de-ladrillo-de-la.html (accessed August 20th,
2012)
15. http://www.ctv.es/USERS/ags/GAUDI-pedrera.htm (accessed 20 August 2012)
16. An archeological study of the materials of construction reveals the brick dimensions and mortar
used for its construction dated after 1900 and before 1920. V. Algarra, P. Berrocal, Analisi
arqueologicoindustrial del Rajolar de Josep Maria Granell d´Alfara del Patriarca Proceedings of
the I Congress of Horta Nord studies, 1997
17. J. Lacroux, C. Détain & J.-A. Léveil, Construction en briques : la Brique ordinaire au point de
vue décoratif ... 2 vols, Paris: Ducher, 1878. Reprinted as Architectural Brickwork, with an
introduction by David Jenkins, London: Studio Editions, 1992.
Helical industrial chimneys in Spain
76
18. See picture in http://adambalic.typepad.com/the_art_and_mystery_of_fo/2008/01/oatcakes.html
(accessed February 22nd, 2013)
19. As a brief inscription shows on the stone of the chimney according to Dorothee Zanker von Meyer,
Die bauten von JC. Und Carl Jacobsen: zur Bautägtigkeit einer Industriellen familie in Dänemark.
DL. Kunstverlag, 1982
20. Interview by the author with Antonio Jareño.
21. Ley 16/1985, de 25 de junio, de Patrimonio Histórico Español.
22. Ley 4/ 1998, de 11 de junio, del Patrimonio Cultural Valenciano y Ley 5/ 2007, de 9 de febrero,
modificación ley 4/1998.
23. Bien de Relevancia Local, BRL.
77
Gracia Lopez Patiño
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Book
Full-text available
The development of tall chimneys went in parallel with industrialization of Great Britain, as manufacturing adopt ed coal and steam engines. This is the only academic account of this highly symbolic structure, including technical and social aspects of its rise and fall in the landscape.
Les constructions en briques
  • Louis Degen
Louis Degen, Les constructions en briques. Barcelona: J.M. Fabre, 1880. First published in 1860.
Designs for Factory, Furnace and other Tall Chimney Shafts
  • Robert Rawlinson
Robert Rawlinson, Designs for Factory, Furnace and other Tall Chimney Shafts. Kell, 1859.
Our Grimy Heritage: a fully illustrated study of the factory chimney in Britain
  • W Pickles
W. Pickles, Our Grimy Heritage: a fully illustrated study of the factory chimney in Britain. Open Gate Press, 1971.
Tall chimney construction: a practical treatise on the construction of tall chimney shafts
  • M Robert
  • Francis J Bancroft
  • Bancroft
Robert M. Bancroft and Francis J. Bancroft, Tall chimney construction: a practical treatise on the construction of tall chimney shafts. Manchester: Calvertin, 1885.
Revista cultural property no. 7. 2007 The Director Plan of the colony Can Sedo can be followed in the following link, as well as photographs of the chimney http
  • The
  • Sedó In Esparreguera
The colony Sedó in Esparreguera. Revista cultural property no. 7. 2007 The Director Plan of the colony Can Sedo can be followed in the following link, as well as photographs of the chimney http://www.Vilanova-Moya.com/PDF/ut8.pdf (accessed August 20th, 2012)
Proceedings of the VII National Congress of History of Construction
  • Gracia Lopez
Gracia Lopez Patiño, Proceedings of the VII National Congress of History of Construction. Madrid: Instituto Juan de Herrera, 2011.
Chimneys, Furnaces and Fireplaces
  • W Armstrong
W. Armstrong, Chimneys, Furnaces and Fireplaces. London, 1885.
de 11 de junio, del Patrimonio Cultural Valenciano y Ley 5
  • Ley
Ley 4/ 1998, de 11 de junio, del Patrimonio Cultural Valenciano y Ley 5/ 2007, de 9 de febrero, modificación ley 4/1998.